Norquist and CBN Official: Far Right Plans to Radically Reshape Medicare and Social Security Now Viewed as Mainstream
WASHINGTON – Televangelist and former presidential candidate Pat Robertson joined with guests on his 700 Club TV show today in boasting that right wing groups now hold significant leverage over White House policies, demonizing their opponents as "evil," dismissing the need for any federal rules to control arsenic levels in drinking water, and bragging that once "radical" far right plans to significantly reshape key federal programs, such as Social Security, are now viewed as "the norm." [A transcript of the comments is attached, and a taped copy of today’s show can be obtained by contacting People For the American Way Foundation.]
"It’s been nearly a decade since conservatives had control of the White House, and now that they have it back, the conservative operatives who have been hanging around Washington for a long time are making the most of their opportunity," said Robertson, who hosts the 700 Club, which airs on the Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN). But Robertson urged President Bush not to give into "the five or six squishy Republicans."
CBN news commentator Lee Webb agreed with Robertson’s assessment, adding that right-wing efforts to pass "reforms of Medicare, education, Social Security—policies considered radical 10 years ago—are now the norm."
Grover Norquist, a right-wing activist who is president of Americans for Tax Reform, noted that his close allies are holding key positions of power in the Bush administration. "When I walk through the White House, I recognize as many people as when I would walk through the Heritage Foundation." And Norquist sized up the opposition that has formed against right-wing proposals in Congress, saying that the opposition "isn’t stupid, they’re evil."
In addition to touting the far right’s position at the nerve center of the Bush White House, Robertson dismissed the need for federal rules to regulate arsenic levels in drinking water. And Robertson and his son and co-host, Gordon, discussed the possibility of international—even intergalactic—menace due to rogue nations firing nuclear warheads at asteroids in an effort to deflect and "aim" these asteroids towards U.S. cities.
Comments from the 700 Club TV show (May 2, 2001 program)
This discussion followed a brief report on "conservatives in the Bush administration":
PAT ROBERTSON: "It’s been nearly a decade since conservatives had control of the White House, and now that they have it back, the conservative operatives who have been hanging around Washington for a long time are making the most of their opportunity."
LEE WEBB (CBN News Commentator): "Pat, as you well know, reforms of Medicare, education, and Social Security—policies considered radical 10 years ago—are now the social norm."
Additional comments on the preeminent position that the far right holds in the Bush administration:
TIM GOEGLEIN (White House Office of Public Liaison): "I know that when I go to Grover’s breakfast and I go to Paul’s [right-wing activist Paul Weyrich] lunch that I’m going to be in touch with representatives of literally millions of Americans."
PAT ROBERTSON: "They’ve [the left] been organized, but I think they’re frankly in disarray right now …. Bush has taken the wind out of their sales, and they’re not sure quite how to handle it …. If Bush can hold steady, he can get a lot done. But, if he gives in to the five or six squishy Republicans, he may be in trouble …. This tax-cut compromise I think is a great victory for the president."
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Commenting on those who oppose the right-wing "reforms" that have been proposed:
GROVER NORQUIST (President of Americans for Tax Reform): "The other team isn’t stupid, they’re evil. And, what I mean by that is they’re not incompetent. They’re just the other team."
TOM SCHATZ (Spokesman for Citizens Against Government Waste): "The left is very well organized. They’re on television. They have a lot of resources. They have a lot more money. What we have is the faith and support of our members behind all of the groups that are involved in this effort."
GROVER NORQUIST: "We is them, and they is us. When I walk through the White House,I recognize as many people as when I would walk through the Heritage Foundation."
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Robertson commented on criticism leveled at the Bush administration for backing away from proposed federal standards on arsenic levels in drinking water:
PAT ROBERTSON: "We’ve gone on for hundreds of years with the levels of water that we’re drinking, and there’s no solid scientific proof that there’s any arsenic of a dangerous level in there."
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Robertson said that some "leading scientists" believe that asteroids could harm the earth through their impact with nuclear warheads launched from earth. The hypothesis that Robertson and his son, Gordon, discussed was that a rogue nation might launch a nuclear warhead into space, hit an asteroid, knocking it off its original path and sending it toward specific cities on the globe. This discussion may have intended to bolster support for President Bush’s so-called "Star Wars" missile defense system:
PAT ROBERTSON: "I hope they’re wrong, but that’s one of the most horrible scenarios I’ve ever heard because an asteroid hurling toward earth is one of the things that seems to show up in the Bible when you read in Revelations about a mountain that an Angel throws, a flaming mountain that throws to earth and into the sea, and a third of the ships are destroyed. There is no way in the world anybody’s going to control the flying bits of an asteroid, and if somebody tries to blow one up and then aim it toward earth, it would be the most awful, hideous devastation that you can conceive of. And, there’s no weapon so far that’s ever been devised by man that could bring about such devastation. So, it’s a horrible concept and let us earnestly pray that this doesn’t happen. But, there are literally millions of pieces of debris floating around in our atmosphere,I mean out in outer space and they come into orbit not too far from earth from time to time, and it doesn’t take a very big one to wreck havoc, to actually, well, devastate the earth for years to come. Gordon?"
GORDON ROBERTSON: "I think that story is just absolutely ridiculous, that you could have a series of controlled nuclear explosions, no it just doesn’t make any sense to me."
PAT ROBERTSON: "It doesn’t make any sense to do it, but crazy people do crazy things. And, if somebody thought they could try, and it’s a rogue state with a missile, it could happen."