Even though the claim is wildly inaccurate, President Barack Obama’s critics have for years been calling him a “dictator,” and on Wednesday morning televangelist Pat Robertson joined the conspiracy parade by insisting that Obama secretly “wants to take control of every aspect of this nation by the federal government.”
“If you want a dictatorship, then that’s the way to get it because he’s giving it to you,” the 81-year-old said.
It wasn’t clear what exactly Robertson was talking about, other than making rambling allegations, but the claim that Obama wants to become a “dictator” springs from conservative backlash against President George W. Bush’s bailout of Chrysler and General Motors — a policy the Obama administration adopted and furthered to a considerable extent.
Conservatives began hurling allegations of a creeping dictatorship when the government effectively fired GM CEO Rick Wagoner after it had taken a large equity stake in the company to help them avoid complete collapse. In reality, the administration’s move saved tens of thousands of jobs — some say more — and GM has since returned to profit-making, allowing them to begin repaying the massive $49.9 billion given by taxpayers.
But most disappointing to many Republicans: While President Obama definitely owns the auto bailouts, Bush won’t stop taking credit for them.
“I didn’t want there to be 21 percent unemployment,” the former president told an audience in Las Vegas on Monday. “Sometimes circumstances get in the way of philosophy. I said, ‘No depression.’”
By triggering the bailout, Bush stemmed the tide of job losses in the auto industry, but only after over 400,000 people had been put out in the year leading up to that decision. Economists warned that if GM and Chrysler were to fail, the economic ripple effect would have thrown the entire nation’s supply base into a deep depression, with tens of thousands more jobs lost as a result.
These facts might surprise Robertson, who said in 2004 that because Bush had been personally selected by the Christian deity figure to become president, he could literally do no wrong.
“I mean, he could make terrible mistakes and come out of it,” the television host said of the former president. “It doesn’t make any difference what he does, good or bad, God picks him up because he’s a man of prayer and God’s blessing him.”
It’s not clear if that also means Robertson would think poorly of leading Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, who’s said repeatedly that unlike Bush and Obama, he would have let the American automobile industry go bankrupt.
In spite of the seeming conflict, Robertson has appeared with the former Massachusetts governor at fundraisers and called him an “outstanding Christian,” stopping short of making an endorsement. Many Christians do not consider Romney to be one of their own, however, due to his Mormon faith. And of course, as with prior elections, Robertson claimed recently that the Christian deity has once again notified him of who will win — but he’s not saying just yet.
The administration has not taken an equity stake in any other companies since the auto bailouts, and U.S. corporate profits are up tremendously since Obama took office, even as corporate tax rates remain at a 40-year low.
This video is from “The 700 Club,” broadcast Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2012.
(H/T: Right Wing Watch)