When Pat Robertson's Christian Coalition holds its September convention in Washington, Republican Party luminaries from Bob Dole to Newt Gingrich to Phil Gramm will be on hand to pledge their devotion to Mr. Robertson's famous cracked causes — stamping out family planning, gay-bashing, preventing the military takeover of southern Virginia by the United Nations, and so on. The Republicans will hope to get a little in return, electorally and otherwise.
One of them should, but probably won't, ask Mr. Robertson about what may be his wackiest hobby horse of all, his lobbying activities on behalf of the president of Zaire, Mobutu Sese Seko, one of the worst human beings ever to walk the planet. In his 30 years of plunder and savagery, Mr. Mobutu has killed tens, maybe hundreds, of thousands of Zairians who opposed his monumentally corrupt rule. His huge Central African nation was rich in mineral wealth when the Belgians pulled out at the end of the colonial era, but now the infrastructure is in ruins, most of the mines are shut down, and the tens of billions of dollars in aid the West poured into Zaire during the Cold War lie, according to intelligence agencies, in Mr. Mobutu's personal European accounts.
Wracked by poverty and disease, Zaire has not functioned as a nation since anti-government riots in 1991, yet Mr. Mobutu clings to power. His most recent abomination is his collusion with the genocidal Rwandan government-in-exile, now rearming in Zaire for a resumption of tribal war.
When Pat Robertson visited Kinshasa in May to deliver medical supplies, Mr. Mobutu — who skulks about his own nation under cover of darkness — made a rare visit to the capital to greet his old pal. Mr. Robertson has timber and mining investments in Zaire. He has long supported Mr. Mobutu and is lobbying to get him a visa to visit the United States, where Mr. Mobutu is persona non grata. Mr. Mobutu has an ego the size of his bank account and badly wants to be accepted in polite society, so he's miffed. Mr. Robertson admits that Mr. Mobutu may have erred in the past, but now he's supposedly anti-corruption and pro-democracy, and the State Department's ban on Mr. Mobutu is, Mr. Robertson told reporters, "outrageous."
The State Department says it has detected no evidence in Zaire that Mr. Mobutu is anything but the brutal thug he was ten years ago. If Bob Dole et al. can't bring themselves to question Mr. Robertson's loonier ideas, they ought at least to ask him about the criminal company he keeps.
Editorial reprinted from The Berkshire Eagle.