The Rev. Pat Robertson will most likely not be giving the invocation for Hugo Chavez when the Venezuelan dictator, as he will inevitably do in some form or other, swears himself in as president-for-life.

On his Christian Broadcast Network show, “The 700 Club,” Robertson calmly called for the United States to kill Chavez. “We have the ability to take him out, and I think the time has come that we exercise that ability,” he said of Chavez, who even as his view of his own importance has become more grandiose has become more and more stridently anti-U.S.

President Bush thinks about Chavez rarely _ a possible defect in our Latin American policy _ but Chavez thinks about Bush constantly, taunting and deriding the U.S. president while accusing Bush of plotting to assassinate. Said Robertson, “… if he thinks we’re trying to assassinate him, I think that we really ought to go ahead and do it.”

Chavez was elected president in 1998, in Venezuela’s last honest election. Since then, he has been tightening his hold on the courts, police, military and media _ all the usual dictator stuff _ at home, while abroad he has been sucking up to Cuba’s Fidel Castro, spouting Marxist bilge, funding leftist groups in neighboring countries, playing footsie with Islamic radicals and generally trying to frustrate U.S. foreign policy in the region. All of this is financed by Venezuela’s vast oil revenues.

Privately, most people might admit, Robertson’s plan to cap Chavez has a certain forbidden appeal, but the United States rightly holds itself to higher standards and has long since forsworn assassination. And since the United States accounts for about 60 percent of Venezuela’s exports, if we wanted to get ugly with him there are other ways to do it.

Robertson, a former presidential candidate, is famous for his outrageous statements. But he is a man of the cloth, and endorsing assassination suggests there may be some places more in need of the Ten Commandments than a courthouse wall.

(Contact Dale McFeatters at McFeattersD(at)