Be careful what you wish for

Americans are not a patient people. They just want to get on with it _ whatever it is. For that reason, it is my hope that impatient readers will not immediately go and peek at the end of this column, which is essentially about the virtues of patience.

Let us begin with a reading from TV evangelist Pat Robertson, whose ministry appears to be dedicated to making Christianity look ridiculous, not that he knows this himself.

When Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon suffered a stroke, Robertson infamously suggested that it was an act of divine punishment. Sharon, he said, “was dividing God’s land, and I would say woe unto any prime minister of Israel who takes a similar course …” He has since apologized.

But, of course, this was par for his course. He says one stupid thing after another _ for example, his call to assassinate Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez gave new meaning to the commandment “Thou Shalt Not Kill.” If this clown were in vaudeville, they would have used the hook on him long ago. Baptists, who are not much for vaudeville and don’t have those hooks on hand, surely would like to borrow a crosier from an obliging Episcopal bishop and save everybody further embarrassment. But that would be impatient.

To my mind, it is a good thing that Robertson says what he says. Those of us who go to churches where thinking is not considered a sin have nothing to fear from him.

He merely provides a cheerful reminder of what happens when religion is promoted as a business dedicated to preaching a simple-minded message hostile to science and reason. If we are patient, there’s a chance people will wake up to themselves and remember what a certain wise rabbi said long ago about false prophets: “By their fruits ye shall know them.” Another public figure who says one stupid thing after another and preaches a thumb-sucking message with divine certainty is President Bush. Since the revelation that he has blown off the law on domestic surveillance, the call has gone up for his impeachment.

This is madness _ and impatient madness at that. Of course, I write as one who is not a great fan of the president; OK, OK, I think he will go down in history as the worst president ever. But it’s still madness to try to impeach him, at least absent evidence that he spied on ordinary Americans who have nothing to do with terrorism.

I support giving him a good sulking or else heaping scorn and ridicule upon his uncomprehending and unconcerned head. In other words, patiently continue business as usual until the next elections.

Those who call for his impeachment are mostly in the class of Bush-haters, and I am not one of their company, despite my frequent criticisms. Frankly, having a sunny disposition with occasional clouds, I find it hard to hate anyone. Instead, I save my hatred for the really offensive things in life _ shopping with spouse, the widespread incidence of Humor Deprivation Syndrome, etc.

And how can I hate a guy whose family background has rendered him generally clueless? How uncomprehending would I be if I had been brought up in privileged circumstances? No, I would have to walk a mile in his fancy cowboy boots before I could feel justified in hating Mr. Bush.

Besides, I remember the Clinton impeachment as a huge engine of bitterness and time-wasting. Can we afford as a nation to get back on that cycle? Patience, my friends, patience. Surely liberals do not have to sink down into the same swamp that conservatives so gleefully inhabited.

Think about this call for impeachment: It would be like impeaching the dummy so that the ventriloquist could take center stage. What? You thought that Dick Cheney could be included and that the group rate for impeachment would be available? What I support for Bush is what I subscribe for Robertson. Let him go on with his folly because eventually even the most comatose of his supporters should wake up and shout: “What have we done?” Be patient. The Lord moves in a mysterious way His wonders to perform.

Some of you went and peeked, didn’t you?

(Reg Henry is a columnist for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. E-mail rhenry(at)