Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

The Civil War & Lincoln

Attn: California Readers

You may be interested in attending this event at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion on Sunday beginning at 2:00 p.m. and featuring a host of interesting and compelling speakers ranging from Jesse Jackson, Jr. to the distinguished Harry V. Jaffa.  Sponsored by the Lincoln Bicentennial Commission, the theme will be "Lincoln and King's Unfinished Work." 

Discussions - 11 Comments

Those poor people on the panel with Jaffa. They have no idea what they're in for. Wish I could turn up. I hope someone will tape it.

Julie, were you aware that Jaffa was a guest on Pat Robertson's 700 Club for 4 consecutive days in 1986?


Are you sure about this? I was around Claremont in 1986, and have no recollection of this at all. Is it archived anywhere? I'd love to see it.

Pretty sure, Steve. A woman wrote transcripts of every show for several years, and those were utilized for a congressional report when Robertson (and others) got in hot water for the tax-exemption issues.

I would love to see it, too, but I don't have the patience for the 700 Club's utterly ridiculous show archives. If you're willing to push the "previous week" button a zillion times to get back to 1986 (and I'm doubting they even go back that far), maybe you'll find it here. As you can see, I stopped at late November last year.

While searching around YouTube for it (no luck), I did find this fun 1986 interview with Christian hair metal band Stryper, on "the Club":

Thanks for looking. It was worth it to see that Stryper clip, which is hilarious. Maybe I'l troll through and see if I can find the Jaffa show and post link.

Google "Harry Jaffa" and "700 Club." You'll find a whole host of dodgy-looking sites that make reference to this. Their original source would appear to be Shadia Drury. For the most part those who mention it seem to be conspiracy theorists of the left or right, using the alleged appearance as evidence of the connection between "neocons" and "Dominionists."

None of which means that he didn't actually appear on the show (or that there hasn't been more than a little overlap between neoconservatives and Dominionists - real groups of people, no sardonic quotation marks or conspiracy theories necessary). Honestly, before I read of this - and it wasn't from Drury, but in a documentary I saw a few years back, I'd never given a moment's thought to looking at any old episodes of Robertson's freak show ("put your hands on your TV set and feel the healing"). All part of my liberal elitism, surely.

Similarly, there have certainly been myriad academic lectures over the years (esp. those of the pre-internet era) of which no tape or transcript exists today - doesn't mean they didn't happen.

In any case, it would seem to be a rather bizarre thing to just fabricate.

I think the appearance probably did happen. I'm only suggesting that it's a mistake to read too much into it. Robertson in the 1980s was very much a mainstream figure in the conservative movement, and the 700 Club had a much larger viewing audience than it has today. This was a time when there were very few broadcasting outlets for conservatives (even, believe it or not, on talk radio), so there's nothing terribly surprising that a lot of conservatives appeared on this show.

It's hard to know what to make of his appearance (other than the questionable judgment of going on the show of a televangelist who had claimed healing powers via the TV screen and had already made numerous wacky claims, including predicting the end of the world by 1982 - judgment shared by too many mainstream figures, including Obama) without seeing the shows. Not many guests have had a 4-day run on the show, however - not even Kirk Cameron! Somebody needs to raid the CBN archives.

Has the 700 Club's viewership really declined that much? I think it's still pretty significant, and they do maintain a presence in multiple countries, but I'd like to see the numbers laid out.

Here's a great little article written by one of his former co-hosts:

I recall the Jaffa appearance on 700 Club or at least hearing about it. Its significance can be seen by noting his influence on William Buckley, detailed in Brookhiser's Right Time, Right Place. Jaffa got Buckley to rethink his views on secession, civil rights, and likely on Jews. His concern was always to protect the legacy of the American Founding and Abraham Lincoln. He doubtless had the same strategy in mind with Robertson.

This is the only (original) thing that I've found online about it thus far (many other sites seemed to have copy-and-pasted parts of the text), and it appears to be from the woman who wrote the transcripts of the show (what a grueling task that must have been!):

For four days in 1986, from July first through the fourth of July, Pat Robertson interviewed neo-conservative Dr. Harry Jaffa, a former student of Leo Strauss, on the 700 Club show. The topic was the importance of the Declaration of Independence. Joining with Jaffa was Robertson’s own man, Herb Titus, the Dean of CBN’s School of Public Policy. This series of interviews was one of the most important philosophical moments in the development of the political agenda and political philosophy of the Dominionists.

Robertson found in Harry Jaffa, the champion he needed, whose reasoning would influence how the Constitution should be interpreted by conservatives and would provide a “Christian” view of the establishment of the United States that excluded the secular social contract view. Harry Jaffa would influence both Clarence Thomas (who would be appointed to the Supreme Court by President George Bush senior in 1991) and Antonin Scalia (who would be appointed to the Supreme Court by President Ronald Reagan on September 26, 1986).

During the four days of interviews Jaffa and Titus agreed that the Declaration of Independence was the premier document and it superceded the Constitution. Titus said, “The Declaration…is the charter of the nation. It is what you might call the articles of incorporation, whereas the Constitution is the bylaws. The Constitution is the means by which to carry out the great purposes that are articulated in the Declaration.”

Robertson asked: “Let’s assume that eighty percent of the people are just totally immoral, they want to live lives of gross licentiousness and they want to prey on one another, that’s what they want and they want a government to let them do it. How does that square with the Declaration of Independence and its consent of the governed?”

Titus said, “Even the people can’t consent to give away that which God says is unalienable.”

Robertson then asked, “The principles enunciated in the Declaration of Independence, how far have we gone from it and what can we do to redress some of these problems?”

Jaffa responded cryptically:

“I’d say that today, for example in the Attorney General’s [Edwin Meese’s] warfare with the liberals on the Supreme Court, in his appeal to original intent, he appeals to the text of the Constitution. Jefferson and Madison said together in 1825, ‘If you want to find the principles of the Constitution of the United States, you go first to the Declaration of Independence.’”


Her mini-bio at the bottom of the page has this:
"Katherine Yurica recorded and transcribed 1,300 pages of Pat Robertson’s television show, The 700 Club covering several years in the mid 1980’s. In 1987 she conducted a study in response to informal inquiries from the staff of the Subcommittee on Oversight of the House Ways and Means Committee of the U.S. House of Representives, which was investigating whether television and radio ministries were violating their tax-exempt status by conducting grass roots political appeals, endorsing candidates, and making political expenditures as defined under Section 527 of the IRS code. The Subcommittee on Oversight published Katherine's study in Federal Tax Rules Applicable to Tax-Exempt Organizations Involving Television Ministries on October 6, 1987, Serial 100-43. (Published in 1988.)"


This is obviously the woman I was talking about before; I had heard about her in a documentary about groups promoting various forms of theocracy in the US, the title of which I can't recall, unfortunately...


[It's worth remembering that during Robertson's presidential campaign, he said he "would only bring Christians and Jews into the government," and he later wrote, "There will never be world peace until God's house and God's people are given their rightful place of leadership at the top of the world."]

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