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I think Pat Robertson is losing a screw.

No disrespect intended, but the founder of Christian Coalition, a long-time outspoken abortion opponent, seems to be playing guitar with no strings. At least that’s how I read the song and dance he performed Monday on CNN’s “Wolf Blitzer Reports,” when the Christian broadcaster played patty cake with Peking’s policy of forced abortion to control its swelling population.

China’s “one-child policy,” as it’s known, aims at keeping families to a maximum of one nose-runner per fam. Any kids above the threshold get threshed — in utero — by dictate of the Dung Dynasty.

“I don’t agree with it,” bumbled Robertson, “but at the same time they’ve got 1.2 billion people, and they don’t know what to do.” Pointing toes to gums he added, “If every family over there was allowed to have three or four children, the population would be completely unsustainable.”

Citing social and economic catastrophes of near-Apocalyptic proportions should Chinese children be allowed to escape the womb alive, Robertson said, “I think that right now, they’re doing what they have to do. I don’t agree with forced abortion, but I don’t think the United States needs to interfere with what they’re doing internally in this regard.”

Earth to Pat. Anybody home?

First thing here is that Robertson was less high-minded and understanding than he might have tried to appear. His argument hinged on the same thing that most abortions in this country do: Vacuuming children out of the womb is easier than vacuuming up after them till they’re 18.

Pat’s case was just a glorified abortion-for-convenience argument — taking it national. If too many kids are too much trouble, just pop ‘em. Never mind that the children have nothing to do with conception. They weren’t busy teasing their parents on, playing Cupid to their moms ‘n’ pops.

If you remember any of that high-school sex-ed, you know that they come after all of that. So, if causality makes any difference, offing the parents makes more sense than killing the kids. But that would be murder — wouldn’t it, Pat?

Next thing, pro-life Pat, who’s supposed to be pretty conservative, opposed to government coercion and such, seemed to be saying that abortion is cool just so long as it’s forced.

Yeah, that computes.

That said, Pat’s point about how America shouldn’t interfere with China’s policies makes some sense.

I’m not an interventionist by any stretch of the imagination. I’ve opposed every recent military action by the U.S. government, including the Gulf War, and think that monkeying around in the affairs of other nations is beyond the scope of our government. (Think of it this way: Would you want China coming over here and telling us we had to start doing the kiddy kibosh, because that’s how they do it back in Shanghai?)

Still, while we shouldn’t be barking at Beijing about how to pet their pandas, we shouldn’t go on national TV and say that it’s understandable when they start killing them.

This apparently dawned on Robertson after doing the show.

Yesterday he issued a statement attempting to drive the sheep back in the pen after the interview with Wolf Blitzer. “I did not express my full conviction in regard to the question of population growth of mainland China,” said Pat. “I have been and will always be strongly pro-life, and my teachings over the past forty years in private and in public reflect my deeply held convictions.”

“In the CNN interview, I did not preface my remarks with my long-held view, but I merely expressed what to me seemed obvious … that the Chinese people with a population of 1.2 billion will face a tragic dilemma of massive proportions if they permit their population to explode upwards of 2 billion people.”

Not buying that, Pat.

The problem with China isn’t too many kids. China’s trouble is a repressive government that hampers all those folks from bettering their standard of living. Malthusian horrors of Paul Ehrlich proportions are just something to give environmentalists something to lose sleep over. Manhattan is packed to the ceiling with people, but no one calls it overpopulated — just densely populated. While you may not know it from the street manners, the difference is that Manhattan isn’t a Third World nation with depressed economy, no political liberty and a literacy problem worse than a bevy of whole-language dropouts.

Wealthy, free and literate people aren’t overpopulated; they’re just comfortably close.

So rather than blurting out about how the Chinese are “doing what they have to do,” why didn’t Robertson say that China wasn’t doing what it has to do — freeing up its economy, liberating its political system and even taking Mao’s only smart idea and simplifying the written language so that any peasant can reach a degree of competency? Oppression and illiteracy do not a free and happy people make.

Understanding that, China’s one-child policy is not a remedy to right a problem but a symptom of what’s wrong — the Peking pooh-bahs and mandarins have a power fetish and a command-control mindset that governs everything they do.

My fear is that this gaffe represents a growing problem with Pat Robertson — that he’s hoping to garner appreciation as a mainstream pundit, sought by media figures for opinions sensible and middle-of-the-roadish, the voice of reason on the religious right.

This is not what America needs, Pat — especially on topics abortionish.

Planned Parenthood doesn’t need any help.

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