Will The Real Pat Buchanan Please Stand Up?

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I
for one would like to know who is advising and running Pat Buchanan’s
campaign. Whoever it is should be fired. If Pat really wants to
be a player in this election he is going to have to make some big
changes and make them really quick. Because if Pat continues down
this road he will never break the 5% mark in November.

I
write this not as a Buchanan hater, but as a Buchanan admirer. But
my admiration does not cloud what seems to be obvious: Pat, you’re
running a bad campaign. Pat, do you really think you are going to
have an impact on the election, let alone win, when your campaign
is built around foreign policy and a holy war against trade, two
issues most voters don’t give a rat’s behind about?

This
is not to suggest that those issues aren’t important. Indeed, keeping
America out of foolish foreign wars that are none of its business
is an issue of monumental importance. The “benevolent global
hegemony” absurdness that comes from the crew over at the Weekly
Standard coupled with the new militancy on the left to venture
into countless foreign wars to end “hate” is something
we should all fear. But, as was the case in Vietnam, the sad truth
is that most Americans won’t look at this as a major campaign issue
until we are actually bogged down somewhere losing countless American
lives.

The
trade issue is getting more play than usual this year with the debate
over the WTO and normal trade relations for China. However most
Americans don’t know what the WTO or GATT is and really don’t care.
But if one took a look at Pat’s columnist archives since 1993, you’d
see Pat thinks that international trade is the most important issue
facing Americans. Pat has always been on solid ground opposing NAFTA
and the WTO as the institutions do not promote real free trade,
but instead promote big government and more bureaucracy.

As
Congressman Ron Paul has said, “If one truly believes in free
trade, one never argues a need for reciprocity or bureaucratic management
of trade. If free trade is truly beneficial, as so many claim, unilateral
free trade is an end in itself and requires neither treaties nor
international management by politicians and bureaucrats. A country
should promote free trade in its own self-interest — never for the
benefit of someone else.”

But
Pat has denounced trade in itself and for those of us who believe
in a free-market economy, we have good reason to be alarmed. Pat
even took his economic arguments so far as to devote a portion of
his book The
Great Betrayal
to defending the very high Smoot-Hawley tariff,
an absolute disaster which deepened and lengthened the Great Depression.
He has since called free trade a “Faustian deal with the Devil.”

Pat
even echoed socialist Ralph Nader’s call for private companies to
pledge allegiance to the US government at their annual meetings,
when they are supposed to be paying attention to their owners, the
stockholders.

This
type of rhetoric appeals greatly to trade unionists and those on
the environmental left. Pat hopes to build a coalition of voters
of both the left and right who are opposed to global trade and dreams
of global nation building. But there is a problem with this. The
zany left wing eco-freaks of the environmental left by and large
have disdain for Buchanan. The vast majority of tree lovers will
support Ralph Nader, not Pat Buchanan if they choose to abandon
Gore.

Secondly,
organized labor, which is bitterly partisan, will always blindly
endorse Democrats no matter how often their chums in the Democratic
Party stab them in the back. If the UAW and Teamsters were consistent
they would endorse Pat, but they won’t. There is also no sign that
rank and file members of the unions are going to flood the Buchanan
Brigade, even though many union members are culturally conservative
and share Buchanan’s economic views. Buchanan has even pledged to
appoint James Hoffa to his cabinet at an anti-trade China rally
last month. But even after all the friendly overtures to the Teamster
and UAW types, Buchanan’s presence at the rally and speech wasn’t
even mentioned in the UAW magazine Solidarity, which covered
the event.

But
what appears to have hurt Buchanan the most this election cycle
was his failure to properly respond to the ridiculous criticisms
hurled at him after the release of his book A
Republic, Not An Empire
. The critics, most long time Buchanan-haters,
seized the opportunity to use Buchanan’s heretical claim on pages
261-267 that Britain’s unrealistic war guarantee to Poland was a
mistake to further the charge that Buchanan was a “Hitler lover”
and “anti-Semite” and now that he was “disgracing
the legacy of our World War II veterans.”

The
charges were absolute bunk and resulted in a stream of television
appearances by Buchanan and op-ed pieces in the newspapers. But
on these same television shows buffoons like Alan Dershowitz were
foaming at the mouth and hysterically screaming about Buchanan’s
“Fascism.” Buchanan’s reply was a that of a calm historian
who greatly overestimated the knowledge of the same audience he
was trying to sway in his favor. What Pat probably didn’t realize
is that most of the viewing audience had no idea what on God’s green
earth he was talking about, but they surely understood the hysteriacs
on the talk shows calling him a Hitler-loving bigot.

This
was not the same Pitbull Pat that many had grown to love, the guy
who didn’t take no bull from anybody. And it’s hard to deny that
the whole book controversy didn’t hurt him. When Buchanan first
flirted with the idea of going to the Reform Party, hypothetical
polls showed him in the double digits. An August poll even had him
at 16% against Gore and Bush, a number that if maintained would
without question qualify him for the national debates in October
by the debate commissions own guidelines.

But
soon after the switch to the Reform Party and after the vicious
character assassination Buchanan received from the press, pundits,
and politicians from all sides of the political spectrum, Pat silently
faded away from the public eye on a silent quest to build the Reform
Party and pick up delegates. The press coverage he did get focused
on Pat’s unwise decision to name Lenora Fulani, an African-American
Marxist, as a campaign co-chair. The move was intended to help build
a coalition but what it did was further alienate conservatives.
Besides, blacks aren’t going to be flooding the Buchanan Brigade
anytime soon, and making Fulani co-chairman only gave his enemies
another stick to beat him with.

But
while Pat faded away from the public eye, the Reform Party did not.
Journalists did everything they could to highlight the divisions
in the Reform Party between the Venturaites and the Perotites. Verbal
food fights between the two groups continued until its embarrassing
climax at a highly contentious Reform Party meeting where Jack Gargan
was removed as party chairman.

Immediately
following the meeting Jesse Ventura, the party’s highest ranking
elected official resigned from the party calling it “hopelessly
dysfunctional” and took his Minnesota crew with him. Since
then Gargan’s replacement, Pat Choate, has resigned his chairmanship
citing family illness and Ross Perot is reportedly not going to
address the Reform Party convention and may even urge that the convention
endorse nobody. This has all given the impression that the Reform
Party is a “joke” and a “party of clowns.” While
this isn’t fair to many members of the Reform Party, it is nonetheless
what the public perceives them as.

If
Buchanan wants to have an impact in this election he is going to
have to start talking about the issues that made him prominent and
that voters are concerned about. Pat rarely talks about reducing
the size of government anymore or curbing wasteful spending. Pat
has been almost silent on the issue of tax cuts and still has not
proposed a detailed tax plan. He could easily assail the wimpy tax
cut of Governor Bush with his own bold tax plan, but until now has
not. Gone is the Pat Buchanan who railed against unconstitutional
government agencies that stole the freedom and the hard-earned money
from Americans. Where did that Pat go?

In
Pat’s 1989 biography Right
From The Beginning
in a sectioned entitled “Whose schools
are they anyway,” Buchanan charged Americans to take back their
public schools from the failing social experiments, anti-Americanism
and dumbed-down education. Today Pat is silent on this very important
issue. While education is shown to be one of the most important
issues to voters, if not the most important issue, Buchanan has
ignored it.

But
more troubling has been Buchanan’s almost complete silence on social
and moral
issues that once defined him. Since his switch to the Reform Party,
Pat
has dropped abortion from his stump speeches only with the occasional
veiled
reference
to protecting life. To avoid the charge that he has abandoned these
issues Buchanan will occasionally put a pro-life statement on his
campaign website and will occasionally make a pro-life statement
to the press. What is more important Pat, to appease some liberals
in the Reform Party or to stand by your those who have followed
you loyally for years because of your strong moral values?

Pat
has also recently stated that he would not have an openly homosexual
individual person as a running mate or cabinet member, but also
sought to clarify that there were good homosexuals out there. The
result was the usual suspects and the Reform Party secretary calling
him “hateful” and “intolerant,” but also conservatives
under the impression that he was trying to have it both ways. He
also recently penned an op-ed for the Washington Times blasting
the hatred hurled at Southerners by the liberal establishment and
also criticized John McCain’s flip-flop position on the Confederate
flag.

But
if one goes back to 1994 and reads a column by Buchanan on the same
subject he wrote for the New York Post, they will see a much
braver and heroic Buchanan. Again, what happened to that Pat Buchanan?

Where
have you been on guns Pat? The “Sucker Mom’s” as columnist
Don Feder as called them are determined to get us to register our
guns, and they have the support of the President and the entire
liberal establishment. While George Bush is trying to flee rumors
that he is in the NRA’s pocket, why aren’t you on the front lines
for us, Pat? Why aren’t you doing more to get the immigration issue
on the table, an issue where most American’s agree with you? What
happened to your strong opposition to affirmative action? Why aren’t
you out making the case against racial preferences? Or was there
an implicit or explicit deal with Fulani to drop such issues?

Why
aren’t you campaigning to restore the 10th Amendment
and delegate powers back to the state instead of a growing federal
government? Where are you on social security “reform”?
Why aren’t you attacking the environmental extremism of Al Gore
and the dangers of liberalism in general? What ever happened to
that brave Pat Buchanan who stood up at the Republican convention
in 1992 and called attention to the seriousness of the Culture War
and the need for conservatives to take back their country? Where
is that brave Pat Buchanan that stood up to the Israeli lobby?

That
was the Pat Buchanan that got votes and inspired people. This new
“moderate, coalition building” Buchanan has resulted in
soaring poll numbers of 3-4%. Pat is now trying to reach out to
“McCain voters” by picking up the mantle of campaign finance
reform and has said he wants to shed the image that he is “mean-spirited.”
First of all, the “McCain voters” are a mythical group.
The vast majority of people that voted for McCain did so because
they liked the guy’s personal story and saw him as an inspiring
figure and war hero, not because they were so concerned about campaign
finance reform. Secondly, the hard core leftists and neoconservatives
are always going to hate you, Pat. They will never forgive you for
the “amen corner” quip. They will never excuse your 20-year-old
statements against the militant gay rights crowd. They will never
stop calling you a “Hitler lover.” They will never stop
obnoxiously taking your quotes out of context and will never forgive
you for not declaring allegiance to Israel. So stop trying to pander
to them, it’s not going to work.

So
what are your real motives Pat? Is it just to build a party in your
own image and to say you were a nominee of a political party for
President thus increasing your speaking fees, or is it to win the
Presidency, save America from moral collapse and reverse the trend
of growing intrusive government? If it’s the latter I hope you change
your tactics. The old Pat Buchanan can make this a three way race,
the new Pat Buchanan has no chance. The old Pat Buchanan can heroically
rally up the troops and inspire people, the new Pat Buchanan cannot.
So, will the real Pat Buchanan please stand up? When you do, I and
many others might just reenlist in the Buchanan Brigades. If not
we will just have to live with the lesser of two evils.

May
15, 2000

Bill
Barnwell
is a freelance journalist and co-editor in chief of
www.thepotatoe.com

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