Burton S. Blumert
Patrick J. Buchanan finally decides he's had enough of presidential
campaigning, he will surely be primed for a career as a master of
the release of his new book, A
Republic, Not An Empire, Buchanan has had more exposure
on cable TV than Lanny Davis, Arianna Huffington and Alan Dershowitz
put together. For Pat, every tv appearance was like walking through
an oft-visited minefield, but he always emerged unscathed and one
wag noted that Buchanan has no reverse gear.
was an appearance on the Geraldo Rivera show. Pat and Dershowitz
had equal time, separately, to present their case. Dershowitz, on
first, predictably, spewed a stream of invective. The charges were
familiar: Buchanan is an anti-Semite, a Hitler apologist, and a
Holocaust denier. The always-venomous Dershowitz became especially
agitated and shrill when he spoke of Buchanans book and WWII
Rivera could hardly conceal his blackjack when it was Pats
turn before the camera. The small group in my living room dug in
awaiting Buchanans retaliation it never came. Suppressing
a smile, Pat expressed wonder at the professors apoplectic
hate. He proceeded to control the balance of the show, answering
those questions he chose to, deflecting the transparent barbs, making
all his points, and only occasionally finding it necessary to defang
veteran Buchanan watchers, however, are surprised by the width and
breadth of the present assault upon him. The cast of characters
was much the same in 1990-91. Their hate campaign was ignited by
Pats passionate opposition to U.S. involvement in the Persian
Gulf. They lobbied CNN to dump Pat. They also exerted pressure to
get newspapers to drop his syndicated column. Pat fought back, and
although he had few public figures as allies, he survived.
anti-Buchanan skirmish occurred a year later when Pat challenged
an incumbent Republican president. A mythology evolved over Buchanans
speech at the Republican convention in Houston. In addition to the
usual charges, Pat was portrayed as a scowling and angry man. But
he prevailed again, in 1996 scaring the hell out of the establishment
by winning the New Hampshire primary. For a few days their worst
nightmare was the possibility that Pat could beat Dole and win the
his charm and wit are grudgingly acknowledged. But they charge that
he uses these skills to devious ends, seducing colleagues and concealing
1990-91, the campaign against Buchanan was a coordinated effort
by the ADL, and I am convinced that a similar orchestration exists
today. All the usual suspects get regular press packets and memos,
but they really aren't necessary. Each player knows the party line,
and his obligation to advance it.
from the usual villains the New York Times, the Washington
Post, the Wall Street Journal, the TV networks
the hitmen now launch their missiles from such Internet sites as
Salon and Slate.
piles on editorial, and feature columnists, including the alleged
conservatives, vilify Pat. "Hes soft on Hitler,"
is the central theme, except for those who call him a second Hitler.
isnt important to actually read Pats book. You only
have to read your instructions and repeat the lies.
a huge op-ed in the Oct. 25 Wall Street Journal, Norman Podhoretz
made what was supposed to be the definitive attack on Pat. Podhoretz,
editor-at-large, of Commentary magazine, a senior fellow
of the Hudson Institute, and godfather of the neocon wing of the
warfare-welfare party, makes the same tired old charges against
Pat, adding the specious accusations drawn from Pats book
(which he apparently did not read).
Podhoretzs piece is important because it provides a clue to
the strategy Pats enemies will employ in the days ahead. First,
however, I want to expose some of Podhoretzs most glaring
support his position that Pat is soft on Hitler, Podhoretz extracts
a quote from an old column of Pats describing the "Fuhrer
as an individual of great courage, a soldiers soldier in the
Great War". Grudgingly, Podhoretz quotes Pats following
statement that Hitler was also "a man who without compunction
could commit murder and genocide."
you have it. The evidence that Pat is soft on Hitler. (Here, by
the way, is more of the quote, from 1977: "Those of us in childhood
during the war years were introduced to Hitler only as a caricature....
Though Hitler was indeed racist and anti-Semitic to the core, a
man who without compunction could commit murder and genocide, he
was also an individual of great courage, a soldiers soldier
in the Great War, a leader steeped in the history of Europe, who
possessed oratorical powers that could awe even those who despised
him. But Hitlers success was not based on his extraordinary
gifts alone. His genius was an intuitive sense of the mushiness,
the character flaws, the weakness masquerading as morality that
was in the hearts of the statesmen who stood in his path.")
hit piece then moves on to the case of John Demjanjuk. Pat almost
single-handedly held that it was a case of mistaken identity, and
that Demjanjuk was not "Ivan the Terrible" from the Treblinka
death camp. Finally, the Israeli Supreme Court exonerated this working-class
Catholic grandfather, and Pat was proven right in pursuing a noble
Podhoretz had a different view. He says, "But it turned out
that if Mr. Demjanjuk had not been a guard at Treblinka, he had
served in the same capacity at Sobibor, another death camp."
he did, Poddy, but this smear couldn't be proven in court either.
Mr. Podhoretz cites John Muravchik, a contributor to Commentary
magazine, and one of the pack-dogs constantly snipping at Buchanan.
Muravchik wonders if "Buchanan was a dove on the Gulf Crisis
just because of his animus against Israel."
Pats fervent dislike of foreign wars renders Muravchiks
bulk of Podhoretzs piece is a rambling tirade accusing Buchanan
of anti-Semitism. I will not use this space to refute him, but respectfully
refer readers to "Pat Buchanan and the Menace of Anti-Anti-Semitism"
by Murray N. Rothbard (Rothbard-Rockwell Report, Volume 1,
No. 8, Dec. 1990).
to the party line according to Norm: most Republican Party hacks
recognize that Pat Buchanan on the Reform Party ticket spells almost
certain doom for George W. Bush. Thats not the way Norm sees
it. With some help from William Kristol they submit the following
wisdom: "Mr. Buchanans defection may help Mr. Bush....
Without the Buchanan albatross around his neck, Mr. Bush will be
protected against the Democratic accusation that he is a moderate
fronting for the worst elements of the radical Right."
word is out, and I predict they will be selling this mantra using
the usual suspects as their pitchmen (the wholly owned Rush Limbaugh
claimed this on his radio show on Oct. 26).
neocons are smart. The ugly campaign they orchestrate against Pat
simply reveals how much they fear him. But that is no excuse. There
are plenty of legitimate reasons to criticize Pat Buchanan, but
the scurrilous charges against him should not go unchallenged.
S. Blumert is president of the Center
for Libertarian Studies in Burlingame, CA.