Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Pat Buchanan And The Politics Of Yesterday

(image via ajcsr)

Ever wondered how ham-fisted, chicken-fried-steak-and-potatoes eating commentator Pat Buchanan gets away with the crypto-antisemitism, those vague whiffs of Hispanic bigotry couched in English-Only rhetoric? We do. Pat's obsession with the state of the American/Mexico border can not be properly construed as anything other than Assy. Even conservative patron saint, the late Bill Buckley wrote, at the end of the Cold War, when Pat increasingly substituted Israel for his previous bete-noir the Soviet Union, "I find it impossible to defend Pat Buchanan against the charge that what he did and said during the period under examination amounted to anti-Semitism, whatever it was that drove him to say and do it: most probably, an iconoclastic temperament." If you go in for that sort of thing (Averted Gaze).

Buchanan's hatred, however, transcends Judaism (There goes his B'Nai Brith "Man of the Year" Award). In January 1991 on the old "This Week with David Brinkley," Pat, saucy, said, "If we had to take a million immigrants in, say Zulus, next year, or Englishmen, and put them up in Virginia, what group would be easier to assimilate and would cause less problems for the people of Virginia?" Charmed, I'm sure.

Buchanan knows of Zulus. While his fellow right-wingers contented themselves backing the illegitimate claims of Buthelezi's Inkatha Party to split the influence of Mandela's ANC, thus making the business of subjugating South African blacks easier, we cannot fail to note Patrick J. Buchanan went the extra mile to support the Pik Botha regime: Buchanan disgustingly lobbied President Ford to appoint him Ambassador to South Africa. White Supremacist Game recognize White Supremacist Game, we suppose, as Botha was nicknamed "The Crocodile," and Buchanan is seen as the "Pit Bull" of the American Right (Averted Gaze).

In the thick of the Nixonian Zeitgeist, Afrikaners offered luxury trips to conservative authors, trying, filthily, to swing public opinion (through newspaper Op-Ed pages) in their favor. Hotels, golf, la dolce vita. They must have struck a haunting Minor Key in the quiet of Pat's adolescent Us-versus-Them mind. President Ford, showing exceptional judgement, nipped that foolishness in the bud. And so Buchanan, who is temperamentally the farthest thing from the ideal American diplomat(Exaggerated cough suggesting feigned detachment), was spared the honor of representing the interests of the Boers against "the darkies." Since then we've had to endure his shitty columns.

Buchanan, you see, is the goddam luckiest bigot in the world. He is Archie Bunker born under a lucky star; he is Mister Magoo falling down the open manhole into a better media position. Although there are no more minstrel shows, Pat Buchanan, paleoconservativem has survived on -- mirabile dictu! -- MSNBC and on "The McLaughlin Group." After the bomb drops it will be up to Amy Winehouse, Keith Richards and Pat Buchanan to repopulate (Eew)a barren, post-apocalyptic earth. Pat is the marginally dangerous hound in the Norman Rockwell paintings threatening, impotently, at nipping at the ankles of anyone who disturbs the fragile equilibrium of that false 50s America of virtuous girls in hoop skirts and the Brylcreem-groomed boys who escort them to dances in the church auditorium chaperoned by Jesuits. Buchanan's greatest moment -- his 1992 Presidential run -- split the Klan vote with David Duke and, clumsily (Oops), showed Bush 41 in the Republican primaries as weak, leading, ultimately, to his ignoble defeat at the hands of Clinton (with a little help from Perot).

As bigots go, though, Pat Buchanan is ferociously adaptable. He realizes however reluctantly that the days when he could ask a President Ford for round-trip to South Africa are passed -- and besides, the blacks control South Africa now. And so, in his last quixotic Presidential run Pat actually picked an African-American woman -- albeit a batshit crazy one -- to be his running mate. This, to be sure, must have charmed his The Buchanan Brigades ("lock and load") south of the Mason-Dixon line who so deeply, deeply care about the plight of the American Negro.

Buchanan has also slipped, slyly, into a realm of crypto racism, masking his anti-Semitism in the service of badly researched history.

Ed Koch, in The Koch Papers, takes on Buchanan and the question The Corsair has often asked himself in frustration: Why did Pat Buchanan have a career? Why didn't someone stand up and write this man out of civilized society? From The Koch Papers. the former Mayor of New York has similar thoughts:

"Jesse Jackson at first denied, in 1984, that he had referred to New York City as 'Hymie Town.' But The Washington post reporter who heard Jackson's anti-Semitic slur was sufficiently convincing to the public, and Jackson soon admitted his guilt and apologized. Some critics may have doubted the sincerity of that apology, but because Jackson enjoyed significant sympathy, both among his political constituents and a segment of the media, he was able to continue his public career more or less unscathed.

"At the other end of the political spectrum, Pat Buchanan never apologized for blaming American Jews for US involvement in the first Gulf War. Nor has he recanted his praise of Adolf Hitler, his defense of various Nazi war criminals, or his claim that the gassing facilities in the Nazi Treblinka Death Camp 'did not emit enough carbon monoxide to kill anybody.' Yet Buchanan to this day appears regularly on national television. How many public figures or pundits have refused, on principle, to appear with him on TV? It seems that the perception that Buchanan represents a significant constituency has blunted some of the opposition to his bigotry."

On a positive note, if Pat Buchanan represents a lowest common denominator appeal straight out of the dark, Irish peat bog, Senator Jim Webb represents a higher quality of light. Webb, also Scots-Irish, seems to have recovered from the wounds of Vietnam, marrying the Vietnamese-American lawyer Hong Lee Webb who he calls his "warrior queen." And while Buchanan, in his last act on the global stage, mires himself in the politics of yesterday and his own eccentric interpretations of revisionist history, Webb, an up-and-comer in the United States Senate represents a positive future. And that's a good thing.


FWeever said...

Interesting post, until: Ed Koch? He's now supposed to be a good reference? Or he's just good at bulldozing anyone who walks too close to "anti-semitism". I'm just trying for some orientation here.

Ron said...

Good point. Well, Ed Koch sort of launched me in the rant. I thought it was interesting that Koch turned on Buchanan, buried in the pages of his Papers. But my interpretation on Buchanan is in many ways separate than his although we share the same post. Maybe I should separate them?

well-contented day said...

I've been a reader for years and have been meaning to tell you how much I love your blog, but this post is so wonderfully written it made me actually do it. "he is Mister Magoo falling down the open manhole into a better media position"...perfectly said. Thanks for saying what you say so well.