Pat, Jesse & Other Inconsequentials

Written by Russ Smith on . Posted in Breaking News, Posts.



While Jesse Ventura Melts Down
It
was a curious week. Last Sunday, for example, the boys and I were talking early
in the morning about various brands of cereal. “Dad,” Junior
asked, “was peanut butter Cap’n Crunch your favorite breakfast
when you were a kid?” This gave me license to reminisce about the “olden
days,” and so I told him that along with video games, McDonald’s
Happy Meals
, Nickelodeon tv shows, cell phones, the Concorde
and affirmative action, Cap’n Crunch–in any variety–didn’t
even exist when I was his age. Both he and MUGGER III rolled their eyes, as
if to say, “Yeah, sure.” In fact, I said, my preferred cereal was
either Sugar Pops–now known as Corn Pops, and Tony the
Tiger‘s Frosted Flakes. I went down to the deli and bought
boxes of both but the boys turned up their noses at them. “Too old-fashioned,”
Junior said. “Entirely too old-fashioned,” MUGGER III chimed in.



The family
then traversed the West Side Hwy. to meet the members of Junior’s Downtown
Soccer League
team, the Queens Park Rangers, proudly sponsored by
NYPress. Coach Jim Charter handed out uniforms and then the squad
engaged in a half hour or so of booting the ball around, while assignments were
handed out to the parents. Meanwhile, MUGGER III was transfixed by a gorgeous
butterfly that he held in his hand on this sunny, blue-skied morning. I gabbed
with a few other fathers about sports and politics, while Mrs. M caught up with
friends from last season. I was sorry Rick Gilberg, whose son Sam
is in the Soccer League, missed the opening ceremonies (or at least didn’t
capture my sight; it was pretty crowded).


I ran into
Rick, a diehard Bosox fan like myself, the other day while he was jogging
on Hudson St. and he broke stride long enough to tell me he’d been at the
Stadium when Pedro Martinez struck out 17 of those cocky Yanks,
while pitching a one-hitter.


September
is traditionally the month that Boston folds: they may still, even with
just a few days left, but their chances for making the playoffs look pretty
decent. I’m early to bed as a rule, but last Wednesday I couldn’t
leave the Sox-Cleveland game on ESPN 2, watching Pedro fan 14
Injuns, and then leave the game after the seventh because he’d thrown
too many pitches. Boston’s bullpen failed them, and by the ninth the Tribe
was up 6-4 and I went to sleep (at 11 p.m.!) disheartened.


The next
morning, with by-now Tropical Storm Floyd dumping rain on New York
City
and battering the windows of our loft, I was wide awake at 4, and after
a cursory examination of The Drudge Report, tuned into C-SPAN.
Congressman Patrick Kennedy, probably the Royal Clan‘s
most stupid member, was shown at a committee meeting speaking about raising
funds for the 2000 elections. Minority Leader Dick Gephardt, shamelessly
trading on Kennedy’s access to contributors, has entrusted the Rhode
Island
Rep. with shaking down Democrats in an effort to win back the House
of Representatives. Kennedy smiled a lot, made jokes about his famous last name
and was generally inarticulate. Amazingly, this wasn’t enough to put me
back to sleep.


A day later,
reading The New Republic, I immensely enjoyed an item from its “Notebook”
section that described a piece of legislation friend-of-the-working-man Kennedy
put before the House. His bill would entitle those Americans who purchase a
yacht “more than 50 feet in length [to] a tax credit equal to 20 percent
of the price of the boat, up to a limit of $2 million.” Sounds good to
me: any tax cut makes sense. But, as TNR put it, “Who, then, speaks
for the forgotten middle class of 40-foot yacht owners? The Republicans?”


I switched
from C-SPAN to watch the 6 a.m. rebroadcast of Brit Hume‘s excellent
Fox Special Report from the previous night and was delighted when he
showed a clip of Geraldo Rivera, at an Hispanic gathering in DC,
defending Bill Clinton‘s politically calculated clemency for 16
FALN members.


Rivera:
“In an America where so-called conservative politicians can support clemency,
or at least more lenient treatment, for antiabortion violence, or for the IRA,
or for Israeli spies, 311 members of Congress voted to condemn the president
for doing what we begged him to do. Ninety-three members of the United States
Senate, without a single vote in opposition [actually, 95 voted in favor, two
voted in opposition–Senators Daniel Akaka and Paul Wellstone–and three
did not vote], voted like those members of the House did before them to condemn
our president for releasing the Puerto Rican radicals. Where were those same
sanctimonious Senate voices when our government treated as royalty such prominent
former terrorists as Menachem Begin and Yasir Arafat? Where was their outrage
when we reopened relations with Vietnam, a land where the blood of 50,000 of
our fellow citizens, many of them from Puerto Rico, still stains the soil?”


The Fox
panel of Fred Barnes, Morton Kondracke and Mara Liasson
simply cracked up at Rivera’s histrionics, with Kondracke saying he was
“speechless” and, “Wow, this guy is a total shill for Bill Clinton.”
Hume dismissed Geraldo, as most people do, by saying, “I don’t recall
Geraldo as a big supporter of the Vietnam War either, but anyway, he’s
a sweet guy personally.”


As it turned
out, the Sox defeated the Indians in 13 innings and I spent 20 minutes the next
day talking baseball with Brian Mazmanian, ad director Jimmy Katocin‘s
account manager, and an equally rabid Boston fan.


Which reminds
me, it’s appropriate in this Best of Manhattan issue to offer some
unsolicited advice to New Yorker editor David Remnick. I think
Remnick, hampered by the media’s ubiquitous, if dampening, fascination
with his predecessor Tina Brown, is slowly improving the weekly. Granted,
it was Brown who modernized The New Yorker, an estimable achievement,
but Remnick is quietly bridging the gap between her tendency toward glitz and
William Shawn‘s musty perfectionism. Two ideas pop up immediately:
Get rid of Jane Mayer, a slimy political reporter, and Joe Klein,
whose stock has never recovered since his angry and prolonged dissembling on
his authorship of the fine novel Primary Colors.


One more
thing: Put that gray mare Roger Angell out to pasture, dude. Angell,
as the following excerpt from his Sept. 6 essay on tv commentator Tim McCarver
illustrates, is a writer whose exaggeration of the poetry of baseball makes
George Will‘s similar efforts look like Dick Young.
Angell: “Early each year, in this recurring winter dream, I find myself
strapped down on a table in the Baseball Laboratory, with an iron cap affixed
to my head and electrodes hooked up to my toes and torso, while Dr. Pretorius,
the mad scientist, bustles about in his white coat, pushing buttons and pulling
levers that will deliver the most recent shocks and jolts of baseball news to
my quivering psyche.” I yield to no one in my respect for senior citizens,
but Angell has nothing left to say: the baseball beat would be far better served
at The New Yorker by a younger man or woman, my choice being The Boston
Globe
‘s Michael Holley.


And, to
further digress, David Talbot‘s endorsement of Warren
Beatty for president in Salon on Sept. 2 is ample evidence that
this Wavy-Gravy online magazine is of peripheral interest at best. After
the obligatory (and incorrect) nod to John McCain as a worthy “outsider,”
Talbot drops another tab of LSD and gets down to business: “Beatty is the
man for the moment. He should drop his coy antics and jump into the race…
Will he be rejected as too liberal by American voters? Perhaps. But the issues
he is championing can cut across party lines, and if he runs his campaign properly,
Beatty can have strong appeal to the country’s growing base of independent-minded
voters. He could just as easily run as the Reform Party candidate as a Democrat…
At this point in his career, nothing that awaits Beatty on the lots of Warners
or Paramount could equal the challenge of a presidential race, with the upstart
candidate seizing the opportunity to lower his lance against the growing specter
of American ‘plutocracy.’ Commit yourself, Warren. It will be the
role of a lifetime.”


Well, I
suppose we should all be concerned as Talbot about Beatty’s flagging film
career. But if the Salon editor thinks that a pampered actor who dabbles
in politics–unlike Ronald Reagan, who was governor of California
for eight years, as well as active in the Goldwater movement–can
adequately handle the job of president, he really is as deranged as most of
the content on his website indicates.


Speaking
of Salon and glue-factory candidates, Greil Marcus included an
astoundingly tasteless item in his “Real Life Rock Top 10″ of Sept.
7. He quoted from a daily newspaper, under the headline “The Best News
of the Week: Denver Post, Aug. 22″: “Universal Records has confirmed
that Spin Doctors lead singer Chris Barron has been diagnosed with a rare paralysis
of his vocal cords. Barron is meeting with doctors who have indicated that he
may never regain the full use of his voice.” Greil’s a helluva guy,
isn’t he.


Later that
Sunday, with Mom’s help, our sons returned to building a K’Nex
model of a dinosaur as I sat by the computer, amazed at Maureen Dowd‘s
latest column in The New York Times. Flighty Maureen didn’t get
to me–actually, it was one of her best efforts of late, a deft send-up
of Donald Trump and his otherworldly ego. While Pat Buchanan enjoys
the last hours of his Christmas Day, attention-wise, Dowd concentrated
on Trump, just one more notable who Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura
hopes will run against Buchanan for the Reform Party presidential nomination.
Ventura, although he speaks well on television, with that man’s man common
sense that Americans eat up, is increasingly becoming a national joke, but I’ll
get to that later.


Trump was
in prime form for Dowd, offering the following print-bites: “To be blunt,
people would vote for me. They just would.” Why? Dowd asks. “Maybe
because I’m so good looking. I don’t know. Larry King calls and says,
‘Do my show. I get my highest ratings when you’re on.'”


One assumes
Trump was speaking tongue-in-cheek–although you never know–but his
comments on other politicians were very candid. He said Buchanan is “medieval”–I’ll
buy that. Bill Bradley “puts me to sleep. And he was the architect
of a tax plan that cost many more billions than it saved.” Hmm, maybe Bradley’s
started to peak. I’d go for that too, but unfortunately I think Trump is
ahead of the curve on this one.


He’s
not a Hillary Clinton fan, again speaking MUGGERese: “The concept
of the listening tour is ridiculous. People want ideas. Do you think Winston
Churchill, when he was stopping Hitler, went around listening?” Now, that
comment got me thinking that maybe Trump really is contemplating a run against
Buchanan: After all, Pat-Pat the Water Rat is on the record saying that Hitler
should’ve been appeased more, not less, and that some of his ideas
were pretty dang sensible.


Trump likes
Rudy Giuliani, which is no surprise: “He’s made New York the
hottest city in the world. If he gets beaten, it’s virtually unfair.”
Overstatement, of course, since New York has been the “hottest city”
for most of the century, but we’ll take his admiration at face value, since
Rudy’s been berry, berry good to the man too many people still call The
Donald.


My favorite
snipe, for professional reasons, and also because I like honesty, concerned
Talk: “The magazine looks terrible. Elizabeth Taylor on the cover?
Crazy. At least they didn’t use a current picture of her.”


Back to
Ventura. Richard Berke, probably the Times‘ most nakedly
biased liberal reporter, wrote a story for Sept. 19 about the former wrestler
and his squabble with Buchanan and Ross Perot, the Texan pip-squeak whose
main ambition in his dotage is to trip up anybody named Bush. Berke’s
take was typically myopic, presenting Ventura as a surging political force who
could prevent Buchanan from winning the Reform Party nomination, even though
Perot is already in the process of rigging it in the anti-Semite’s favor.
This was an article that would’ve been far more plausible a month ago,
before Ventura had started to turn himself into a national joke.


Consider
how the Governor has melted down: He first touted Lowell Weicker for
president, an old hack who might garner 2 percent in the general election; he
then provoked a fight with the St. Paul Pioneer Press, objecting
to their adult advertising and said he’d cancel his subscriptions at his
offices, a threat he later rescinded. Next he got pissed at Playboy for
moving up an interview with him a month; he told the Minneapolis Star-Tribune
that “It’s a business move on their part. They know the [December]
millennium issue’s gonna sell big. Now they figure they can capitalize
on me in the November issue. I don’t like that they gained the interview
under a false premise and turned right around and basically lied to me.”
Asked by the Strib reporter what he said in the interview, Ventura responded
that he “couldn’t remember.”


Ventura,
who’s the putative leader of the Reform Party, has been so busy with his
own celebrity that he’s let Buchanan, Pat Choate (Perot’s running
mate in ’96) and Ridiculous Ross grasp his control. But Berke, missing
that Ventura is fast losing his grip, if not his mind, writes: “Last week,
Mr. Ventura’s role as the power broker in third-party politics was unmistakable.
After Patrick J. Buchanan all but said he would abandon the Republican Party
to run for President on the Reform Party ticket, attention turned to Mr. Ventura.”
Unmistakable is correct, mostly for his inept reaction. Instead of working,
quietly, behind the scenes to crush Buchanan, whose social views are anathema
to most Reform Party members, Ventura was busy shooting off his mouth to Berke.
One of his more fantastic claims was, “I see myself closest to Abraham
Lincoln. We’re alike in many ways. We were both wrestlers. And we’re
both six-foot-four.” Unlike Trump, you get the feeling that Ventura is
not being facetious.


Democratic
Sen. Joseph Biden, one of the few national politicians willing to speak
negatively about Ventura, told the Times reporter: “In four years,
he’ll be where our boy from Texas is–only without the money.”
Ventura’s reaction: “Who does that guy think he is?… Go out and
ask your average teen-ager today who Jesse Ventura is and who Joe Biden is.
What I’ve accomplished is more than he ever will.”


I don’t
like Biden’s politics at all: He’s a lockstep liberal whose conduct
at the Clarence Thomas confirmation hearings was inexcusable; he’s
supported Bill Clinton when a true man of conscience wouldn’t. However,
in his personal life Biden has faced tremendous adversity and has “accomplished”
far more than the showboat from Minnesota. Just weeks after Biden was elected
to the Senate, at the age of 29, his wife and infant daughter were killed in
a car crash that also critically injured his two young sons. A premature widower,
Biden would commute every day from Delaware to Washington, and then back
again, to be with his sons. In addition, he successfully recovered from a brain
aneurysm that almost took his life in 1988. In my book, those triumphs over
tragedy rate far higher than success in the wrestling ring.


There was
more arresting political news in the papers on Sunday: the New York Post‘s
report that Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan will soon endorse Bradley over
Al Gore, just another sign that unless the former Knick commits
some egregious gaffe this fall, odds are now in his favor to defeat the Vice
President for the Democratic presidential nomination. The groundswell that started
about a month ago for Bradley will not stop soon. Expect more endorsements from
top Democratic officeholders, analysts and rainmakers. And, of course, the inevitable
nod from Jann Wenner at Rolling Stone, who never lets a “movement”
escape his entrepreneurial and starfucking instincts.


This is
not good news for George W. Bush. Bradley’s strong poll numbers
right now are indicative of the American public’s demand for something
positive to happen in government and politics, an antidote to “Clinton
fatigue.” That’s one of the reasons Bush has maintained such enormous
leads over Gore, which, in turn, makes his astonishing fundraising possible.
The brilliance of the Bradley campaign is that it is entirely predicated on
the prevalent desire for leadership and a president who isn’t sleazy. Gore,
as I’ve been repeating almost week after week for two years, is Clinton’s
last victim: He’s done. Back to sloppin’ the hogs and hummin’
Patsy Cline tunes.


The New
York Times
, still covering politics as if it were 1996, refuses to believe
that Gore is in trouble. The paper is so anxious to prop up the Veep that Adam
Clymer‘s Sept. 20 report from San Francisco on Gore’s
campaign contained this incredible lead sentence: “It is sometimes overlooked
in the Bill Bradley buzz from Washington, but Vice President Al Gore is a formidable
candidate for President.” Well, yeah: He’s only been collecting chits
from fellow Democrats for the past seven years. That would make him “formidable.”


But the
“buzz” for Bradley isn’t confined to Washington. Gore is in dire
straits in New Hampshire and New York, and despite Clymer’s
claim of his popularity in California, that state could easily swing to Bradley.
Clymer wrote that the highlight of a fundraiser in Los Altos “might
have been Tipper Gore sitting in on drums with a band descended from the Grateful
Dead.” In addition, who is the first Democrat quoted on Gore’s strength?
Why, Tom Hayden, the goofy state senator who wouldn’t rate a sentence
in a main story about presidential politics four years ago. Hayden, who’s
said he could endorse either Gore or Beatty, told Clymer: “I don’t
feel a Bradley swell except among entertainment people who are basketball freaks.
Of course, that’s a base.”


What the
mainstream press doesn’t understand is that Bradley is deliberately boring,
trying to stay under the radar so that he crests at the right time. If Bush
is lucky–and lately, Bradley’s tack to the left, even echoing McGovern
politics, is a positive sign–the former senator will peak too early and
get cocky. Already, Bradley has annoyed Jesse Jackson by saying that
sexual orientation should be included in the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Jackson,
Mr. Rainbow Coalition, fears that might lead to Congress reversing certain rights
for blacks. I don’t get that logic, but no one ever said that Jackson
wasn’t a loon.


Bush should
ladle out praise for Bradley, express admiration for his character and hype
his chances for defeating Gore. That might screw up Bradley’s strategy.


Meanwhile,
in the Sept. 14 New York Times, the supposedly objective “paper
of record” demonstrated once again its manipulative and dishonest practice
of political reporting. A teaser on the front page, referring to an inside article
on Bush by Frank Bruni, read, in part: “But what political analysts,
some of Mr. Bush’s advisers and Mr. Bush himself say he must still do is
to prove to voters that he has the maturity and poise to lead the nation. Mr.
Bush admits that is ‘a huge step.'”


This is
a completely inaccurate, and I believe intentional, distortion of what Bush
told Bruni. Not once did the candidate mention the loaded word “maturity.”
This is slanted “news” coverage at its worst. What Bush did tell Bruni
was, “It’s a huge step. And in all of my speeches, I say it’s
a big step… I think the real question, though, and the important question
that the American people are going to look at and answer is: Is the person prepared?
You know, more importantly, is the person prepared to make the big decisions
for America? That’s the big stage. And that’s the fundamental question–of
trust.”


In fact,
the word “maturity” is also not found in one of the quotes from Bush’s
inner circle. And while Bruni–grudgingly, one suspects–writes that
the Texas Governor is running an unusual campaign, trying to reach out
to voters not normally courted by Republican presidential candidates, he also
says that Bush’s advisers “acknowledge” that he has to prove
that “there is something real behind those words.” Not one
analyst or adviser is actually quoted to that effect. You’d never see the
Times questioning the “maturity” of Gore or McCain, although
both have made startling remarks that should give voters pause. Gore’s
hypocrisy on the tobacco issue and his score of silly gaffes are subject to
questions of maturity, just as McCain’s off-color public jokes are. Does
the Times really believe that Bush, a 53-year-old man, who has a stable
family life and has twice been elected to lead the nation’s second biggest
state, is “immature”?


In a long
interview with the Washington TimesRalph Z. Hallow,
published on Sept. 20, Bush outlined his first priorities should he be elected
president next year. “[I'd] call the leaders of the Congress and talk
about how we’re going to take care of the elderly by reforming Social Security
and Medicare. Secondly, [I'd] talk about strengthening the military. Thirdly,
[I'd] talk about cutting taxes.”


I’ve
put off writing about Pat Buchanan in this entry for as long as possible, but
he’s not to be ignored. For now. Aside from Hurricane Floyd, Buchanan has
owned the media in the last week, with every pundit evaluating his all-but-certain
third-party candidacy in the general election. While liberal writers are tickled
that he could tilt the presidency to Bradley or Gore, the backlash is now starting.
Buchanan, to put it charitably, is the Sonny Liston of presidential contenders:
a rich, spoiled, sore loser who doesn’t realize that the era of Angry
White Men
is over. His opportunistic alliance with the Reform Party is bizarre:
He just wants their money. Not only does he disagree with every social stance
of the party–abortion, gays in the military (hell, gays in general) and
school prayer, just for starters–but he’s now mixed up with the likes
of Lenora Fulani (former chair of the extreme left-wing New Alliance
party), Ventura and Perot.


The following
exchange between conservative columnist Robert Novak and Fulani
on the Sept. 14 edition of Crossfire shows just how mixed-up the Reform
Party is.


Novak:
“[Y]ou had a statement earlier this year in which you were talking about
Senator Jesse Helms, and you said he ‘is considered a champion of the anti-affirmative
action, anti-gay, anti-labor, anti-abortion agenda. He has been a strategic
commander of the culture wars that forced American liberalism onto the ropes.’
Being really honest and accurate, that could have been said about Pat Buchanan
as easy as Jesse Helms, couldn’t it?”


Fulani:
“Absolutely. And one of the exciting things about Mr. Buchanan considering
coming into the Reform Party, is that we’re talking about the possibility
of moving beyond those cultural wars, in the way that politics is played, and
building a party that is nonideological. He’s leaving a partisan party,
if he chooses to do so, to become part of what I think is a new populist movement
in this country.”


Got that?


Let me repeat
the obvious: Buchanan is an anachronism. He’s a gifted orator, a skilled
debater and a man who has passionate beliefs. But his anti-immigration, anti-free
trade and fanatic pro-life views only appeal to a limited segment of the United
States’ citizens in 1999. If you ain’t white, Christian and
ready to return to Teddy Roosevelt‘s era, Buchanan has no use for
you as a person or as your president. His shrill campaign speeches, punctuated
by jokes and historical references, will soon wear thin, as his real message
sinks in. When the general election begins in earnest next fall, with voters
(rather than just the media) focused, Buchanan’s poll numbers will drop.
I doubt that he can win more than 6 or 7 percent of the vote.


Read the
following excerpts from Buchanan’s speech at the Ames, IA,
straw poll in August and tell me that anyone but the most rabid, hard-core
reactionary will vote for him. After touting his Ronald Reagan
credentials (who never made abortion a key issue in his two elections), Buchanan
said: “Roe v. Wade is an ugly scar across the face of America. We
got to remove that scar and then God will hear this people, and He will heal
our land… You know, the party of Reagan…was a party of working men and
women in this country, of Teamsters and steelworkers and textile workers. Yet
now we see the farmers of Iowa in a depression… Our economic independence
is being lost and our sovereignty is being eroded… What is the party of Reagan
doing? Sacrificing the working men and women of this country on the altars of
NAFTA and GATT and the World Trade Organization in Clinton and Gore’s New
World Order! What are we doing, this party of ours? Well, let me tell you–to
all those internationalists and globalists, whether they be in Washington or
up at the U.N. or in Bonn or Paris or Tokyo or New York, let me tell you something.
When I raise my hand to take that oath of office as president of the United
States, your New World Order comes crashing down!”


After presenting
his bona fides as an isolationist, Buchanan continues: “We got our armed
forces spread all over the country, my friends, spread all over the world. They’re
defending borders in Korea, in Kuwait, in Kosovo. What we need to do is rebuild,
rearm and replenish that military and bring them home. And if you want to defend
a border, why don’t they try defending the southern border of the United
States of America!”


This is
entertaining as sitcom rhetoric, as a relief from the waffling of the Clinton
administration, but it’s an act that’s about to be canceled.


Although
a few dotty conservatives such as the National Review‘s John
O’Sullivan
are egging Buchanan on, deluding themselves into thinking,
as O’Sullivan wrote in the Sept. 13 issue of NR, that his capture
of the Reform Party nomination would let him “shed all the social baggage
of Republicanism–its reputation as the self-interested ideology of the
country-clubber and the coupon-clipper,” this isn’t a majority view.
After all, the Christian Coalition‘s former leader Ralph
Reed
is backing Bush; the editor of The Washington Times,
Wesley Pruden, wrote on Sept. 14, “Today, the world. Tomorrow, Rockville.
Nothing’s sadder to watch than a man who won’t leave when his 15 minutes
of fame are up.”


Last Wednesday,
on Hardball, William Bennett was fairly definitive on the relative
insignificance of Buchanan leaving the GOP, as well as the caveman’s nonsensical
claim that there’s no difference between the two major parties. It might
be news to Buchanan, but there’s a huge gulf between Teddy Kennedy,
David Bonior and Tom Daschle, as compared to Don Nickles,
Lindsey Graham and George W. Bush. When Chris Matthews asked if
the Republican nominee would suffer as a result of Buchanan’s defection,
Bennett answered: “Might lose some votes, but I think we should let him
go. I think it’s time. Look, he’s a fading figure in the Republican
party… The Republican Party may not be sufficiently pro-life for Pat Buchanan,
but it’s a lot more pro-life than the Reform Party.”


Then Matthews
asked what the GOP should do to keep Buchanan among its ranks. Bennett: “I
wouldn’t offer him anything to stay. Look, there are things that Pat espouses
that I believe are wrong. And there is a body language, there is a way in which
he speaks that I think is offensive.”


Liberal
media outlets are trying to play up Buchanan’s upcoming defection. In a
Sept. 27 Newsweek article, reporter Matt Bai wrote that while
Buchanan isn’t likely to top Perot’s 8 percent in ’96, he would
“draw critical votes from Bush–a prospect that panics Republicans.”
He then quotes Frank Luntz, a Republican pollster who’d like to
be somebody’s Dick Morris, saying, “We need that Buchanan vote,
and we’re not going to get it by ripping him to shreds. We’re going
to get it by respecting his ideas and reminding voters that a vote for Pat Buchanan
is really a vote for Al Gore.” Bai continues by writing that the Reform
Party isn’t at all worried about “helping elect a President Gore.”
Tellingly, Bai doesn’t mention Bill Bradley once in his article.


Al Hunt,
writing in the Sept. 9 Wall Street Journal, was also happy to give credence
to Buchanan’s importance in the election. Hunt: “Still, Mr. Buchanan
has a thought-out, sincerely-held, cogent world view that doesn’t have
to be checked and calibrated with consultants and pollsters. With the exception
of John McCain [but of course], that makes him virtually unique among presidential
aspirants. Thus it may well be that a Buchanan candidacy is the only way these
important issues are going to be addressed in the 2000 race.”


It’s
this kind of baloney that encouraged Joe Conason, in last week’s
New York Observer
, to claim, erroneously, that “the Spanish-speaking
Mr. Bush” is trying to coddle Buchanan. That’s plain wrong. It’s
true that the GOP’s dim-witted chairman Jim Nicholson is begging
Buchanan to stay, as is, apparently, Luntz, and several other Republican officeholders.
But they’re in the minority. While Bush did speak to Buchanan in Iowa a
month ago, asking him to remain in the party, once he realized that the vanity
candidate was mentally gone, he shut the door on the issue. Bush, in The
Washington Times interview, said, “I certainly would not offer anything,
except for my desire for him to stay in.” Translation: Go, stay, I don’t
really care at this point. Bush, and his brain trust, have moved beyond the
Buchanan defection, concentrating on the much more critical threat of Bradley.


Conason,
one assumes, given his vigilant defense of the Clintons, supports Gore and will
continue to bash Bush right up till Election Day. But like the out-of-touch
pundits at Time, Newsweek and The New York Times,
Conason wouldn’t know the right wing of the Republican Party from the right-winger
for the Detroit Red Wings.


Unlike boobs
like Nicholson, prominent conservative writers are welcoming the loss of Buchanan.
Steve Chapman, in the Sept. 19 Chicago Tribune, said: “Pro-life
voters, fearful of letting Al Gore stack the Supreme Court with judges loyal
to Roe vs. Wade, aren’t going to be eager to cast their vote for a sure
loser.”


In Monday’s
Boston Globe, Jeff Jacoby wrote: “The message is hard to
miss: Republicans aren’t buying what Pat Buchanan is selling. Maybe that’s
because the more this supposed conservative talks, the more he sounds like a
liberal crank. Let him bolt the GOP. The GOP will be better off without him.”


William
Safire
concluded his Sept. 16 New York Times column with yet another
take: “So now Democrats root for the nativist Buchanan to get the Reform
nomination just as Republicans root for the liberal Warren Beatty. Neither major
party would allow those would-be spoilers to be part of the Presidential TV
debates; the Reform Party would be doomed to represent the resentful fringes
of left or right. You don’t have to be Jewish to know that’s not in
America’s interest.”


Finally,
The Weekly Standard‘s Bill Kristol, in the Sept. 27
issue: “A successful demagogue needs the ferocity of a lion and the cunning
of a fox. Thankfully, Pat Buchanan doesn’t quite measure up. He’s
just Pat the Bunny, hopping around on the fringes of American politics, wiggling
his nose in the air and nibbling away at whatever carrots our political system
offers up for his purposes.”


As this
wave of backlash against Buchanan continues in the conservative press–and
let’s not forget Rush Limbaugh, who’s solidly behind Bush–the
laggards in the Republican Party will realize that they’re better off without
him.



SEPTEMBER
20


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