John Feehery: Speaking Engagements

Header

Pat Buchanan

Posted on February 21, 2012


“Like many of you last month, I watched that giant masquerade ball at Madison Square Garden–where 20,000 radicals and liberals came dressed up as moderates and centrists–in the greatest single exhibition of cross-dressing in American political history.

One by one, the prophets of doom appeared at the podium. The Reagan decade, they moaned, was a terrible time in America; and the only way to prevent even worse times, they said, is to entrust our nation’s fate and future to the party that gave us McGovern, Mondale, Carter and Michael Dukakis….Elect me, and you get two for the price of one, Mr. Clinton says of his lawyer-spouse. And what does Hillary believe? Well, Hillary believes that 12-year-olds should have a right to sue their parents, and she has compared marriage as an institution to slavery–and life on an Indian reservation.

Well, speak for yourself, Hillary.”

I was in Houston when Pat Buchanan delivered that speech, which I thought at the time was one of the greatest convention speeches in history.  But like William Jennings Bryant “Cross of Gold” Speech, it didn’t yield any great political victory.

I may have thought that the speech was great.  The Bush re-election team, though, had another point of view.  They were worried that it was too bombastic, too shrill, and that it turned off the independent voters.

They may have been right, although I still think that it was a great speech.  And had President George Herbert Walker Bush spent more a couple minutes thinking about a domestic agenda, he would have been in stronger position to contend against Bill Clinton.

Pat Buchanan became a hero to me in my college years, when he was one of the co-hosts of the old CNN program “Crossfire.”   He battled Tom Braden throughout most of the 1980’s, and he had the courage to voice the frustrations that many of us felt towards liberals and liberalism.

Buchanan knew his history and he put a happy face on conservatism.  He had a ready smile and he laughed at his jokes and he made politics fun.

When I moved to Washington in 1989, Buchanan was somebody I wanted to meet, and eventually, I did meet him through his former colleague and one of my mentors in the Bob Michel Office, Bill Gavin.  Gavin and Buchanan worked together in the Nixon White House.

Buchanan has one major attribute that is extraordinarily in important in politics.  He is loyal.  He was famously loyal to Richard Nixon and similarly loyal to Ronald Reagan.

He is also loyal to his people, which is defined loosely as angry blue-collar white folks.  And his political career was defined by his efforts to stick up for them.

The Buchanan Brigades were the original Tea Partiers.  He ran against Bush because he believed that Bush veered too far away from the principles of Ronald Reagan and had let those blue-collar folks down.   He ran against Bob Dole in the primaries because he believed that Dole was not up to the task of representing those same folks.  He ran on the Reform Party because he believed that neither the Republican nor Democrat Party was sticking up for his people.

Buchanan fought against free trade because free trade was killing the jobs of his people.  He condemned both wars in Iraq, because he didn’t those wars were in the interest of his people.   He fought against affirmative action because it hurt his people.  He fought against gay rights because gays offended his people (and his Church).

His people aren’t always right, and there are some dark sides to the resentments that come from the white working class America.  And Pat at times inappropriately gave us a glimpse into that dark side.

Buchanan always denied that he is an anti-Semite, and you shouldn’t have to battle those charges if you simply oppose pro-Israeli foreign policies, but Buchanan hasn’t necessarily made it easy for his supporters to defend him from those charges.

Buchanan put the rage in context when he appeared on television and that served an important purpose, no matter how politically incorrect.  He spoke the language of the alienated white middle class, but he did so with a smile, and by doing so, he softened the blow a bit.  He put those resentments into the public square, and in doing so, he allowed the white working class to understand that they were being heard.

Some on the left might be offended by Buchanan’s sensibilities and opinions, but those opinions and sensibilities are not the ravings of a lone mad man, but the resentments of a significant portion of the American people.   And they have a right to be heard.

Pat Buchanan doesn’t necessarily speak for me on every issue, but I understand where his frustrations are coming from and I appreciate his courage in speaking out in the public square.

Buchanan was fired by MSNBC for writing a book that spoke eloquently to those resentments and those concerns.  You can disagree with his conclusions and you can disagree with his assumptions, but you certainly can’t disagree with his right to say them.

Unless, of course, you are running MSNBC.

Pat Buchanan won’t be hurt by this action. He will write more books, and his deep knowledge of politics will be put on display, probably by another cable network.  In this era of ubiquitous communications, Buchanan’s voice will not be silenced.

But think how pathetic the Left must be that they must ban Pat Buchanan from their leading network.  They can’t beat him so they must banish him.     How sad for them.  How sad for us.