March 4, 1996
Picture caption- "CHRISTIAN SOLDIER. Trained by Jesuits, molded on 'Crossfire,' Buchanan revels in certitude."pg 21
"Buchanan also has the faith of the Crusader who thinks he's about to reach Jerusalem. Whatever happens, he says, he will, remain true to his image of himself:
a bare-knuckled, nearsighted kid nicknamed Patty Joe, trained in combat by the Jesuits and his own father, now grown into a fearsome foe of the powers that be."
"Buchanan's bully-boy image is rooted in his upbringing in a brawling, clannish, right-wing Roman Catholic family that lived near the Maryland-D.C. Iine. But it is also carefully cultivated. While he brags in his autobiography of sucker-punching rivals ......."
Pictures of Wallace, McCarthy, and Coughlin, and caption-
"Tapping anger: The rise of Huey Long [far left] taught Southern populist pols like George Wallace [above] how to take on elites and the 'big boys.' Buchanan also belongs to a Catholic tradition: Charles Coughlin [right] attacked big business, and Joe McCarthy [left] bullied suspected communists, telling Americans, 'I'm one of you.' "
The world he's selling is stark and certain, a safe place for ordinary American's worried about jobs and family. But Pat Buchanan's appeal is built on fear, and his raw campaign is troubling the party he hopes to lead.
BY HOWARD FINEMAN
HEAR THIS, ESTABLISHMENT: PAT Buchanan is right where he wants to be. It's the presidential suite of the best hotel in a city Sherman burned. Hours after winning New Hampshire, Buchanan had flown to South Carolina to begin campaigning for Saturday's pivotal, first-in-the-South primary. Running on the adrenaline of victory, he'd worked an adoring crowd in a Columbia ballroom.
"We're going to take back America!" he'd shouted. "The Dixie Express is ready to roll!"
Afterward, upstairs in his rooms, Buchanan savored the moment. Warm Piedmont sun streamed through the tall windows. The local papers trumpeted his Good News. Here he was in a city the Yankees sacked, where the state capitol proudly bears bullet holes from the War Between the States and the Stars and Bars fly from the flagpole. It's the hub of the state in which the modern Republican Party was born: where Strom Thurmond led the Dixiecrats, a White House aid named Harry Dent invented Nixon's Southern Strategy and Lee Atwater learned to play politics red, white and rough. .
Though he's a Washingtonian born and bred, Buchanan hopes to be crowned king of sunbelt Republicanism — to win by preaching to fears no one else has the courage to name, sounding fire bells for the loss of the America in which he was reared. His views can be extreme, his language incendiary. But America is listening, and not entirely in horror. For this street tough of politics locked in on the very things Americans dread most: the specter of corporate downsizing and the decline of the once traditional family.
And he won't back down. Let foreigners call him the American Zhirinovsky. He won't retreat from views his rivals label "extreme," including a ban on all abortions, a five-year moratorium on immigration, an end to participation in U.N. peacekeeping missions. He won't apologize for his over-the-line remarks. "It's not me," he told NEWSWEEK, as if that's all that need be said. Nor does he care much about endorsements. "I want to win it by myself," he said. "Then I'll go and say: 'I don't owe anybody anything'."
At the very moment Buchanan was saying this, the inner council of what used to be called "the Republican Revolution" was meeting in Washington. It was a session of the "Speaker's Advisory Group." On that morning, the acronym — SAG — was ironically appropriate, as was the place they met: a plush room in the Library of Congress, a 'beaux-arts' monument to the Gilded Age. ''Everybody tried to focus on plans for the legislative year," one source told NEWSWEEK. "But you know what they all were thinking about: how to deal with Buchanan."
It wont be easy. A struggle is underway for the soul of the Grand Old Party. The NEWSWEEK Poll shows Republicans evenly, agonizingly, divided: 38 percent think Buchanan has the "right answers to the country's problems." 39 percent do not, and 28 percent are unsure. Moderates, led by Colin Powell and New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, denounced Pugnacious Pat. Conservatives were in a quandary. Aside from his trade protectionism, they tend to agree with Buchanan on issues. But they think his raw campaigning could cost them control of Congress.
The GOP establishment's collective nightmare comes in three versions: Buchanan wins the nomination, loses but makes a spectacle of himself or leads his brigades out of the convention in San Diego. From the the editorial page of The Wall Street Journal to the smoke-filled radio studio of Rush Limbaugh, the concern is real. "People are panicked," said William Kristol, editor of Rupert Murdoch's conservative Weekly Standard. "If they're not," he adds, "it's only because they don't know what's going on."
The shape of the GOP race is now clear: Pat versus Stop Pat. Calling Buchanan's views "extreme," Bob Dole is running as the only man with the experience, national organization and financial wherewithal to block him. Dole's attack brought rebukes from conservative-movement leaders, including an erstwhile ally, Ralph Reed of the Christian Coalition. A quietly desperate Dole pressed on. "I'm the candidate," he said. "They're not."
It's an article of faith among foes of Buchanan that there is a "ceiling" on his support. "As soon as this becomes a two-way race, it's over," insists Charlie Black, manager of Phil Gramm's now defunct campaign. Maybe so, but it's not yet a two-way race and the field is weak. Lamar Alexander finished a strong third in New Hampshire. As the only Southern "moderate" in the race, he hoped to do well in South Carolina and elsewhere. He staked his all on a million-dollar ad buy, leaving his entourage to ride in old city buses. Steve Forbes has the cash to stay the course. His campaign gained new vigor with a victory last Saturday in Delaware, another embarrassing loss for Dole. Forbes was competitive in this week's Arizona contest.
Specific enemies: The ceiling theory also ignores the power of Buchanan's appeal. He offers certitude amidin de siecle uncertainty. He offers specific enemies. The list is long: Mexican immigrants, the United Nations, the World Trade Organization, Supreme Court Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer, Japanese Prime Minister Hashimoto, supply-side theorists, K Street lawyers and the CEOs of Fortune 500 companies. He selects his targets to fit the state he's campaigning in. In Arizona, where he was rising in the polls, he denounced Mexican illegals and championed a law to make English the official language. In the Bible-belt South, he stressed opposition to abortion, affirmative action and "corporate butchers" in the ranks of textile executives.
In South Carolina, Dole and Alexander hoped to derail Buchanan on the trade issue. Former governor Carroll Campbell, flying down to Columbia from his lobbying job in Washington to take control of the Dole campaign, charged last week that Buchanan's views on trade would cost export-oriented South Carolina at least 80,000 jobs. But Buchanan's "America First" theme nuns far deeper than trade. It's not trade protectionism — it's cultural protectionism. The decline he laments is not just a matter of wages, but of a middle-class way of life: a breadwinning father, a stay-at-home mother, obedient kids taught to honor God and country.
He's a shrewd campaigner who relishes the fight. "Richard Nixon would love this!" he exclaimed to his family on elertion night in New Hampshire. He apprenticed with Nixon, traveling with him as an aide-de camp and speechwriter during the Old Man's arduous return to power in the '60s. Buchanan was at Spiro Agnew's side during the tumultuous midterm elections of 1970, and with Nixon again in 1972.
From Nixon, Buchanan learned timing and tactics. He bet everything on defeating Gramm in a Louisiana caucus that the Texan had engineered as a setup. Instead, Buchanan won with the support of the Christian Right — and white supremacists whose sub rosa help he denounced, but only after the fact. His campaign is a tight-knit, fastmoving operation: his sister Bay Buchanan; his wife, Shelley, who began her career as a secretary to Nixon; media aide Greg Mueller; campaign manager Terry Jeffrey and Buchanan himself.
CULTURAL JIHADS: This is a candidate made for the bitter environment he helped create. Agnew's '70 campaign against "amnesty, abortion and acid" was a model for all cultural jihads to follow — and Buchanan wrote his share of Agnew's most vituperative speeches. As a cohost of CNN's Crossfire, Buchanan learned the savvy TV skills he now uses with such a vengeance. His rivals sound dull by comparison. The Dole crowd argued that the crowded "March Madness" primary schedule favors them. But it also favors a hot, camera-ready candidate with the ability to dominate the "free media."
So it all could come down to South Carolina. Alexander was finding good crowds there last week, and hopes to draw on suburbanites who think Buchanan's message is too harsh. Dole, as usual, is relying on endorsements. They include Campbell, Thurmond and the current governor, David Beasley, whose roots are deep in the Christian Right. But Buchanan seems to have the support of many Bible-belt shock troops, and has the tacit backing of fundamentalists at Bob Jones University in Greenville.
Buchanan also has the faith of the Crusader who thinks he's about to reach Jerusalem. Whatever happens, he says, he will, remain true to his image of himself: a bare-knuckled, nearsighted kid nicknamed Patty Joe, trained in combat by the Jesuits and his, own father, now grown into a fearsome foe of the powers that be. "The establishment's up there in Washington, staying up late, burning up the fax machines," he says with a grin. "I can reach out, pull the party together." Pause. "But we win first."
With MARK MILLER
PROFILE THE BELTWAY POPULIST
BY JONATHAN ALTER AND MICHAEL ISIKOFF
He claims to be an anti-Washington warrior for the common man, but Buchanan's life tells a very different story. A look inside his contradictions.
Picture caption - "Life on the Inside: The crusader at home in exclusive McLean, Va."
THE TAG LINE IN PAT BUCHANAN'S ads summarizes his appeal: "He says what he means and he means what he says." This is mostly true. Buchanan is about as subtle as an anvil and his blast-furnace style passes for honesty in today's politics. Yet for all his pugnacity, Buchanan is hardly the rugged, all-American character he claims to represent. While his politics are stark and uncomplicated, Buchanan's life story and public record [in the form of old columns] are full of the kinds of contradictions he would mercilessly skewer in anyone else. And Buchanan willfully misreads today's power structure: the "establishment" he castigates on the campaign trail no longer exists. The new Washington establishment is a media culture — the "Crossfire" culture that Buchanan himself helped build.
Even as he thumbs his nose at the capital and "Beltway Bob" Dole, Buchanan is the first major presidential candidate in history who calls Washington home. He has left the area only twice: first for a year at Columbia journalism school, then for four years in the early 1960s, when he took nasty FBI leaks about the private life of Dr. Martin Luther King and turned them into incendiary editorials for the St. Louis Globe-Democrat. Other than that, the candidate stumping in a cowboy hat and bolo tie is all Beltway. For a decade he's made millions from TV and $15,000-a-pop speeches. This man of the people's favorite restaurant is Washington's elitist Jockey Club, where he insists on a front table, favors Chardonnay and frequently orders the Grand Marnier souffle for dessert. He lives in a large house in tony McLean, Va., just up the road from Ted Kennedy and Colin Powell.
Buchanan's bully-boy image is rooted in his upbringing in a brawling, clannish, right-wing Roman Catholic family that lived near the Maryland-D.C. Iine. But it is also carefully cultivated. While he brags in his autobiography of sucker-punching rivals and being suspended from Georgetown University for a year for assaulting cops after he was stopped for speeding, Buchanan modestly fails to mention that he is widely regarded in Washington as a gracious and always-friendly guest on the cocktail-party circuit—a media insider. That way he gets to spread the "tough guy" outsider legend while simultaneously catching a break from reporters who know him personally to be a "good guy."
What's hypocrisy, and what's just human? Does it matter that the candidate who advocates a five-year moratorium on all legal immigration himself employs a South American housekeeper? Does anyone care that Buchanan denounces the symbolism of U.S. troops' serving under a United Nations flag, but embraces the symbolism of Southern state capitols flying the Confederate flag of his ancestors? Maybe not. But on economics, Buchanan's inconsistencies are more egregious:
While Buchanan has traded the Mercedes-Benz that embarrassed him during the 1992 campaign for a Cadillac, he still has plenty of foreign entanglements. His multimillion-dollar personal portfolio includes investments in a British bank, Argentine and French oil interests, and a Hong Kong utility with a stake in a Chinese power plant. He brands AT&T CEO Robert E. Allen an "executioner" for laying off 40,000 workers, but doesn't feel strongly enough about it to unload the tens of thousands of dollars in AT&T stock he still owns, or his shares in General Motors, which he has lambasted for moving jobs abroad.
Buchanan routinely ridicules Dole for his ties to agribusiness magnate Dwayne Andreas, but Buchanan is himself closely tied to billionaire South Carolina textile magnate Roger Milliken, who also seeks government favors. NEWSWEEK has learned that in 1994 Milliken secretly pumped $1.7 million into The American Cause, the protectionist group run by Buchanan, and an affiliated lobbying arm. Buchanan's anti-GATT ads in 1994 — which made no mention of Milliken — were "99 percent" financed by the anti-union and anti-free-trade industrialist, a Buchanan accountant acknowledged last week. And Milliken is now a key Buchanan campaign fund raiser.
Some of Buchanan's contradictions are personal. But because personal invective has never been off-limits to him, he can hardly expect it to be off-limits in the campaign. While claiming to be the best family values candidate, Buchanan and his wife, Shelley, have no children of their own, and say the decision not to adopt is a private matter. He would bar abortion even in cases of rape and incest, leaving mothers to put the children up for adoption — by someone else. More broadly, Buchanan has no experience as an adult with Little League games, PTA meetings or other rituals of the "average Americans" in whose name he runs, and he missed military life because of an arthritic knee. The everyday logistics of regular folks have been alien to him for years: Shelley chauffeurs him around town, answers his mail, makes dental appointments and has his prescriptions filled at the local pharmacy. The "real" Pat Buchanan turns out to be a twinkly policy wonk who quotes T. S. Eliot but essentially has no interest outside Washington.
BUCHANAN GREW UP COMFORTABLE — his father was a successful Washington accountant — but his family always felt politically excluded. Their right-wing reverence for Sen. Joseph McCarthy and Generalissimo Francisco Franco put them well outside the reigning bipartisan orthodoxy of the era. Later Buchanan nursed his resentments under Richard Nixon. All this has allowed him to argue that he is not part of the liberal Washington establishment, and he drives home the point with his usual puckish humor: "When I was 10 years old I delivered The Washington Post [boos from the audience]. Don't worry, they robbed me blind, and I'll never forget."
But The Washington Post [which owns NEWSWEEK ] and the cold-war establishment no longer govern Washington the way they once did. The tone of the town is now set by the cacophony of talking heads, most of them conservative. This new politicalmedia establishment favors contentiousness over consensus, ideology [especially when it's entertaining] over the interplay of ideas. Its members move easily between politics and the press. When Buchanan flashed his campaign's 800 number last year on "Crossfire," "there was no longer much difference between the talk show world and the political battlefield," writes Howard Kurtz in "Hot Air: All Talk, All the Time." The media, once inmates in the political structure, had taken over the asylum.
You have to go back to editor Horace Greeley's Democratic nomination in 1872 to find the last time a journalist without public office made a serious bid for the presidency. Because writers can't be judged by legislative records or performance in government, the clips — minimized by Buchanan as "golden oldies" — are essential in assessing them. This is especially so in Buchanan's case, because he makes a point of not backing off an inch from where he stands. His old columns criticizing trade sanctions as "terminal stupidity" are the only ones he will retract.
Although Buchanan has compared anti-Semitism to pornography, his columns on Jews and Nazis have raised the most concern. Some, like his attacks on the power of the Israeli lobby in Washington, were fair comment and prompted overreaction. But during the 1991 gulf war, which he opposed ["So what if Saddam grabs Kuwait?"], Buchanan singled out American Jews in terms so sharp that his old idol, William F. Buckley, wrote: "I find it impossible to defend Pat Buchanan against the charge that what he did and said amounted to anti-Semitism."
Last week on CBS Radio, Buchanan defended his columns that helped free wrongly accused Nazi war criminal John Demjanjuk as "the best journalism I ever did." The critics were "flyspecking," he said. But in his March 17, 1990, column on Demjanjuk, the mistakes were hardly trivial In arguing that diesel engine gas could not have killed the Jews at Treblinka, Buchanan ignored evidence of deadly Zyklon B gas at Treblinka [where more than 850,000 Jews died], accused survivors of "group fintasies of martyrdom and heroics" and essentially bought the line of those who minimize the Holocaust.
His old words on imigration may pose an even larger problem in the campaign. "The central objection to the present flood of illegals is that they are not English speaking white people from Western Europe, they are Spanish-speaking brown and black people from Mexico, Latin America and the Caribbean," he wrote in 1984, stressing that the issue is "not about economics." Later he urged that the U.S. annex English-speaking white Canadian provinces as a way to counter the flood tide of blacks and browns. Jews make up only about 2 percent of the population and vote mostly Democratic. But Third World immigrants account for large voting blocs in major states like Florida and Texas, and they are unlikely to be amused.
All of this puts Buchanan in a bit of a bind. He knows that his message of economic inuecurity would play well with minorities; it is their jobs that are being shipped overseas. But admitting error would fly in the face of his educational and religious training and his personal temperament. He doesn't even acknowledge that the America First movement of the '30s, which he echoes, was disastrously wrong about World War II. The title of his engaging autobiography, after all, is Right From the Beginning.
Attacking the Clintons and the 1960s generation in general, the columnist wrote in 1994: "They got exemptions from the rules that bound everyone else; the rules that say you pay your dues, you wait your turn, you clean up your mess, you pay for your mistakes." So far, Pat Buchanan hasn't done any of that.
With MARK HOSENBALL