Tuesday, November 30, 2004

You Can Have Him

Glenn Manishin, at Fear and Loathing, disputes my taxonomy of Pat Buchanan:
No Oil for Pacifists. . . says that liberals are "unable to understand" conservatives. Liberals "view Pat Buchanan as 'pillar' of the right rather than a pro-union, almost leftist, nativist," [Carl] opines.

This is just hogwash. . . . Pat Buchanan -- he of the "culture war" in America -- is plainly even more conservative than most conservatives on the "moral values" questions that have dominated post-election debate in the U.S. [I]n 2000 Buchanan attacked George W. Bush, in a Blue Book his campaign published, arguing that Dubya was a closet liberal on such issues as abortion, muiltilateralism, and the like. [And Buchanan's new book] is enough to show that he's way to the right of the folks in the White House today.
Manishin also argues with my assessment of liberals; my response is here.

Manishin's breathing fumes. Long ago, when working for Nixon, Buchanan was conservative. No more.
  1. Start with the fact that he once quit the Republican party; Buchanan's departure "denies the Democrats and other leftists the spurious charge that the Republican party is the party of Pat Buchanan."

  2. Since then, Conservatives have shunned Pat.

  3. That's because, as widely recognized, he transformed:
    Now, Pat Buchanan is thought of by conservatives as a former conservative. . . After running a Quixotic campaign against George H.W. Bush in the Republican Primary of 1992, he was never the same. The conservative became a populist.
  4. As a result, he gained support among the left: "Over the last few years I have been gaining much respect for one Patrick J. Buchanan."

  5. This transformation is reflected in Buchanan's positions on controversial issues:
    • On trade, "Buchanan has now adopted a position on free trade that is identical to ultra liberal Democrats like Richard Gephardt and David Bonior."

    • And industrial policy: "Unfortunately, when one subtracts the racism, the left sounds a lot like him. Like Buchanan, the left, for the most part, defends a national industrial policy program of the sort that confronts the third wave economy with second wave demands."

    • He even became pro-union:
      Buchanan endorsed the class-collaborationist campaign by the Teamsters officialdom to maintain restrictions on trucking from Mexico. . . Buchanan repeated the union officials' protectionist arguments. He evoked the specter of unsafe Mexican drivers and added, "Under NAFTA they can all come in and take the jobs of American truckers. And an American truck driver can't work at a buck an hour the way they have to work in Mexico."
    • Suddenly, he's bashing capitalism, arguing for the minimum wage and justice for the little guy:
      My campaign is committed to a living wage for every family. What does that mean? It's not an outrageous concept.

      And this campaign also believes that the great goal of social justice is not being served in America today by this economy and the way it is functioning. We all know the successes of the stock market. Many in this room have probably benefited from it. But how many of you have been down there and taken a look at the people who are left out and left behind? I can't tell you how many textile mills or steel mills I've visited where men who were working have lost their jobs and now work as bartenders while their wives have to go out and find work just to maintain the family standard of living.
    • Buchanan now talks as if he supports left-wing multi-cultural theory:
      [T]he filmed orgies among US military police outside the cells of Iraqi prisoners, the S&M humiliation of Muslim men, and the sexual torment of Muslim women raise a question. Exactly what are the “values” the West has to teach the Islamic world?
    • And though he reluctantly endorsed Bush over Kerry, his anti war rhetoric could have been written by Michael Moore:
      We charge that a cabal of polemicists and public officials seek to ensnare our country in a series of wars that are not in America’s interests. We charge them with colluding with Israel to ignite those wars and destroy the Oslo Accords. We charge them with deliberately damaging U.S. relations with every state in the Arab world that defies Israel or supports the Palestinian people’s right to a homeland of their own. We charge that they have alienated friends and allies all over the Islamic and Western world through their arrogance, hubris, and bellicosity. Not in our lifetimes has America been so isolated from old friends.
    • Buchanan still champions withdrawal from Iraq.

    • And his anti-war platform appeals mainly to the left: "If we're going to be resisting the forces of American empire, I'm one liberal who'd be happy to fight alongside Pat Buchanan."

  6. In sum, as Jonah Goldberg wrote, those who wish to call him conservative,
    need to explain why Pat Buchanan's public policies sound so liberal.

    For example, . . . Buchanan now favors caps on executive salaries, expansion of Medicare benefits, and high trade barriers. He fumes about the excesses of Wall Street and the free market. He writes in The Great Betrayal: "Better the occasional sins of a government acting out of the spirit of charity than the constant omissions of a government frozen in the ice of its own indifference." That could easily come from It Takes A Village. Indeed, Buchanan's policies on immigration and culture and his support affirmative-action quotas for non-Jewish whites amount to what my colleague Ramesh Ponnuru calls "identity politics for white people." As for the lefty under- and over-tones of his foreign policy, David Frum has dealt with that in detail too.
Whatever his history, Pat Buchanan's "A Conservative No More." How do I know? Because I'm conservative. And he's way left of me--I don't agree with Buchanan on any issue. QED.


Andrew Sullivan agrees: "Buchanan cannot, I think, be described as a conservative. He's an economic leftist with social fascist tendencies."


Glenn said...

I can't possible compete on word count here. But one pundit (guess who? -- not Manishin) said that "changing one's mind is not flip-flopping." So maybe Pat's just matured from his Nixon years. If conservatism is defending a philosophy that launched Watergate and still defends the Vietnam War, count both Buchanan and me out.

Aakash said...

Like Glenn, I can't compete in that regard (though I could at others times - and I have)... I was just thinking earlier today about the issue of left-right alliances. There have been several issues on which liberals and conservatives have concurred over the past few years, and have even worked together on. Many of Pat's aforementioned positions have been shared by some of the major figures in the American conservative movement - including Russell Kirk, Phyllis Schlafly, Jesse Helms, Alan Keyes, Howard Phillips, and many, many others. Go read the Texas Republican Party platform - which is possibly the most conservative of all the state GOP platforms, and see for yourself... It's as if it were written by the Buchanan Brigades!

Unfortunately, I am unable to get into this more at this time, but it would be a good topic, for blogging, in the future.