Pat Buchanan was the third speaker in this year’s KLRU Distinguished Speakers Series, KLRU being our local Public TV station. I took copious notes and thought I’d share some of what he had to say with you all.
He’s currently promoting his book, Where the Right Went Wrong: How Neoconservatives Subverted the Reagan Revolution and Hijacked the Bush Presidency. Many of you may be familiar with his writings opposing the invasion of Iraq, since I’ve seen a number of links to his columns in The American Conservative Magazine over at Kos.
There’s more to my notes than I can fit into a reasonable-sized diary, so I’ll just try to pick out the things that I think might be of interest to Democrats/progressives/fightin’ liberals. (Everything paraphrased in my own words – I’m not a journalist, so I’m not sure I can take good enough notes for exact quotes.)
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He said that the Republican’s solid bloc is gone, but that the Democrats have a very strong base – all of the Northeast, the “left coast,” and two of the three big Midwest states. He said the Democrats can win the presidency in 2008 – but for sure won’t if they nominate H. Clinton. On the Republican side, he thinks Giuliani doesn’t have a chance – that they’ll kill him on the abortion and gay marriage issues if he tries. McCain, maybe, but probably not conservative enough on those issues. Frist, he thinks is possible, maybe Romney. He stated flatly that Jeb Bush will not run. He said that “cultural and moral issues” will be paramount in the Republican primaries.
He returned several times to his ideas on states’ rights: That issues such as abortion, homosexual marriage (I think that was his term), prayer in schools, etc. should be decided state-by-state. He thinks that this approach will actually strengthen the unity of the US – letting Alabama and Massachusetts go their separate ways on issues like these will let everyone calm down a little. On the other hand, he said that Roe v. Wade created the “marching troops of conservatism” and is the source of much of the right-wing’s success.
(See What’s the Matter with Kansas for a liberal who agrees with this assessment, at least on how the right used abortion to mobilize passionate activists for their side.)
Another issue he spent a lot of time on was what he sees as the erosion of the American Dream. That “if you take out the top 20%, wages have been stagnant for 30 years.” That whereas not too long ago, someone without a college degree could still have a good job in manufacturing, now we’re sending all of manufacturing overseas and the working class is left with no opportunities except to work at places like Wal-Mart for low wages, no health insurance, etc. “I used to be a die-hard free-trader” but no more, after traveling around the country seeing what outsourcing and illegal immigration (one of his hobby horses) are doing to the working class. He predicted that several Republicans will defect to vote with the Democrats to defeat CAFTA.
His views on Iraq are well known – see No end to War for a recap of his views. He spoke of his admiration for Howard Dean for speaking out against the war when the war was popular. He excoriated Kerry and H. Clinton for “voting for the war.” At least Bush and Cheney actually believed that the war was the right thing to do, he said. Did Clinton? Did Kerry? If they didn’t, why did they vote for it?
Couple of interesting Q&A’s:
Q: Wolfowitz to the World Bank?
A: He’s being moved “up and out.” He’s doesn’t want to be held accountable for his mistakes on Iraq, and has been told he has no chance for Sec Def if Rumsfeld goes. But Bush “takes care of his wounded.”
Q: Are you Deep Throat? If not, do you know who is?
A. No. Yes.
Q: Does Bush know or care that the world is running out of oil?
A: Probably knows, but “not cognizant of how grave the situation is.” However, the threat to the oil supply is why there will probably not be an invasion of Iran.
Q: How does a moderate get involved in politics and make a difference?
A: (Pause . . . “this is a very interesting question . . . “) I’d say, find a candidate you believe in passionately and do everything you can to get him elected. Stuff envelopes, drive all over town, all of that. And then, if you’re young, get a real job. Because if you don’t have a real career to go back to – if you end up an aide or an assistant in Washington and your guy loses – then you’ll just go down the street and get a job with someone you don’t believe in.
Well, sorry it turned out so long in spite of my best efforts. I left out a lot, believe it or not. There’s a long list of things that Pat Buchanan and I will never agree on, but I must say, he made me long for the days when I could disagree with a conservative and just . . . disagree. Instead of being filled with panic and outrage, as I am all too often these past few years.
Discuss among yourselves . . . .