November 6, 2000


The high point of this campaign season came, for me, on the Friday before Election Day, when the following ad was released:

[PHOTO: US Marine barracks in Lebanon, blasted to bits.]

Announcer: "Beirut: Marines Massacred."

[PHOTO: US soldiers paraded and killed in Somalia.]

"Somalia: Army Rangers Ambushed."

[PHOTO: The gaping hole in the USS Cole.]

"Yemen: Sailors dead in terrorist attack."

[VIDEO: Pat Buchanan]:

"Friends, we have to stand up to terrorism. These bloody wars are none of America's business. It's time to bring our troops home to the United States. George Bush won't. Al Gore won't. I will. Let's build a third party that puts America first."

Announcer: "Vote Buchanan for President, let's put America first."


The Los Angeles Times reports that Buchanan's campaign – stuck at less than 1% in the polls – went on a 200-media-market "Hail Mary" buying spree in more than 25 states" with this ad. By Sunday morning, Tim Russert was citing the latest NBC poll on Meet the Press that had Pat up to 2%, with Nader at 4%. With only a few days to go before the election, Buchanan broke a major campaign taboo – "Never bring up foreign policy unless asked" – and the effect was dramatic, and immediate. Oh, but nobody cares about foreign policy, they just care about those red-meat emotional issues – right? Wrong, wrong, wrong – as this uptick would indicate. With Bush pulling ahead of Gore – thus encouraging some Republicans to vote their conscience – the sudden infusion of a fighting noninterventionist message into the pre-election mix may just do the trick. Taking into account the fact that Pat has always polled under the radar – he is so politically incorrect that his support is only half-visible to pollsters – this last minute surge could result in the Reform Party reaching the magic 5% – enough to qualify the Reformers for matching funds and a viable platform for 2004.


For the first time since the Vietnam war, a presidential candidate has made opposition to our foreign policy of global intervention the centerpiece of his campaign. The Buchanan Reform movement was launched when Pat released A Republic, Not an Empire, his campaign book: a 400-page tome on foreign policy that boldly challenged the shibboleths of internationalism and became a bestseller. Buchanan was the only – repeat: only – major candidate to explicitly oppose the Kosovo war. Not only that, but he made his outrage at this criminal act an ongoing theme of his presidential bid: I hope each and every one of my Serbian-American friends will take that to heart, and remember it well as they enter the voting booth. If Buchanan polls enough votes to make the Reformers viable in 2004, Serbian-Americans will be able to count on a continuing voice, a partisan champion to speak up on their behalf – an absolutely essential factor if US policy in the region is to be changed for the better.


The same is true for Arab-American voters, who are forced to stand by and watch as the Israeli lobby captures both major presidential candidates, and turns the presidential debate into a "I'm more pro-Israeli than you" contest, a veritable theater of the absurd. Buchanan has paid his dues on this issue, and deserves the vote of each and every Arab-American who is sick and tired of the blatant bias of American policymakers. Again, alone among the candidates, Buchanan has devoted precious airtime to denouncing our failed (and dangerous) Middle East policy. His fight is your fight – and that is true for all Americans, no matter what their hyphenated cultural allegiances. Joe Blow, the Average American, couldn't have said it better: "These bloody wars are none of America's business."


Dubya admits to driving under the influence – he says he doesn't remember how many beers he chugga-lugged that long ago night – but he, along with Gore, is just as certainly running under the influence of the transnational corporate interests who contributed millions of dollars to both parties. And while everyone is avidly discussing the juicy details of the latest mini-scandal, the news that, for the first time, the US government is proposing the insertion of UN "peacekeepers" in Israel's occupied territories is buried in the back pages. On Wednesday, we will wake up and Bill Clinton will still be the President of the United States: which is why, before the end of his term in January, US troops may already be on their way to the most volatile hotspot of them all.


Humor was not lacking this campaign season: there were guffaws aplenty during the debates, and Ralph Nader certainly got in more than a few zingers. The high (or is that low) point was when the little guy with the jug ears went on Larry King and endorsed Dubya. Why doesn't CNN make Perot pay for for all that airtime? He can certainly afford it. At any rate, Dubya seems to have survived the ordeal, but certainly Perot's hypocrisy has disillusioned even his most unthinking loyalists – not including those on the payroll, of course. This endorsement supposedly confers on Bush the aura of moral purity affected by Perot, but the latter's sanctimonious pose is a mask that can't cover up the truth about his conniving self: While smearing Pat as a "hater," Perot lied and denied any involvement in the Reform Party wrecking crew's machinations – all the while touting himself as an exemplar of honesty and integrity. How, then, does the little creep explain why he signed a legal affidavit alleging to the Federal Election Commission that Hagelin was the authentic Reform Party candidate and the rightful recipient of matching funds? In D Magazine, Tom Pauken tells the real story of why Perot, after publicly inviting Buchanan into the Reform Party, turned on Pat like a snake in the grass, and became the main backer of the Verney-Mangia-Fulani wrecking crew. Pauken's revelations only confirm what I have been saying in this column for more than a year: the Reform Party nominee's foreign policy-centered campaign has been the main reason for the rage of the elites, in politics and the media, directed without letup at Buchanan.


Speaking of Perot and his Perotistas: the other day I got a phone call from the John Hagelin for President campaign: you member, the Transcendental Meditation dingbat who thinks he can fly through the air? This nutball was used by the Perot people as a kind of battering ram to wreck the Reform party they no longer controlled – and delay Buchanan's matching funds by a crucial three weeks. The telephone solicitor proudly announced that he had a message from Russell Verney and Jim Mangia directly to me (oh, gosh, this is truly orgasmic!) urging me to vote for Hagelin on Election Day. Verney was identified as a "chairman" of the Reform Party.

Say, I said, isn't Hagelin the Levitating Candidate who says the teachings of the Maharishi are the solution to all our problems?

"Well, uh, uh," stammered the poor schmuck on the other end, who is so dumb that even in this economy it's the best job he can get, "I didn't know that."

And, say, it's been a long time since Russell Verney was any kind of official in the Reform Party – didn't the Reform Party finally have to get a court order to make you guys cease and desist from representing Hagelin as the Reform Party presidential candidate long after he had been soundly beaten?

"Gee, I'll have to get my supervisor," he said, in a panic, "because I don't know the answers to these questions."

Oh, don't even bother. By the way, how did you get my phone number?


I voted in the Reform Party primary, and, in a typically wacky Perotista procedure. I believe you were required to put your phone number on your ballot. How did the Flying Carpeteers get this information? Inquiring minds want to know. I have a permanent solution to the Flying Carpeteer problem in the Reform Party, and it is this: make up a rule specifically excluding Verney, Mangia, and the Hagelinistas from the party. The Democrats passed such a rule against professional crackpot Lyndon LaRouche and his followers, and it has been upheld by every court – how are the Yogic Flyers of the Maharishi any less nutballish than good old Lyndon, who, unlike Hagelin, at least obliquely seems to acknowledge his own megalomania?


While we're doing the third party circuit, what about the Libertarian Party? After nearly thirty years of running candidates for the office of President, and seeming to get (mostly) fewer votes each successive election, the LP has set itself a new goal: "It would be a great coup,'' said the LP's candidate Harry Browne in a puff-piece that somehow got printed in the San Jose Mercury News, "if I end up ahead of Buchanan.'' Is this the culmination of all those years of work, of slow, steady party-building, endless conventions, ceaseless fundraising appeals, and millions spent – to somehow prevent itself from falling into the second echelon of third parties? Is this the reward at the end of the journey, to wind up somewhere on the side of the road along with Howard Phillips and the Constitution Party, and the various left-wing splinter groups? In the 1970s the LP used to proudly advertise itself as America's Third Party: but, these days, it is more like fourth, fifth, or even sixth, and that is a bitter pill for the LP leaders to swallow.


The Mercury News reporter cites some obscure political science professor that nobody ever heard of who tastelessly remarks that Buchanan represents the "let me regulate you in the name of Christ" group: Browne is cited on his signature issue of drug legalization, the only issue the counter-cultural Libertarians really feel passionate about. Browne is also depicted as little short of a saint for not taking $1 million in federal matching funds: "It would be hypocritical of me to call for smaller government and then go reaching into the government's pocket,'' Browne said. But this doesn't stop him from reaching into the pockets of his naïve contributors, according to David Kopel, of the Independence Institute, who writes in National Review Online:

"What about Libertarian Harry Browne? The Libertarian party platform is wonderful, and I agree with about 95 percent of it. But there are two major problems with voting for Harry Browne this year. First, it is obvious that Browne will capture the usual dismal 7/10th of 1 percent that Libertarian presidential candidates usually get.

"Second, as detailed in Liberty magazine, Browne has turned the national Libertarian party into a feeding trough for his consultants, and he has ripped off Libertarian party donors with direct-mail advertisements making patently absurd promises of imminent electoral success. The LP needs to get rid of Harry Browne; to vote for him is only to encourage Browne's crowd to maintain their chokehold on the national party."

Text-only printable version of this article

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“Behind the Headlines” appears Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, with special editions as events warrant.


Past Columns

Buchanan's "Hail Mary" Pass May Work

Doubletalkin' Dubya: Bush Backtracks on Kosovo

The Nader Moment

The Smearing of Ralph Nader

Nader Sells Out

America's Fifth Column

Bush, the Balkans, and the Bipartisan "Division of Labor"

Hilary, the War Goddess

Vidal's Valediction: The Golden Age

Norman's Narcissim: Podhoretz in Love

The Middle East: War Without End

Classic Raimondo: Isolationism for Beginners

Notes on the Serbian Revolution and Other Matters

Revolt of the Little Guys

The Clinton-
Gore-Milosevic Connection

Szamuely's Folly: Sympathy for the Devil

Slobo's Gambit: Will It Work?

Adventures in Cyber-Politics, Revisted

Curtains for Milosevic

Dubya's Kosovo Deception

The Return of Pat Buchanan


The Vindication of Wen Ho Lee

Against the EU: Danes Resist Assimilation

UN Millennium Summit: Globalist Dream is Your Worst Nightmare

Iraq and the US – Our Fantasy Island Foreign Policy

Classic Raimondo: Allied Vultures Pick at Iraq's Bones

Colombia – The Deja Vu War

Passage to Cartagena: An Inauspicious Visit

Invasion of the Party-Snatchers

Blowback: Read This Book!

Bush on Kosovo – Turning on a Dime

The Kosovo Fraud: Will They Ever Admit It?

The Outing of Ralph Nader, and Other Atrocities

Why Kosovo? Follow the Money!

Additional Justin Raimondo Archives

Justin Raimondo is the editorial director of He is also the author of Reclaiming the American Right: The Lost Legacy of the Conservative Movement (with an Introduction by Patrick J. Buchanan), (1993), and Into the Bosnian Quagmire: The Case Against U.S. Intervention in the Balkans (1996). He is an Adjunct Scholar with the Ludwig von Mises Institute, in Auburn, Alabama, a Senior Fellow at the Center for Libertarian Studies, and writes frequently for Chronicles: A Magazine of American Culture. He is the author of An Enemy of the State: The Life of Murray N. Rothbard (forthcoming from Prometheus Books).

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The problem with the LP goes way beyond the specific personalities involved, and the fundraising scandals that have plagued the current party regime. After this election, the Libertarians will have run in seven presidential races, never getting even as much as 1%. Talk about lost causes! To any reasonable person – and Libertarians, many of them worshippers in the Church of Rand, are supposed to be big advocates of Reason – it would seem as if a major reevaluation of strategy and tactics is in order. Some major questions need to be asked, and answered, by longtime Libertarian Party members and contributors, such as: What is the purpose of the LP? Is it to run futile electoral campaigns unto eternity? Is it to provide full employment for the candidate and his friends? Is it an educational organization, an electoral machine best suited to running local candidates – or both? I have not been a Libertarian Party member since 1983, but I spent a good deal of time in the organization, from roughly 1971 or 72, until the 1983 split that effectively destroyed the LP as an effective political organization. I have never stopped considering myself a small-'l' libertarian, and I fully realize that many good activists remain in the LP simply because they can see no alternative. Perhaps the complete failure of the current LP leadership to fulfill is own pompous promises will wake up enough of the heretofore slumbering party faithful to the realization that it's time to try something completely different. More on that in future columns, but for now let's get back to the election:


To expend so many words on the election without trying to call it is an act of such obvious cowardice that I won't dare try to get away with it. I'll go on the record in the hope of become a professional Oracle, rather than just another Internet columnist:

Bush by five points, but the Democrats take the House and split the Senate down the middle, 50-50. The Nader vote will exceed five percent, magnified by all the Democratic attention lavished on the Green alternative as well as a record low turnout. The Nader factor, as I pointed out in a column last week, will be the key to the Democratic gains in the House and Senate: once they're in those voting booths, the independents who show up just to cast their votes for Nader will wind up voting straight Democrat all on down the rest of the line. Furthermore, this is the kind of motivated voter sure to show up at the polls on Election Day bright and early: if there are enough of them, they will tip the Congress sharply to the left even as the Presidency shifts slightly right of center. I pointed out in a previous column that the Republican Leadership Council, a liberal Republican organization with lots of money to throw around, even went so far as to buy television ads featuring Nader attacking Gore. Chances are the RLC won't mourn all those conservative Republicans in congress defeated by the Nader influx – for this ensures that the incoming Bush administration will have a built-in rationale for governing from the left side of the Republican spectrum. The GOP nominee and, I believe, the winner of this election, has campaigned on his ability to reach out to Democrats, and the newly denatured and "diversified" Republican party may go through a few more perplexing permutations before it is thoroughly Dubya-ized.


While I have my own criticisms of the Buchanan campaign, Pat has enough critics out there and I have no desire to further swell their ranks. Every campaign has its professional carpers and other side-liners, who pontificate from the comfort of their couches, and never dirty their hands by actually getting into the fray. It's an easy job. Whatever shortcomings the campaign may have had were exacerbated by the ferocity of the Reform party battle, which lost the campaign a crucial three weeks before they received full matching funds: and then there was the state of Pat's health. The Buchanan campaign may have underestimated the former, but the latter could not have been predicted. Pat gave it his best shot, and, in the process, sacrificed his health: this is the true meaning of character, and not whether a candidate has revealed all his drunk driving convictions to the bottom-feeders of the press. Pat deserves our admiration, as well as our votes: patriots of every stripe, whether conservative, or libertarian, are in his debt.

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