November 10, 1999


Norman Podhoretz is the Energizer Bunny of the Hate Buchanan Brigade – he just keeps smearing and smearing and smearing, in the vain hope that something will stick. I exposed his shamelessly sloppy lies in this column, and Pat himself answered Poddy in a widely circulated letter, but The Pod keeps coming back for more.


In a letter to the Wall Street Journal [November 8, 1999], which the editors evocatively entitled "A Willful Blindness," Norm avers that Buchanan's response was "a fancy display of evasive polemical tactics" – this from a man who deliberately falsified a quote from an article by Buchanan to make it seem "anti-Semitic," and, when called on it, studiously evades the point! Whose "willful blindness" are we talking about here?


But Norm has to be read to be believed, and so here he is in the fullness of his malice:

"I have often denounced revisionist historians of the Cold War for being analogously 'soft on Stalin' – and so, I daresay, has Mr. Buchanan – even when they covered themselves by calling the Soviet leader a monster or a madman. What made the Cold War revisionists soft was their insistence on downplaying the number of Stalin's victims, and/or their accusing the U.S. of driving him to some of the crimes he committed. This is precisely what Mr. Buchanan does when he denies that Hitler had any designs on Britain or the United States. In the Buchananite interpretation, if we had not gone to war against Hitler, he would have been happy to leave us alone and also not to lay a finger on the Jewish communities of Western Europe."


Podhoretz writes in a hateful daze – a stream-of-consciousness polemical style in which ideas are thrown out (or is that thrown up) with cheerless abandon, and then it's on to the next epithet. His letter is obviously intended to be read the same unfocused way. Podhoretz does not even bother with proof, citations from Pat's book, A Republic, Not an Empire, nor any words Buchanan has either written or spoken – he simply makes things up out of whole cloth. We are not concerned, here, with the "Buchananite interpretation" of history, but the Podhoretzian interpretation of A Republic, Not an Empire – which bears not the slightest resemblance to the book as written. Far from saying that Hitler "would have been happy . . . not to lay a finger on the Jewish communities of Western Europe," Buchanan argues that the Nazis would have been powerless to carry out their pogroms in Western Europe. Since they would never have occupied France, Belgium, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands, but instead turned east, it stands to reason that the Jews of Western Europe would have been spared. Now, will somebody please tell me how or why this argument is "anti-Semitic"?


Podhoretz misses the whole point of a book that is, after all, about far more than the narrow question of whether or not we should have allowed ourselves to get dragged into World War II. Clearly, as a nationalist, Buchanan believes in the necessity of American power: no one mistakes him for a pacifist. The whole point of the single chapter Podhoretz & Co. are so upset about is that, quite apart from Hitler's intentions, whatever they might have been, the West would have had time to prepare a defense – that is, in the event Hitler and Stalin failed to destroy each other.


Podhoretz lies about everything. He makes up quotations, cutting a few sentences from one article and pasting it into another. He lies about Pat's book, without even bothering to cut and paste or to even quote so much as a single word. Not only that, but he also lies about the Cold War revisionists – and you'll notice that he doesn't name them. (Probably because he hasn't read them.) They were historians such as William Appleman Williams, D. F. Fleming, and Gabriel Kolko – who never "downplayed the number of Stalin's victims. These authors never even concerned themselves with this question, but instead sought to prove that the US and not the Soviet Union had started the Cold War and kept it going. Far from being admirers of Stalin, these mostly leftist-oriented scholars painted a portrait of Stalin as a Russian nationalist who had betrayed the old Communist principle of "proletarian internationalism" and sought to build "socialism in one country." This, they averred, explained his timorous foreign policy, which invited US aggression. Whatever one may think of this thesis on its merits is one thing, but this is a far cry indeed from "downplaying" Stalin's crimes. Podhoretz, however, is incapable of any objective analysis: everything comes out as a smear, an epithet, a paroxysm of pure malice.


Aside from what this says about poor old Poddy psychologically, such methods have a clear ideological purpose: for Podhoretz, and his neoconservative comrades (some of whom we'll get to in a minute), any form of revisionism is bad, since, by definition, it represents a challenge to the official government-approved version of events. Whether it is the Cold War, World War II, or even the comic-opera tragedy of World War I: to oppose any of these orgiastic slaughters constitutes the sin of "revisionism." How dare anyone presume to revise the record as set down by the court historians. Why, they must be anti-Semites!


In attempting to refute Buchanan's thesis that Hitler was intent on moving east, and never wanted war with England and France, Podhoretz makes a complete fool of himself – one almost feels sorry for him. Buchanan's thesis, he writes, "demonstrates a willful blindness to the ferocity of Hitler's determination to achieve a 'final solution' of 'the Jewish problem.'" How? Again, let Poddy speak for himself:

"Does Mr. Buchanan really not know that Hitler gave so high a priority to this objective that he removed much needed military transport from combat zones in 1944 and diverted it to Hungary for the sole purpose of ensuring that the Jews who were still there would wind up in the ovens of Auschwitz?"


Here Podhoretz refutes himself, and makes the case for Buchanan. To begin with, Podhoretz is talking about the war's end, or at least its final stages, whereas Buchanan's scenario of a war averted takes place in 1939, before the Holocaust really went into high gear. We can never know what might have happened if the West had not guaranteed the territorial integrity of Poland, but surely the outcome, whatever it might have been, could not have been worse than what actually happened – the towering horror of the Holocaust. Secondly, if we are to take Hitler's antipathy to the Jews as overriding every other consideration in formulating Germany's military strategy, then surely this argues for Buchanan's thesis that Hitler really intended to strike out at the Soviet Union, and only turned westward when he had no choice. For if we are talking about sheer numbers, then surely the highest concentrations of Jews were in the ghettoes of Eastern Europe and Russia, not to mention the remnants of the ancient Jewish community in the Caucasus and the Middle East. It is Podhoretz, not Buchanan, who is willfully blind – even to the implications of his own statements.


Unintentional humor is the best kind, and Poddy provides plenty of it in this latest installment of his unending "Hate Pat, Hate the Buchananites" serial: he admits that perhaps he was wrong about the exact author of Reagan's remarks at Bitburg, but insists that Buchanan "gave Reagan the idea" for the speech in which he praised the bravery of German soldiers and portrayed them as victims of Nazism. "Though he has by now repudiated Mr. Reagan's ideas on almost every other issue," writes Poddy in a huff, "he singles out this one – this one – to defend." Why Podhoretz continues to raise this phony issue is beyond imagining. In his original screed, he wrote that Pat "put the words in [Reagan's] mouth," but this is absurd: if Reagan spoke and perhaps even ad libbed the words, then why doesn't this make him an anti-Semite? That Podhoretz seems completely unaware of the implications of his own argument is proof positive that the man has really lost it.


That poor old Norm is getting senile – could it be Alzheimer's? – seems confirmed by the fact that he (again) brings up the matter of the list, enumerated by Buchanan, of "kids" who will die in a war against Iraq, all with names like O'Reilly and Leroy Brown; as Poddy puts it,

"Not a breath does he emit to challenge my carefully documented account of the anti-Semitic garbage he threw at American Jews in the debates over the Gulf War: that they were conspiring with the Israeli Defense Ministry to send non-Jewish American kids to die in a war in which they themselves were too cowardly to fight and in which the United States had no national interest."


Carefully documented? Poor Poddy, he's really at the end of his tether. Buchanan has already set the record straight in his own response, and the "cut and paste" hoax Podhoretz tried to pull off has also been thoroughly exposed in this column. The quote about ethnic types who will not fight and die in a war for the Emir of Kuwait was from an article in the London Economist, and was meant to convey the absence of a single British name. Pat was telling the Brits – your boys won't be dying out there, it will be Americans who will pay the price, so why don't you stop beating the war drums? The Jews did not even enter into his argument. What is "carefully documented" by this letter is not Pat's anti-Semitism, but Poddy's complete moral and mental degeneration. If he has any friends left – and this is the author of a memoir entitled Ex-Friends – they ought to take him firmly in hand before he embarrasses himself any further.


The growth of the Pat Smear as a literary genre continues apace, but while the quantity has increased the quality seems to have sadly declined. From the scholarly heights (relatively speaking) of contending that Pat is stealing his ideas from Father Coughlin, an obscure radio commentator of the 1930s, we are descending rather giddily to the depths of an article in the Nation whose author is shocked, shocked that Buchanan qualifies for federal matching funds, and that some campaign expenditures were "redundant." Wow! What a scoop! In Buchanan Inc.: How Pat and Bay Built an Empire on Our Money," [November 22, 1999] author Monte Paulsen comes out with some real whoppers, such as:

" A bias toward extremism is inherent in the Buchanans' 'join the fight' style of direct-mail solicitation. Donors don't respond to letters that cry, 'All is well.' Rather, they whip out their checkbooks in response to emergencies. So in order to keep the money rolling in, the Buchanans reduce every complex issue to a black-and-white crisis."


Huh? Are liberals, then, exempt from the inflexible rules of direct mail marketing, which, according to Paulsen, give rise to the language of "extremism"? Why aren't they afflicted with this same "inherent bias"? In the same vein is "Pat's Tattered Army," by Jason Vest, in the Village Voice, the theme of which is the outlandish idea that this is just a financial scheme by Pat, a "permanent campaign" in which 'riding to the sound of the guns" really means laughing all the way to the bank. As if someone who gave up a career as a well-paid television commentator and columnist for the uncertain future of a political organizer and movement-builder could possibly be in it for the money! Someone should tell those yuppies down in the Village that saints and martyrs are not the exclusive property of the Left. Pat is our Norman Thomas, our Big Bill Haywood, the Sojourner Truth of the "isolationist" Right. The gist of these two pieces is: how dare Buchanan even try to organize a political movement? Surely this must be a hate crime!


Last, but not least, we come to David Horowitz, the ex-Commie turned conservative who was recently smeared himself by an article in Time magazine that accused him of being a racist. With Horowitz we come to a completely new, and indeed probably unique, sub-genre of the Pat Smear – the "he's not a racist but . . ." school of invective. Now, in other hands, this could be very effective: not a tirade, but a "more in sorrow than in anger" scolding, all the more convincing for its obvious lack of malice. But Horowitz is not up to it: malice pours out of him like juice out of a squeezed lemon. Instead, he utilizes an awkward device, the Author's Introduction in Italics, as a kind of disclaimer:

" NOTE: This column appears in Salon magazine today under the heading 'Good Riddance to Buchanan: Now he can cavort with his fellow racists on the left.' I do not call Pat Buchanan a 'racist' in this article, nor do I think he is one. The headline and a 'teaser' using the word 'racist' were supplied by an editor at Salon without my knowledge or approval."


Ever since 1992, when Pat first took up the cause of America First, Horowitz has been smearing him as a bigot: at a National Review conference in the summer of 1993, which I attended, Horowitz denounced "Pat Buchanan and the path of intolerance." Just what did he mean – intolerance of what or whom? Episcopalians? Armenians? Irish Catholics? Horowitz did not elaborate. Now, in the interim, Horowitz himself has been moving rapidly rightward, particularly on the race question, and has recently authored a book with the provocative title of Hating Whitey. One particular screed by Horowitz reminded Time columnist Jack E. White that "bigotry is alive and well." ["A Real, Live Bigot," August 30, 1999] "So many racists," quipped White, "so little time!" Stung by this accusation, Horowitz went ballistic and threatened to sue Time for slander, then backed off his bluff, but kept ranting about the incident for weeks on end. Of course the White column was a hit piece, as unfair and twisted as any attack on Pat Buchanan, and so, newly sensitized to the issue of smear-mongering, Horowitz sought to separate himself from his leftist friends at Salon – while still endorsing the rantings of Norman Podhoretz to the extent of running the original piece on his website, along with several others, some staff-written, but all centered around a central theme: Buchanan's alleged anti-Jewish bigotry.


What is even more bizarre is that Horowitz's protestations that he isn't out to smear Buchanan as a racist would be far more convincing if his article didn't start out like this, and I quote:

"Like many other Republicans, I was not sorry to see Pat Buchanan leave the Republican fold and go for the Reform Party gold. For years, Buchanan has pushed agendas – tribalist, protectionist, isolationist – that one associates with the old America First movement (whose slogan he has actually revived) America Firsters felt that the Axis powers were not really our enemy (a thesis Buchanan has recently rehashed) and that the salvation of America depended on the preservation of its Anglo-Saxon complexion. It is the face of what some have called an American fascism."


Who does Horowitz think he's kidding? (Yeah, sure, David, like the editors of Salon really wrote that headline without your knowledge or approval!) For if we take his protestations of innocence seriously, then we have to believe that he is saying the following: no, Pat is not a racist, but he is a neo-Nazi. It is hard to believe that anyone, even Horowitz, could make the case with a straight face.


Notice how he gets that little smear about America First in there: but what an ill-informed oak he must be, you are thinking, ill-read as well as ill-bred. Don't believe it for a minute. Horowitz knows perfectly well that this is an outrageous lie, a terrible slander on some very distinguished and even noble Americans, such as John T. Flynn, Charles A. Beard, Robert A. Taft, and others who made up the old America First movement.


Now this may seem like a parenthetical remark, but I must point out that all of these forgotten heroes are written about by Ronald Radosh in his book, Prophets on the Right.**  Radosh, by the way, is a friend of Horowitz's who came to his defense against the Time stinkbomb. We have been giving that book away to our donors, and I have been doing the packing. And what I noticed, while packing one the other day, was something I had never really looked at before, aside from a quick glance: the blurbs on the back cover. Anthony Lewis found the book "fascinating." Noam Chomsky called it "a penetrating and very useful study." And none other than David Horowitz is quoted as exulting that this is "an eye-opening book, a valuable contribution to the historiography of the Cold War."


And so Horowitz is not smearing out of ignorance – if he read even a small portion of the work he praises, he knows that the America First Committee had nothing to do with preserving any kind of "complexion," Anglo-Saxon or otherwise. Far from presenting the America Firsters as a bunch of WASPy reactionaries obsessed with preserving the white Anglo-Saxon "complexion" of America against the rising tide of color, Radosh depicts them as noble crusaders for a peaceful foreign policy who made a thoughtful, valuable and much neglected contribution to the American political debate. Did the same person endorse the Radosh book and write the above-quoted compendium of lies?


While Podhoretz probably believes his own bile, Horowitz is a self-conscious liar. Both of these pompous windbags are busy smearing Pat Buchanan – the difference is that the former doesn't mind being known as a hater, while the latter is too cowardly to admit what he is doing. Podhoretz is a transparent fraud, but Horowitz has cleverly avoided much comment on the subject of Buchanan until now, leaving others to do the dirty work. His coming out of the closet as a Pat Hater, however tentative and fearful, tells us everything we need to know Horowitz. All too many well-meaning conservatives of the hardcore variety have been taken in by his brand of "compassionate conservatism" spiced up with warmongering, China-baiting and a vague conspiracism involving Beijing payoffs to the DNC. Now that he has joined the lynch mob howling for Pat's blood – in his own oddly wimpish way – perhaps conservatives will have second thoughts about David Horowitz. Perhaps they will begin to hope that he will defect back to the Left – which is, unfortunately, far better off without him.


I had planned on making this column a kind of Encyclopedia of Anti-Buchananiana, and hoped to also discuss at least few more examples of this fast-growing literary phenomenon. The bloviations of the libertarians certainly deserve some comment, as they are in their way unique to the idiosyncrasies of that somewhat exotic species. Virginia Postrel, who has discovered the amazing fact that Things Change, has her own "dynamist" approach to the Buchanan Question – and it is as dreary and lifeless as Reason magazine itself. And so, out of pity for my readers – such as they are, at this point in what seems like a very long column – not to mention my Webmaster, I will save it for another installment of this ongoing serial, which I suppose will become known as "The Perils of Pat."


A RECOMMENDATION: Please take a look at the hottest new website since Matt Drudge catapulted the Internet to the front lines of the new media revolution: Lew Rockwell is well-known to libertarians and conservatives alike as a commentator who isn't afraid to tell it like it is, and he has been doing it as President of the Ludwig von Mises Institute and a regular columnist on, as well as a board member of CLS. For years I have been the glad recipient of a daily flurry of clippings, commentary, and other items of interest, and now you too can benefit with his unique insight into the news. His picks, and links, are the best – go ahead, try it. I know you're gonna like it.

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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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