Behind the Headlines
by Justin Raimondo

March 1, 2000


In Austria, the much-demonized Joerg Haider stepped down from his post as leader of the Freedom Party, after the European Union threatened everything short of an invasion in response to the party's entry into the government: in Belgium, the gaggle of Eurocrats, Commies, and left-wing Social Democrats who control the Brussels government are considering banning the Vlaams Bok, a nationalist anti-EU party that threatens the political hegemony of the Left. And in this country, John McCain denounced George W. Bush and his supporters as "agents of intolerance" who "are corrupting influences on religion and politics." The witch-hunt against the Right is gathering momentum, and taking on truly international proportions, as the self-proclaimed prophets of anti-"extremism" declare war not only on the legitimacy of right-wing politicians and parties, but on their very right to exist. Naming Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell, McCain flashed his characteristically spooky grimace and said: "They smear the reputations of my supporters because I don't pander to them, because I don't ascribe [sic] to their failed philosophy that money is our message." This, from the man who once solemnly promised his supporters that "we're going to conduct the kind of campaign that you're going to be proud of having been a part of." Proud? The scary fact is that McNasty and his media coven are proud of the smear job they have done on Dubya and his Religious Right allies. Claiming that the "Catholic Voter Alert" calls made in Michigan and Virginia were "factually correct," McCain declared that "I stand behind those phone calls" – the same phone calls that he and his campaign spent three days denying they knew anything about. Yes, "a campaign you can be proud of" – if your name is Niccolo Machiavelli.


A man's tinny and somewhat smarmy voice greeted Michigan and Virginia voters as they answered the phone's insistent ring:

"This is a Catholic Voter Alert. Gov. George Bush has campaigned against Sen. John McCain by seeking the support of southern fundamentalists who have expressed anti-Catholic views. Gov. Bush spoke at Bob Jones University in South Carolina. Bob Jones has made strong anti-Catholic statements, including calling the Pope the anti-Christ, the Catholic Church a satanic cult! John McCain, a pro-life senator, has strongly criticized this anti-Catholic bigotry, while Gov. Bush has stayed silent."


This is considered "factual" only in the age of Political Correctness, where failure to denounce any and all manifestations of "intolerance" are, well, simply intolerable. This is "factual" in a world where facts are twisted to demonize and smear any who oppose the new order. Every Republican presidential candidate within memory has stopped at Bob Jones University on the campaign trail, and the list of those who have made the pilgrimage also includes the chairman of the McCain campaign in South Carolina (who has an honorary degree from the institution he now demonizes) not to mention the Democratic governor of the state. Ah yes, but that was then, this is now. We are living in a the kind of culture in which a guest is not only permitted to denounce and insult his host, but such rudeness is obligatory if the host is suspected of "bigotry."


The secular Puritans who dominate the political class, including and especially the media elite, see life as a perpetual bout of sermonizing, in which the congregation is ceaselessly reminded not only of its moral obligations but also of its inherently sinful "fallen" state. In an election year in which the test of political correctness is especially rigorous, Bill Bradley perhaps won the prize with his invocation of "white skin privilege" at the height (or is that low point) of Al Sharpton's Harlem pander-fest. Now there is a phrase I haven't heard outside of an academic context since the heyday of the New Left, and it's appearance on the national political stage – unchallenged – is ominous in the extreme. For the idea of "white skin privilege" is that whites are inherently racist because of the privileges bestowed on them by their skin color. In the victimological alternate universe of American political culture, circa 2000 Anno Domini, this is not bigotry, but a simple "factual" statement. In such a crazy, upside-down world, bigotry is defined, in the case of Bob Jones U, as taking seriously the central idea of the Protestant Reformation – the illegitimacy of the Papacy and the Roman Catholic Church. This is the kind of moral certainty that our secular elites reserve for themselves. The President of the United States can give the order to drop bombs on one of the oldest cities in Europe, while his concubines fellate him in the Oval Office, and still be hailed as a great leader – as long as he does it in the name of "diversity." But let anyone anywhere show the least sign of resistance to the new secular Puritanism, and that person will be crucified on cross of his own making.


One odd consequence of this low point in American politics is that the McCain attack machine has somehow managed to turn Dubya into a sympathetic and even noble figure. Faced with this onslaught of McCaniac mudslinging, and a daily dose of the Senator's increasingly hysterical proclamations, the son has acquired some of the father's gravitas: he is as grave and calm as anyone must be who aspires to the Presidency, and the contrast to the perpetually apoplectic McNutty couldn't be starker.


The Bob Jones U controversy has established a new standard in American politics. From this moment forward, no candidate for public office may address a group of voters without mentioning and even emphasizing his differences with the audience. Instead of talking about shared values and political positions, the aspiring office seeker is now obligated to lecture his hosts on their many shortcomings. It is going to be very interesting to see how this new standard is going to be applied. Somehow I don't think that anyone will be attacked for not mentioning the plight of the Palestinians in addressing the American-Israel Political Action Committee, or failing to condemn the excesses of black nationalism when speaking before the NAACP. The really deadly aspect of this particular weapon in the McCainiac arsenal is its flexibility. For example, there was no public outcry when John McCain spoke on the same platform as Joe DioGuardi, the leading American supporter of the racist Kosovo Liberation Army – which is even now carrying out the ethnic cleansing of the last Serbs from that tortured country.


Speaking of the Kosovo Liberation Army, their radical wing endorsed McCain the other day. I reproduce an Albanian News dispatch, headlined "Albanian Republicans Salute McCain," below:

"TIRANA- Albania's Republican Party salutes American runner for US President John McCain, a daily Republika reported on Thursday. The results published up to now of the American presidential campaign show that John McCain lies some 6 points ahead of George W. Bush [?], pushing Albanian Republicans to declare their sympathy to their American counterpart. Referring to recent meetings between Albanian republican leader Mediu and John McCain in Washington D.C, the party's daily underlined that bilateral relations between the two parties have experienced further strengthening and enrichment. Albania's Republican Party hopes that such relations will create a positive impact both for the party itself and its voters.


The Albanian Republican Party – gee, I didn't know that McCain, in his role as head of the board of the International Republican Institute (the Republican half of the National Endowment for Democracy) managed to found a McCainite party in Albania. At least, not until this dispatch – and the latest news from Mitrovica, where Albanian fanatics are now marching on the last Serb neighborhood in Kosovo, determined to ethnically "cleanse" the city and achieve their longtime goal of a racially "pure" Greater Albania. For the radical instigators of the Mitrovica showdown, in which American troops were pelted with sticks and stones and then fired on, turn out to be none other than these Abanian McCainiacs, the cadres of the Albanian Republican Party. The Guardian (UK) reported the central role of McCain's Albanian fan club in the ongoing Mitrovica crisis as early as October of last year:

"There was a great hollering and whooping as the ethnic Albanian youths, now packed in their thousands, tried to storm the bridge crossing. Fear, like an electric current, passed through the Serb crowd. Six Danish armoured vehicles from K-For rumbled on to the bridge and fired their cannon into the air. Gendarmes and carabinieri lumbered in to do medieval-style combat with the rioters, dressed from head to toe in body armour. They fired deafening stun grenades and canisters of choking tear gas to stop the Albanians reaching the Serbs. The ethnic Albanians retaliated with rocks, crates, bottles, anything that came to hand.

"'We have two French gendarmes wounded,' said Alain Léonard, a French military nurse in a flak jacket. "The Albanians threw a grenade and one of them was seriously hurt," he said. Four police were wounded in total, according to the French military.

"Skender Hoti, leader of the obscure Albanian Republican party which called the march, said the ethnic Albanians were going to mount 180 days of continued "peaceful and cultural protest."


As the Balkan Crisis News Daily reported, these "Albanians for McCain" has been the most militant of the intractable nationalist factions spoiling for a renewed fight with the Serbs:

"'Unfortunately since the entry of KFOR (NATO peacekeepers) into Kosovo the Albanian freedom fighters have not hoisted their flag and started normal life in the northern part of Kosovo, and more specifically Mitrovica,' said Skender Hoti, president of the Kosovo Albanian Republican Party."


And they will raise that flag over Mitrovica no matter what the cost. The Albanian Republican Party is a tiny, extremist minority party that calls for the extension of "Greater Albania" to include not only Kosovo, but also parts of Macedonia and Greece, as well as Montenegro. In the last elections, these frothy-mouthed agitators polled barely enough votes to garner a single representative in the Albanian parliament, but the party seeks to increase its vote total by recruiting Kosovo youth into violent street gangs – waiting for the day when Albania and Kosovo are one. If their friend John McCain should win the White House, that day may not be far.


The use of religious rivalry and resentments as a weapon in the campaign is not limited to the smearing of Dubya as the puppet of "anti-Catholic bigots." For no candidate for public office can be designated politically incorrect in the fundamental sense without being "proved" to be anti-Semitic, or at least depicted as pandering to anti-Semitic sentiment. For that job, the Smear Brigade has turned to the eminently qualified Frank Rich, who vomits up the same bile flung at Pat Buchanan. Indeed, the similarity between the trumped-up charges in both cases is positively eerie. . . .


Remember all the criticism Buchanan came under when he attacked the War Party, and named national security expert Richard Perle, and columnists Charles Krauthammer and William Safire as prominent supporters of the Gulf War, which Buchanan opposed? Why, all three happened to be Jewish – and the Smear Brigade immediately pounced on this as "proof" that Pat is an "anti-Semite." Now, the same technique is being used, with great effect, on supporters of George Bush, namely one Marvin Olasky, editor of World magazine and the architect of the "compassionate conservative" paradigm. In response to the brouhaha raised by the militantly secular Rich and others over Bush's declaration that Jesus Christ has been the single greatest philosophical influence on his life, Olasky accused his candidate's critics of having "holes in their souls" for enforcing the banishment of all religion from American life and politics. Citing a passage from Tom Wolfe's recent novel, A Man in Full, Olasky depicted the militant secular humanists who dominate the culture as neo-pagan acolytes of "the religion of Zeus." To Rich, of course, this reference to classical Greek mythology can mean only one thing: surely this is evidence of anti-Semitism! If that does not seem to compute, then you don't live in the alternate universe of the victimologists, for according to Rich:

"The only three journalists he cites by name happen by total coincidence to be Jewish (Bill Kristol and David Brooks of The Weekly Standard are the other two). I'm sure it's also a coincidence that Mr. Olasky, a former Jew who converted to Christianity over 20 years ago, has spun this theory at a moment when Pat Robertson is targeting Mr. Rudman, the most visible Jew in the McCain campaign. Mr. Olasky phoned me – but only after his column prompted embarrassing national press calls to the Bush campaign – to reassure me that of course he's not an anti-Semite. Whew! He still hasn't told me whether the religion of Zeus goes in for Bar Mitzvahs."


Poor naïve Olasky! Doesn't he know that in the post-millennial political culture we are trapped in, those suspected of political incorrectness are presumed guilty until proven innocent? The ethnic and religious composition of every statement, every position, every off the cuff remark must be carefully weighed and scrutinized: it is impermissible to criticize three Jews in a single article if you don't throw a couple of WASPs in there for measure. This vicious McCaniac assault on the Bush camp as, of all things, a cabal of anti-Semites has got to be the lowest blow of all, and the insufferable Warren Rudman just revels in it. "There's no question in my mind that it's anti-Semitism," he says. "The way they pronounced my name in phone calls! They're unhappy it's not Finkelstein." Rich reports that Rudman did not "think the Bush campaign was clueless about what was going on."


But how, I ask, could one possibly pronounce the name "Rudman" to make it seem more like "Finkelstein"? Warren Rudman is hearing things, and he ought to get a complete medical checkup: Alzheimer's is a distinct possibility. Either that, or Rudman, like his candidate, is a loose cannon, as nutty and hyperbolic as Mad John himself. Rudman denounces Ralph Reed as a "baby-faced assassin" but shows a real appreciation for the art of character assassination when he remarks to Rich that Pat Robertson and the Christian Coalition have their uses: "You love to make enemies like him." This is their campaign strategy: Demonization is what the McCain campaign is all about. It is the American version of what is happening in Europe, where the Right is not only universally abhorred by the elites but also in danger of being banned. They haven't gotten around to that in this country just yet: for now, they'll have to settle for a purely metaphorical firing squad, as the liberal media keep up a constant barrage of increasingly wacky accusations.


First, we are told that a campaign that falls all over itself to pander to "multiculturalism" and prides itself on its alleged affinity for and popularity with Latino voters, is really pandering to anti-Catholic prejudices. When this backfired in heavily Catholic Virginia – where McCain got creamed – the McCain camp, undaunted, just moved into the second phase of their hate campaign – "proving" that Bush is really an anti-Semite, or, at least, is being used by anti-Semites. Naturally, it is a coincidence that this charge should arise just as the campaign rolls into New York. For by the new standards now being ruthlessly enforced by the guardians of political correctness, to imply that this is deliberate would be indulging in anti-Semitic "conspiracy theories."


The worldwide offensive against the Right has escalated to the point of complete absurdity: for now we are faced with the spectacle of the most moderate Republican candidate in a field once crowded with conservatives being martyred as an American Haider, labeled a "Pat Robertson Republican" and exiled to the fever swamps of the "far right." As improbably bizarre and palpably unfair as this sounds, McCain and his media entourage may just get away with it – and in the process move the boundaries of "acceptable" political discourse several giant leaps leftward. Gee, if even George W. Bush is too "right-wing" to pass inspection by the arbiters of the permissible, then Buchanan is definitely out of bounds, and as for me – I may yet suffer the fate of the Vlaams Bok. What is happening today makes the McCarthyite hysteria of the fifties seem like an era of tolerance and civil discourse. At least old Joe's charge that the US government had been penetrated by Communist agents at the highest levels had some substance, as Soviet archives recently revealed. This is more than can be said for the completely trumped-up charges of "fascism" and "neo-Nazism" and "anti-Semitism" and anti-whatever-ism that are being thrown around so lightly by smear-happy McCaniacs and their allies around the world.


My heart goes out to those loyal Republicans appalled that their party is being run over by a media-driven motorcade of militant "moderates" – who are demonically immoderate when it comes to smearing and destroying their political opponents. They are experiencing what we in the Buchanan Brigades have been going through since 1992. Oh well, too bad you guys don't have a spokesman as articulate and combative as our champion, the real conservative alternative to the interchangeable candidates of post-millennial liberalism run amok. But then your candidate, like McCain, is a warmonger, who has all the usual suspects handing him foreign policy "advice." In the realm that really counts, foreign policy, where a President can have immediate and deadly dangerous effect, Bush is just McCain Lite – and their differences over domestic matters are insubstantial and not fundamental. The weakness of Bush is not only or even primarily in his persona: as a candidate he seems to have overcome his early incoherence, and achieved a kind of dignity in the midst of the maelstrom. His vulnerability is ideological: it is the complete prostration of a mush-mouthed milk-and-water "compassionate" conservatism up against the muscular clarity of the McCainian vision of "national greatness" statism and Teddy Roosevelt-style imperialism. In the face of a candidate who has mastered the art of bombast, the bromidic ambiguities of the Bushian platform seem as insubstantial as soap bubbles.


No candidate can claim the GOP presidential nomination without carrying either California or New York. McCain could well carry New York – and tie up the California results in court. By carrying the fight to the Republican convention, and winning in an intra-party battle over credentials, the McCain forces could win California's rich load of delegates – just as Eisenhower delegates stole delegates and the nomination from Taft in 1952. In Texas, the Eisenhower Republicans ignored the "closed" GOP primaries, and held their own "open" caucuses, where Democrats and others elected delegates pledged to Ike. The Taft forces demanded that Texas law be obeyed and the GOP be allowed to nominate its own delegates, but the media raised a ruckus about Taft "stealing" delegates, as Phyllis Schlafly related in her classic A Choice, Not an Echo. Schlafly cites Alan Drury's novel Advise and Consent in describing how the media propaganda machine went into full operation, as if on cue, to back the Eisenhower credentials challenge:

"All the vast publicity machine that always goes into concerted actin for a liberal cause had gone to work . . . an operation so honed and smoothed and refined over the years that none of its proprietors even had to consult with one another. The instinct had been alerted, the bell had rung, the national salivations had come forth on schedule."


The national salivation we are witnessing – on the part of the liberal media and the most opportunistic and even shamelessly power-hungry "conservatives" of the "neo" variety – is not just disgusting, it is also depressingly familiar to students of the GOP's history. Will the Eastern wing of the GOP steal the nomination right out from under the hapless noses of the conservatives once again? It is a scenario that becomes increasingly possible in spite of the stunning Bush victories in Virginia, Washington, and North Dakota. It may be that those conservatives who remain loyal to their party are about to learn their lesson the hard way: that the "iron triangle" that keeps the elites in power consists of the media in alliance with the two "major" parties. Perhaps they will finally absorb that lesson in Philadelphia – and remember it long enough to take their revenge in November.

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