Behind the Headlines
by Justin Raimondo
A great many powerful people are determined that American voters will hear nary a word about the criminal folly of our foreign policy this presidential election cycle, and naturally the leaders of the two major parties are prominent among them. These two parties have been collaborating on a policy of perpetual war for perpetual "peace" since the end of the last world war, and they are not about to stop now: indeed, with the cold war over and America the world's sole superpower, the party has just begun. To the victor goes the spoils, and America's corporate elite is taking this old saying quite literally: big corporate donors to both the Democrats and Republicans getting rich off government handouts and other "foreign aid" that make their exports especially profitable and keep the military-industrial complex humming with activity. But that collaboration is no longer limited to the "majors" now a significant portion of the Reform Party leadership has joined the club.
A small cabal of Reform Party bosses now there's an ironic phrase for you! is trying to cheat Pat Buchanan out of the party's presidential nomination, by hook or by crook to block him from raising the key issues this election year. From Connecticut to Georgia to Colorado, and now California, the entrenched leadership is determined to keep out supporters of Buchanan's candidacy by simply disenfranchising anyone but themselves. In California, for example, at their recent state convention, the Reform leaders ruled that party members who have been enrolled for less than six months were ineligible to be delegates thus effectively depriving the majority of the Buchanan supporters from even having the right to speak at the convention. This from a party that boasts of its 'inclusiveness' and much-vaunted populism! Wasn't it Ross Perot who championed voting via the Internet, opening up the process, and holding national referendums: now those who speak in his name (or, at least, are invariably described as "Perot loyalists" in the media) are setting up a self-perpetuating Reform Party oligarchy that rivals Tammany Hall in the brazenness of its bossism. Are these people completely insensitive to irony?
In his speech to the convention, Buchanan appealed to the delegates' sense of fairness as well as their party loyalty: "If we win this battle and we've got the delegates, I would ask people even if they disagree: What good is it going to do, then, to keep arguing and damage our cause?" But that, I'm afraid, is the whole point these people want to do damage, as much as possible: that has become their mission in life. They have no alternative to Buchanan: in their desperation they are grasping at any straw. As Connecticut Reform chairwoman Donna Donovan one of the charter members of the "Hate Buchanan" brigade told a reporter, some members continue to talk about drafting Mr. Perot, jointly nominating Green Party candidate Ralph Nader "or not endorsing anyone." This Dallas Morning News story informs us that the Connecticut Reformers also passed a resolution denouncing Buchanan for making "demoralizing" public statements that supposedly imply the party is "dysfunctional." To begin with, Buchanan has always loyally defended the Reform party from the snide characterization by many in the media that likens it to a "circus." But perhaps he should have spoken out a little more forcefully against that section of the party leadership that clearly is dysfunctional, in the exact meaning of that word, and seems intent on self-destructing rather than accept a Buchanan victory. "Anybody but Buchanan" is at least a plausible political strategy for his opponents in the Reform party to pursue: but "Nobody instead of Buchanan" reveals the complete political bankruptcy and negativity of this retrograde trend. They have no politics, no strategy, and no program except: "get Buchanan!"
The mini-bosses who have clung to their tiny Reform Party fiefdoms like barnacles on a rock haven't got a clue about how to put together a real third party movement in this country and have long since lost sight of ever achieving such a goal, blinded as they are by their hatred of Buchanan. For the truth is that before the entrance of Buchanan and his supporters into the organization, the Reform Party was dying on the vine. But they don't want to believe it: "He's not rescuing us; it may be just the opposite," said Bob Ferrario of Los Gatos, Calif., to a reporter at the California convention. "He just wants to use it as a platform for his social philosophy, but that's not what we're about. We're centrist." I have news for Bob Ferrario and the rest of the political geniuses in his camp: we already have not one but two presidential candidates moving rapidly toward the mushy "center" of American politics, namely George "Dubya" Bush and Al Gore. If Americans want more of this "centrist" politics, then why should they vote for some nutball third party that normally hasn't got a snowball's chance in hell of winning the election?
After doing everything in their power to exclude Buchanan and his supporters from the Reform Party in state after state, these very same people have the nerve to turn around and rail at Pat for not being sufficiently "inclusive." Aside from the shenanigans of the minuscule Connecticut group, the Dallas Morning News also reports that something calling itself the Reform Leadership Council has declared that Buchanan must disavow the remarks of one of his followers to the effect that Jim Mangia, the party's national secretary a former member of the Fulani group well-known for his charter membership in the "rule or ruin" faction of the party should resign. Since Mangia is gay as is also well-known this was immediately and inevitably interpreted by Buchanan's enemies as an example of Buchananite "homophobia." Mangia, said Delaware Reform Party chairman William Shields, should be removed from his convention and kicked out of the national convention "along with any trash or dangerous biological waste that may have founds its way onto the convention floor." The "Leadership Council" which we are told exists to "promote unity" in the party is demanding that Buchanan ask Shields to resign. While the meaning of Shields' remarks appear cloudy, at best, and certainly open to interpretation, one has to wonder exactly what the pro-"unity" Leadership Council (including Russell Verney, Perot's aide) think they are going to get away with. For why is this "tolerance" question always a one-way street? How come it is always Buchanan who is being called on to be "tolerant," while his intransigently intolerant opponents get to make all the demands? In the name of "tolerance" and "diversity," they aver, Buchanan must now prove that he isn't "hateful" and "homophobic" and disavow Shields. This is utter crap: Pat Buchanan is no homophobe, he just doesn't approve of homosexuality. I have written about my own homosexuality in this column, and elsewhere through the years but that didn't stop Pat from appearing at Antiwar.com's national conference, or from putting my articles on his website, or from writing a laudatory introduction to my first book, Reclaiming the American Right. And so to Jim Mangia and his many friends in the American media, who have faithfully recorded every syllable of Mangia's utterances on the Buchanan question, I ask: If he's such a big homophobe, then how do you explain that?
The problem is not Mangia's sex life although, looking at the guy, it may be a problem for him but his politics: the difference between Mangia and myself is that I don't demand that everyone take a position on the morality or immorality of my private life, I don't see gays as an "oppressed minority" in need of special protections as an official victim class and I applaud Buchanan for his principled position that Cabinet members will be appointed on the basis of their ability and their views, and not because of their sexual "orientation." And, no, I'm not angling for Secretary of State: even if Buchanan did rule out homosexuals (known, unknown, or possible) from so much as hanging the new curtains Shelley has all picked out for the White House, I could not only learn to live with it I could and would learn to love it as we brought home all our troops from Kosovo inside of a few months. Hell, I wouldn't even remember it and neither would anybody else as President Buchanan told the Europeans: "You're on your own, fellas," and not only halted NATO expansion but got us entirely out of NATO, and out of the middle of Europe's wars. Sell the Taiwanese the weapons to defend themselves, let the South Koreans decide how they want to deal with their collapsing adversaries to the north, and tell the Europeans "au revoir" Pat's program of peace and a return to the foreign policy of the Founders would be such a plus that I wouldn't be too upset about not being appointed Secretary of State, or even Ambassador to Luxembourg.
For in the end, this isn't all about what's good for me, personally, but what's good for the country and the cause of liberty. This is why I find the prattle about Buchanan's position on the social issues so annoying. Compared to the question of whether or not 5,000 Iraqi children will be starved to death by US sanctions this month which Buchanan would end on his first day in office is Jim Mangia's sex life (or mine, for that matter) really all that important? So what if I can't bring my Significant Other to the presidential swearing-in ceremony. It's enough, for me, that, as Pat puts it, "when I raise my hand to take that oath of office, their New World Order will come crashing down!"
At the California convention, the outgoing Executive Committee issued a series of demands centering on Pat's position on social issues, declaring that he must not interfere in the party's platform, must have no litmus tests for his vice presidential candidate and indeed must have no say in determining who is running is to be a resolution that was overwhelming voted down by the general convention. Every Buchananite worth his or her salt can have only one answer to such arrogance: to hell with you, buddy! It is high time the Buchanan camp stopped conciliating some of these habitual factionalists including some supposedly aligned with him and started making some demands of his own. The first demand should be to party loyalty: as the national secretary of the Reform Party, Mangia and other Reform Party officers must either pledge to abide by the results of the Long Beach convention or get out now. Here is a point that every loyal Reform Party member can agree on, and that is a pledge to support the party's presidential nominee, whomever it might be. Although I would be bitterly disappointed and even outraged if Ross Perot listened to Arianna Huffington, Mangia, and their friends in the media and jumped into the race as abruptly as he quit the last time, if he beat Pat fair and square I'd support him in the end. Could the "Anybody but Pat" crowd make the same claim? I thought not. . . .
This alleged division between the Buchanan and Perot factions is largely a product of Mangia's imagination. When he made headlines with the news he and his allies were holding nationwide rallies urging Perot to take the field against Buchanan, it was little noted that these events were very sparsely attended. These are generals without much of an army. The reality is that Buchanan and Perot have much in common: Perot was an early and vociferous critic of the Gulf war, and his opposition to NAFTA and the corporate elite that controls the Republican party puts him in ideological sync with Buchanan. The irony is that the efforts of self-proclaimed Perot "loyalists" to create an artificial division plays right into the hands of the viciously anti-Perot and anti-third party media, which has always characterized the Reform Party as Ross' cult of personality and also obscures the very real appeal of Perot's ideas. Besides the twin political themes of opposition to foreign wars (such as the Gulf war) and "free trade" agreements, Perot was also making the point, in his two presidential runs, that America was facing a crisis. The vehicle is broke, and we have to get down under the hood and fix it; a similar theme that "all is not well" pervades Buchanan's rhetoric, and he has further developed this Perotista populism by calling for popular referendums and radical campaign finance reform, including making ballot access less onerous. Furthermore, Buchanan has taken the original Perot theme of opposition to the Gulf war and extended the lesson of that sinful war to the whole realm of foreign policy. Far from being in conflict, the two main tendencies in the Reform Party, followers of Perot and Buchanan, are ideologically complementary.
In this election, both main parties will have their own "third party" problem, and it wouldn't surprise me at all if they are intervening, however indirectly, in the internal politics of both the Reformers and the Greens. When I wrote about Ralph Nader the other day, I got angry letters from a bunch of Greens who assured me that Nader hasn't got the Green Party presidential nod yet, and that this just shows my complete ignorance of what the Green Party is all about. To these folks, I say: go for it! Nader could cost the Democrats California, and I hope the DNC gives the "Anybody but Nader" headquarters all the soft money they can spend. On the other hand, if I were the Buchanan campaign, I would pay very close attention to what is going on in the camp of the enemy. And I don't mean Ross Perot, who has said he wouldn't interfere in the nominating process; in spite of having his name taken in vain by his alleged followers, Perot has so far stubbornly and admirably stayed above the fray. I'm talking about the grand poobahs and strategists in the Bush camp, who rightly fear Buchanan's pull on their right flank.
These guys have a lot of money to throw around more than any presidential candidate in history and also motive to spend it:. It takes money and organization to create a credible presidential operation, and Buchanan has managed to do it. But it also takes money and organization to disrupt and derail a political party, to carry out a coordinated splitting operation and run what is in effect a wrecking operation. They almost did it at the recent California Reform Party convention, where the plan was to deny Buchanan ballot status in California by taking advantage of state election laws giving the state party organization (in effect, a small clique) the ability to control who appears on their ballot regardless of what the national Reform Party decides. By law, the Reform Party of California can put anyone they want on the ballot or no one at all. At the last minute, the Buchanan forces managed to elect a state party chairman sympathetic to their cause, effectively foiling this bureaucratic ploy, but the forces of goodness and light came within a hair's breadth of losing it and we haven't even gotten to the main event yet.
I am, by the way, an alternate delegate to the national Reform Party convention yes, you'll be getting on-the-spot reporting fresh, a blow-by-blow account of the Battle of Long Beach. The media is sure to play up the last Reform Party high-level meeting that made the news, where the "chairman" refused to open the meeting and chairs were thrown, and you can be sure that more than a few provocateurs paid and unpaid will be in that crowd, ready to make their move on cue. But who is giving the cues? That's what I want to know . . .
Oh, but so what, say those of you as yet unconvinced by my constant harping on the subject of Buchanan, why are you writing about this again in a column ostensibly devoted to analysis of foreign policy. Okay, once more with feeling: The reason is that if Antiwar.com had been around during the campaign of Eugene McCarthy for President, then he would have earned our plaudits and gotten them. So, today, with Buchanan the only candidate who would stop the murderous war on Iraq, on those grounds alone he is the one possible choice for antiwar activists of the left as well as the right. From Colombia to the Caspian, from Kosovo to Peru, the War Party has great plans for the post-cold war era a new era of wars, and conquests, and perhaps a new empire that spans the globe. Buchanan has challenged them head on and don't think they are going to let him get away with it. He is fighting an heroic battle, and as a chapter in the history of the movement against global intervention, the Buchanan campaign will go down in the history books along with the McCarthy campaign and that of Eugene Debs from a jail cell during World War I as a high point. We are almost never given a choice when it comes to foreign policy in presidential elections, but this time around it could be different. But never forget: the War Party has more than one trick up its sleeve, and we have yet to see the end of their shenanigans. It will be interesting, if nothing else. . . .
I can't end this column without noting that our beloved President has been awarded the Charlemagne Prize for his efforts at promoting European unity. He proudly accepted an honor named after one of the worst tyrants in European history, who put more peasants to the sword than the Serbs ever did. Charlemagne was an absolute autocrat and the founder of the "Holy Roman Empire" an entity that was neither Roman, nor all that holy. As historian Alexander Murray, a professor of European history at the University of Toronto, put it to the National Post:
"One point of similitude, he offered, was their joint enthusiasm for sponsoring decadent parties for the rich and powerful. 'Charlemagne would encourage large numbers of people to bathe together, including courtiers and bodyguards,' said Mr. Murray. 'Eventually, his son, Louis the Pious, was forced to kick out all those courtiers for moral and sexual reasons. When Louis came, the court was cleaned up.'"
If history is repeating itself, there are elements of tragedy as well as farce. This award for fostering the growth of the European Union super-state is well-earned and while the Europeans are hailing him, his own countrymen may come to curse him for it. Ever since the end of the cold war, the War Party has been looking for a credible enemy to put in its place: an excuse for huge profits for the armaments industry, a reason to divert attention away from the crisis at home, another reason to empower and enrich the Washington elite. They have so far failed to come up with a convincing placebo for the old Soviet Union, since neither Russia nor China quite fit the bill. The solution: create a suitable enemy, a Frankenstein monster made out of the broken bits and pieces of the historical nation-states of Europe. But that, as they say, is another column. . . .
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