Behind the Headlines
by Justin Raimondo
In a symbolic exhibit of singular appropriateness, the Republican National convention in Philadelphia will be the occasion for showcasing helicopters, tanks and other hardware for the delectation of GOP members of Congress. The show will take place at Philadelphia's former naval base. According to the Pentagon, the regulations prohibiting the military's association with partisan events do not apply in this case because the military exhibition is "a legitimate response to a request from members of Congress to provide an opportunity to educate elected officials in the military's capabilities and their equipment." As former defense secretary and major war profiteer Dick Cheney takes his place beside Dubya on the Republican ticket, what better symbol of the GOP's fealty to the military-industrial complex than this ostentatious display? The Pentagon declined to give figures for the costs incurred, but money is no object as far as Rep. Curt Weldon is concerned. After all, as Weldon put it, "this is a priceless opportunity to showcase our military and the need for further defense spending.''
Since the much-vaunted differences between our two "major" parties disappear at the water's edge since both Republicans and Democrats support an internationalist foreign policy and gargantuan outlays for military spending, in spite of the end of the cold war the use of the American military for propaganda purposes is okay, as long as it is "nonpartisan" or, at least, bi-partisan. And just to underscore this vital point, the Weldon letter was also signed by Rep. Brady, Democrat of Pennsylvania. The cost to the taxpayers? The Pentagon isn't giving out any figures, but you can bet it won't come cheap but money is no object as far as Weldon and Brady are concerned. After all, this is but a drop in the bucket in the context of how much the taxpayers are involuntarily contributing to the two major party conventions: a whopping $13,512,000 each. This is on top of the $60 million each for the general election. These figures are almost never cited by "mainstream" journalists of either the left or the right, as if the legitimacy of the subsidies is beyond question. On the other hand, we have been hearing a whole lot about the $12.5 million that will go to the Reform Party's presidential nominee. Though less than what the two "majors" are getting to put on their national conventions, this is a much bigger deal because the recipient of the money is likely to be one Patrick J. Buchanan. Russell Verney, the Reform "boss" now without a party office, has recently threatened that Buchanan will be "getting out of the wrong end of an old-age home before he actually receives the $12 million." Interviewed by the New York Times, Verney averred that the Federal Election Commission, which is after all "made up of Democrats and Republicans, is not going to be in any hurry to send out any checks." Openly allying with a two-party monopoly he has repeatedly denounced for "corruption," Verney is a classic example of how personal vindictiveness and boss-ism can undermine the original goals of a movement and poison and spirit of any party.
It is truly a sight to see Verney, and what is rightly called his "wrecking crew," so eagerly doing the work of the major parties in trying their best to sabotage Buchanan's bid. They have used every trick in the book, so far, and by convention time they will be ready for a few that are not in the book. And what a circus that is going to be which is precisely the line that Verney is helping the media put out there. The Reform Party "circus" that will be the drumbeat, so that the birth of the first third party of any consequence since the rise of the GOP will be the occasion for a chorus of derisive hoots and knowing laughter. The laughter will die down, and even be silenced, however, once the TV ads start running against foreign interventionism:
PICTURE FOOTAGE OF US COMBAT PLANES DROPPING BOMBS ON SERBIAN CITIES: BELOW, BLOSSOMS OF FIRE SPROUT LIKE MUSHROOMS ACROSS THE LANDSCAPE.
VOICEOVER: WE RAINED DEATH ON SERBIAN CITIES FROM 30,000 FT. AND ATTACKED A PEOPLE WHO HAD NEVER ATTACKED US, KILLING OVER 5,000 AND FOR WHAT?
PICTURE: THE KOSOVO 'LIBERATION' ARMY GOOSESTEPPING THOUGH PRISTINA, RED FLAGS FLYING, ARMS OUTSTRETCHED IN THEIR QUASI-NAZI SALUTE,.
VOICEOVER: WHILE SERBS FLEE FOR THEIR LIVES AND A NEW WAVE OF ETHNIC CLEANSING SWEEPS THIS 'LIBERATED' LAND THIS TIME PAID FOR BY YOU, THE AMERICAN TAXPAYERS.
PICTURE: PATRICK J. BUCHANAN, SITTING IN HIS OFFICE AT HOME, WITH SHELLEY BY HIS SIDE. HIS HARDEDGED STERNNESS IS OFFSET BY THE TWINKLE IN HIS EYE, THE HINT OF SARDONIC MISCHIEVOUSNESS THAT SEEMS TO ANIMATE HIM AS HE PREPARES TO MAKE AN IRREFUTABLE POINT:
"If I am elected President, US support for the would-be dictators of Kosovo will come to an end. Let me state my present intent: If elected, I will have all U.S. troops out of the Balkan quagmire by year's end, and all American troops home from Europe by the end of my first term. Forty years ago, President Eisenhower pleaded with end. JFK to bring all U.S. troops home from Europe. Certainly, sixty years after the end of World War II, and fifteen years after the Berlin Wall fell, is not too soon to get all US troops out of Europe and let Europeans provide and pay the cost of their own defense. If not now, when?"
Not now or ever: this is the view of the Anti-Buchanan Brigades, who will do anything note to the Secret Service and other law enforcement agencies: and I do mean anything to ensure that such a TV ad never makes it on the air. Working in tandem with Verney and the Wrecking Crew soon to make its debut at an MTV "Rocks the Vote" concert the "get Buchanan" crowd has been working overtime lately, churning out hit pieces on both sides of the Atlantic. The Edsall piece in the Washington Post has been ably refuted by George Szamuely, and I also had something to say about the new McCarthyism of the left as practiced by the Post. In a letter to the editor of the Post, Buchanan answered the charges ably and with admiral restraint and good humor. But refutations don't matter to the professional smearmongers, and we aren't just talking about the liberals over at the Post, or Clintonian-leftist Larry Flynts of this world.
The effectiveness of this concerted campaign to smear Pat Buchanan is that a vital and energetic section of it emanates from the right. Norman Podhoretz, Charles Krauthammer, Bill Kristol and the gang at the Weekly Standard in short, the "neo"-conservatives whose heroes are Democrats like Harry Truman and Scoop Jackson, and who came over from the left have been way ahead of the left in smearing Buchanan as an "extremist" of the right. Now "gen-ex" neocons are having their say, with Jonah Goldberg, editor of National Review Online and progenitor of a crusade to undertake an American invasion of Africa adding his voice to the chorus. In a recent column, Goldberg writes: "I've never thought the Germans had much to teach us about how to run a country, but I'm beginning to change my mind. In Germany, cults are banned from national politics; in America they're given a big shiny political party. Just look at what is happening in the Reform Party." From a snide capsulized history of the Reform party up until it qualified for matching funds, Goldberg segues into his natural element: sleaze. Goldberg's initial 15 minutes of fame, you'll remember, were the result of his peripheral involvement in Monica-gate as the Son of Lucianne Goldberg, who brokered the infamous Linda Tripp tapes, young Jonah's realm of expertise was, uh, rather narrow, but he has since branched out to become an all-around provider of political wisdom. "Before 1992," he informs us, "the Reform Party didn't exist" yet now the Buchananized Reformers will get their hands on $12 million. Goldberg is piously horrified:
"A former pundit and orthodox movement conservative whom I used to like a great deal Buchanan has become the dashboard saint for America's racist and anti-Semitic fringe. The Washington Post's Thomas Edsall reported recently that a coalition of white supremacist, neo-, semi- and all-but-entirely Nazi groups has rallied around Buchanan. You certainly don't have to be a racist to support Buchanan I know honorable people who do. But if you are a racist, Buchanan's your guy, and he's OK with that. As one "white rights" group editorial put it, 'Our type of people Nationalists have been joining the Reform Party all across America and this is going to almost guarantee that Buchanan will be its candidate in November.'"
Having graduated from retailing the smarmy details of Bill Clinton's pathologically boring sex life, Goldberg is now acting as a transmission belt for another kind of filth. By quoting obscure cranks without any following or significance except their ready availability to reporters as "endorsing" Buchanan, we are supposed to believe that Pat is the moral and political equivalent of some dime-store demagogue. Engaged as it is in an orgy of political correctness, the GOP and its partisans can ill afford to be haunted by the specter of a permanent party to their right. Thus, the frenzied assault on Buchanan and particularly on the prospect of his campaign receiving the (relatively) measly $12 mil. In resorting to cries of "racism," various errand-boys for the RNC, such as Goldberg, reveal not only their desperation but their essentially left-wing mindset. To even raise the issues of unchecked immigration, and the unchecked influence of foreign lobbies on our foreign policy, is for Goldberg and his liberal friends over at the Washington Post a racist act in and of itself. It is enough for Goldberg to spread the despicable lie that "if you're a racist, Buchanan's your guy, and he's OK with that." Quit suckin' on that crack pipe, Jonah: wishing doesn't make it so. Somehow, the journalistic Boy Wonder of National Review Online did not refer his readers to the Buchanan campaign's strong statement denying any connection to or sympathy with these groups: to liberals and neocons, however, it doesn't matter in their eyes, denials of bigotry only confirm the initial diagnosis. Angela "Bay" Buchanan, his senior campaign adviser and sister, wouldn't even talk to the Post but had this to say in a news release: "If any member of any such group has gravitated to our campaign, it was without our knowledge, or consent. But if they have, they probably did so because they came to believe the malicious lies about my brother spread by such institutions as the Washington Post. You do your worst; we shall do our best."
No one has ever established a single connection between any Buchanan staffer and a racist organization, but this hasn't stopped Goldberg and the Anti-Buchanan Brigades from repeating the Big Lie endlessly. This is what it means to be a gossipmonger in the truest purest sense: picture a politicized gossip columnist like Goldberg and his ilk as a kind of parrot, mindlessly repeating what has been heard or read, and squawking in unison with the other pet pundits. Together, they make enough noise to give some apparent validity to their accusations, no matter what the facts: after all, if Pat Buchanan wasn't an anti-Semitic racist sexist admirer of Franco and Father Coughlin, then why are all these people saying he is? Goldberg is at least smart enough to realize that the outcry seems like a reenactment of what happens to conservative Republicans when they oppose leftist initiatives like affirmative action and open borders: trying to cover his sorry ass, Goldberg has the nerve to write: "Indeed, I believe, for example, that many conservative groups are falsely accused of anti-Semitism, racism, etc. because Northern liberals are bigoted against Christians, Southerners and conservatives." Like which conservative groups, Jonah? Perhaps you're talking about the Anti-Defamation League's infamous attack on Pat Robertson and the Christian Coalition, which branded both as "anti-Semitic" a charge that re-surfaced during the GOP primaries, with John McCain using it to club Dubya via Robertson and the hapless Jerry Falwell. The Democrats have surely stocked this cock-and-bull story in their arsenal of disinformation and 'black propaganda,' and are ready to haul it out after the conventions. But if those charges are false, and motivated by partisan advantage, then why do the same sort of attacks coming from exactly the same people have any validity in regard to Buchanan? Clearly the strategy of GOP loyalists in the punditocracy is to deflect charges of racism, anti-Semitism, and other politically incorrect "isms" in Buchanan's direction. But this strategy, which can be easily used against any and all conservatives, can and will backfire. That this doesn't matter to the neocons who hate their enemies with a special passion should tell us everything about the sorry state of the conservative movement in the age of Dubya.
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