Monday, November 19, 2012

Pat Buchanan: Unreconstructed Nixonite

     Will the GOP actually agree to do something meaningful on immigration reform? Let's hope so. But you have to be skeptical. True, Lindsay Graham says he wants to. He also says it's time for the GOP to stop shooting itself in the foot. Yet, at the end of the day, he's been for it before and then pulled back.

      If you want to see where the GOP is headed, it seems to me you should listen to Pat Buchanan. He probably gives you a much better look into the GOP soul. As Zizek always tells us "woman is the symptom of man" and likewise Buchana is the symptom of the Republican party.  Buchanan is a totally unreconstructed man of Nixon. He's got a very keen political mind as Nixon himself. However his political mind is also totally cynical.

     For Zizek on woman as the symptom of man see here.

     Buchanan understands the GOP problem and has written about it often.

     "After its second defeat at the hands of Barack Obama, under whom unemployment has never been lower than the day George W. Bush left office, the Republican Party has at last awakened to its existential crisis."

     "Eighteen states have voted Democratic in six straight elections. Among the six are four of our most populous: New York, Pennsylvania, Illinois and California. And Obama has now won two of the three remaining mega-states, Ohio and Florida, twice."

     "Only Texas remains secure—for now."

     "At the presidential level, the Republican Party is at death’s door."

      The GOP is doing more than whistling past the graveyard says Pat:

      "Again it needs be said. When the country looks like California demographically, it will look like California politically. Republicans are not whistling past the graveyard. They are right at the entrance."

       It's not clear what he thinks the GOP should do. He thins that immigration reform would be deadly to them. As he sees it, the demographic shift it the whole problem. If the GOP agrees to reform it will only intensify it's own destruction. After all, the Republican party of Nixon and Reagan was the white man's party. Buchanan is not shy in saying this.

      Buchanan, of course, was one there at the beginning when the Republican party took over and dominated national politics, winning 5 out of 6 elections, 4 of them with at least 41 states and 437 electoral college and two twin 49-1 victories in 1972 and 1984

    . Back then what the GOP was building-what Nixon dreamed of-was the "New Majority." It had also been variously called the Silent Majority. For that matter, the Religious Right phrase that begun at the time of Reagan-the Moral Majority-owes something to Nixon too.

     And Buchanan. The phrase New Majority was his. Buchanan was always a great fit for Nixon.

     "Patrick J. Buchanan stood beside a window in Chicago’s Conrad Hilton hotel during the 1968 Democratic convention and looked over the panorama of dissent raging below. At about two in the morning, the phone rang—it was Nixon. “Buchanan, what is happening there?”

     “I said, ‘Listen’,” Buchanan recalls, then pantomimes how he stuck the phone out the hotel window. “All you could hear was ‘F-you Daley! F-you Daley!’”

     “That’s what’s going on,” he told Nixon, and hung up. He smiled taking it in."

       Back then, it was the Democrats into the abyss. To be sure, even during their time in the Presidential wilderness, they remained in some sense the majority party they had been since FDR. The GOP never entirely turned this around. The Dems held onto the House for 40 years, from 1954-1994, right through all the Republican landslides and the two 49-1 losses.

      Yes, the GOP finally took back Congress in 1994. By then, the Democrats had gotten back into the White House. As Buchanan has pointed out, the Dems have all these big states they win every election. When will you see New York, Massachusetts, California, or Illinois vote GOP again-as they did in 1980?

      This is enough to show the futility in Romney's wistfulness during the campaign about 2012 being a repeat of 1980. It was just Republican nostalgia.

      Another great moment was when Bill Rusher asked Pat what is real alliance is with-conservatives or Nixon? Nixon was never trusted by the conservatives, least of all Rusher:

      "But he is not just a media figure, either. In that time of tumult before the 1968 election, National Review publisher Bill Rusher asked Pat, “Are you Nixon’s ambassador to the conservatives, or are you our ambassador to Nixon?” He replied, “I’m Nixon’s.” As a journalist, political operative, candidate, and thinker, Buchanan is above all a man of Nixon’s New Majority—something much broader and larger than the conservative movement has ever been."

      He's a true Nixonite. One of the few left. The only other one I can think of is G. Gordon Liddy. Nixon was a great political thinker, a great political cynic. He was the one to make Kevin Phillips "Emerging Republican Majority" come true. Interestingly, while Phillips has long since left his party behind on so many substantive economic issues, he remains somewhat loyal to Nixon-he was never a Reaganite. Nixon had the ability to inspire fierce loyalty in certain foot soldiers.

    I just finished a book about Nixon-Allen J. Matusow's "The Nixon Economy." It's very interesting. Nixon actually didn't come in wanting to spend time on economic issues. The Nixon strategy was that the GOP would come back via the Social Issue-America's fatigue with Vietnam. civil unrest, riots in the inner cities, young social protesters.

    Nixon's basic thought on the economy is that it hurts the GOP. Basically the Democrats win on the Economic Issue. So the GOP had to neutralize it and win on the Social Issue.

    Nixon was cynical through and through. I don't even mean that entirely insultingly. It's impressive in its own way. In recent years, there have been Democrats and liberals who even look back on him rather fondly. After all, he ended the draft, brought down the voting age to 18, started federal agencies on the environment and affirmative action and advocated a healthcare bill that went further than ObamaCare. To be sure, it was more the time than the man, in reality.

    Obama does actually subscribe-even if many liberals have failed to see it-to be a "transformational President" much like Nixon was-and especially Reagan was. Obama sees it as we've had a 30 year Rightward swing and going back isn't going to happen over night. In those terms his first term looks a lot more impressive than it does at first glance.

    How cynical is Buchanan? Recall the book he wrote that finally got him banned from MSNBC-a place he had managed to last at much longer than you would have thought being a house conservative.

   In his latest book, though, he again wrote some racist things that he refused to apologize for. So he's gone. Yet for me what was really interesting were interviews he gave in the aftermath. He was railing again against affirmative action. Yet, the interviewer failed to remind him that he wrote the Philadelphia Plan.

   He's more or less run a cottage industry against the very thing-affirmative action-that he himself invented. It's like being God and the devil at once. Impressive cynicism. To both rail against evil and be the creator at the same time.

  I guess Mitt Romney did something like this too in his schizophrenic campaign where he ran against RomneyCare while also trying to coax back the soccer moms by saying you have to trust him-after all, he's a compassionate guy: he did pass RomneyCare.

  What is the future of the GOP? You have much more sophisticated conservatives out there who know how to play the media game better and are saying the right things. The GOP should be more Hispanic friendly, maybe they should support some reform, maybe even amnesty.

   Yet I think that for the modern conservative Republican party, Pat Buchanan is-in Zizkean terms-its true symptom.

   In its heart of hearts, I doubt the GOP gets it. I doubt they will change enough or at most it will just be surface. The whole rationale of the modern GOP is in jeopardy-a bullwark for American whites. It's tough to see how that won't be tragic.



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