Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Upside down world

How weird has the world become when Pat Buchanan, of all people, sounds like a voice of reason and sanity?

Let me put this in perspective. Before he was a failed Presidential candidate, television personality, or syndicated columnist, Buchanan was a speechwriter for and advisor to Nixon and Ford, and director of communications for Reagan. Buchanan has spoken out against immigration, abortion rights, and homosexuality. Buchanan has called Hitler and Francisco Franco great men, and has described Canada as a haven for terrorists. He once claimed that White House aide Vincent Foster and Hillary Clinton were spies for the Israeli intelligence agency Mossad.

The sort of quote I expect from Buchanan is more like this opinion on feminism: "Rail as they will about discrimination, women are simply not endowed by nature with the same measures of single-minded ambition and the will to succeed in the fiercely competitive world of Western capitalism." Another gem: "The real liberators of American women were the automobile, the supermarket, the shopping center, the dishwasher, the washer-dryer, the freezer."

And yet this guy has a more realistic and sensible perspective on Iraq than anyone in the Bush administration. What's up with that?

One particular comment caught my attention. In his comparison of current anti-war sentiment to that of the Vietnam era, Buchanan says:

"They did not succeed in breaking Nixon's presidency. He broke them. The crucial moment was his 'Great Silent Majority' speech of Nov. 3, 1969, which rallied Middle America behind his war policy. George W. Bush is approaching a similar moment of truth. And Cindy Sheehan may be the catalyst of crisis for the Bush presidency."

One thing about Dick Nixon is that he was a lot more shrewd and clever than people realize today. He was no ignorant buffoon; he was aware when he had a public relations problem and didn't lie to himself about his own popularity. He also had good speechwriters, Buchanan presumably among them. More than once, as in the example Buchanan cites, Nixon delivered speeches which had the effect of totally reframing the debate and saving his sorry criminal ass from public outcry yet again. No other president in my lifetime could shift the whole national discussion merely by the act of giving a speech the way Nixon could.

Can anyone imagine Bush doing the same?

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