It's time to stop patting Patrick J. Buchanan on the head and dismissing him as a good-hearted eccentric. It's time to start taking this man seriously as a political threat.
Buchanan has singled me out among his critics because I was the first presidential candidate to blow the whistle on his latest revisionist rantings. While it took other Republican presidential candidates four days to locate their sense of outrage--and George W. Bush has yet to locate his--it took me only minutes to issue my denunciation of him.
The argument I am having with Buchanan is not an academic exercise. Yes, it began with the publication of his recent book, but the dispute quickly moved to the heart of public life. Buchanan is now arguing his position in the context of a presidential campaign. He not only is seeking to rewrite history but to have his shabby and dangerous views ratified by popular vote.
Buchanan winks at barbarism in his new book. There is no other way to describe his views. Buchanan argues that we should have ignored Hitler's rampage to Eastern Europe during World War II. Hitler meant us no harm, Buchanan says. The same man who argued forcefully--and in my opinion correctly--that we should not give an inch during the Cold War is now saying in effect that Hitler should have been appeased.
We have no choice but to assume that had Buchanan been president, he would have allowed Hitler to wage uncontested war on defenseless civilian populations. We must also assume that Buchanan would have conducted his policy with the belief that Hitler had no ill-will toward the United States. He would have been our version of Neville Chamberlain.
To echo the words of a noted historian, Buchanan's ideas are so wrong that a person who sets out to correct them doesn't know where to start. Besides the fact that Hitler declared war on us--an interesting way to conduct a hands-off policy--he ordered the creation of a fleet of warships and bombers that would allow him to take his war to America's cities. Surely Buchanan doesn't believe that Hitler's Amerika bomber was envisioned for any other reason than to slaughter the U.S. population. Surely he is aware of the damage U-boats did to U.S. shipping immediately off our East Coast.
However, there is a larger issue at work here. Buchanan has enjoyed a long psychic friendship with Hitler, whom he has called "an individual of great courage, a soldier's soldier and a leader steeped in the history of Europe." He argues that the gas chambers at Hitler's Treblinka could not have actually killed Jews. He has gone to great lengths attempting to technically clear war criminals. And he has complained that Jews are obsessed with the Holocaust. Yes, the man who praises Hitler for being "steeped in the history of Europe" accuses Jews who are steeped in their history of engaging in "group fantasies of martyrdom."
Public discourse in this country doesn't get any uglier than that.
Yet Buchanan tries. He also warns his followers that the United States is controlled by Jews, especially regarding foreign policy. On slow days, he attacks gays, immigrants, welfare recipients, even Zulus. When cornered, he says he's misunderstood.
While he has not taught us anything about history, Buchanan has once again told us a great deal about himself. It's time the United States learned the lesson of who Patrick J. Buchanan really is.
The fact is, he has a deadly serious purpose. Buchanan is rewriting history and spreading fear for one purpose: To gain political power. That makes him a very dangerous man.
Unfortunately, Buchanan is very much with us. He has remained a major media presence throughout these scandals, and he has high hopes of hijacking the Reform Party presidential nomination. He has struck out with the Republican Party and is now grasping desperately for a new political vehicle--and the $12 million in campaign funds that comes with it.
I will do all in my power to see that this hijacking does not succeed. Nor will I stand idly by as Buchanan promotes his dangerous ideas. Others have already fallen silent, but silence is not an option. There is far too much at stake.