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Jewish World Review Nov. 12, 1999/3 Kislev, 5760


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The Water Rat Is Now Pure Entertainment -- NOW THAT PAT BUCHANAN has quickly slipped into obscurity—not literally, of course, but as an active participant in the 2000 election, whether or not he receives the Reform Party nod—it’s once again humorous to read his many screeds and appreciate them for his unparalleled ability to turn a phrase. No one on the political scene comes close to his oratory; Jesse Jackson had the booming voice but his words were nursery-rhyme dumb, and Alan Keyes, also a gifted speaker, has wandered too far off this planet’s reservation to hear without cringing.

So Buchanan was in the city last week and took in the sights, specifically the “Sensation” show at the Brooklyn Museum. After putting a down payment on the elephant dung masterpiece—that Buke’s a nutty son of a gun—he issued the following statement last Friday. “It is dispirited, degrading, disgusting, sacrilegious, blasphemous and an insult to the mother of G-d. I am astonished that the people of New York are being required to pay for an exhibit by some decadent British artists whose objective is clearly to insult, wound and offend.”

Then, according to a Nov. 6 New York Times article, Buchanan, who thought the Mayor was sort of wimp in the “Sensation” controversy, offered some advice to a capo of possible Senate candidate Rudy Giuliani. “You tell Giuliani, ‘Look, Rudy, you’ve got to go all the way through with this.’” In a standard line, Buchanan then fantasized about one of his first actions as president of the United States: “When we get control of that National Endowment for the Arts, you shut it down, fumigate the building and put the I.R.S. in there.”

I’m in total agreement about shutting down the NEA, and I wish Bush and McCain would mention the same, at least in passing, but if you’re talking fumigation, Herr Buchanan, I’d think the IRS is long overdue. (There’s much to write about the Senate race in New York but I’ve mostly stalled so far, since I don’t believe, ultimately, either the Mayor or Hillary Clinton will actually run. She’ll drop out first. I’m being repetitive, but indulge me because this is the way it’ll play out: Early next year, still down in the polls, she’ll issue a mumbo jumbo statement about putting her own ambitions on hold to help the Democrats take back Congress and help her good friend Al Gore win the presidency. That will be very hard to stomach, but at least she’ll be out of our state. Then Rudy will be free to govern the city for another year, with money in the bank to win the gubernatorial contest of 2002.

Who will actually run for Moynihan’s seat? I suppose Andrew Cuomo or Bobby Kennedy for the Democrats and either Pete King or Rick Lazio on the GOP side. And so one of the nation’s most riveting elections becomes a yawn. I need more sleep anyway.)

And Chardonnay Buchanan hasn’t gotten so lazy and rich that he can’t land a quick and riotously nasty counterpunch. Reacting to Norman Podhoretz’s article in the Oct. 25 The Wall Street Journal, “Buchanan and Anti-Semitism,” Buchanan jabbed back almost by return mail, to use a phrase the out-of-time “populist” would appreciate. You can imagine what The Pod Sr. had to say about Buchanan; if not, go directly to Dirty Sanchez’s column. Mr. America First wrote in the “Letters to the Editor” of the Journal last Friday: “While clearing up all the debris [Podhoretz] left on your page would require a small book, let me respond to a few of his charges.” And he does, for some 20 paragraphs.

But my favorite part of the letter is the conclusion: “‘Good riddance to bad rubbish,’ Mr. Podhoretz says of my leaving the GOP. Decades ago, I was among those conservatives who urged that we throw open our doors and welcome to our ranks the ‘neo-conservatives’ fleeing the party of George McGovern. Now they have become our inquisitors, hurling anathemas at any who decline to embrace their revised dogmas. Non serviam, Norman.

“All my life I have labored in the vineyards of the Republican Party, and fought in more campaigns than ever did Mr. Podhoretz and his cohorts. But, today, I look upon that party the way a man looks on a beloved home in the old neighborhood where he grew up, as he sees squatters convert it into a crack house. You don’t know whether to burn it down in rage, or just drive away and never look back. I have decided to leave; and the sentiment I feel most on reading such as Norman’s 3,000-word rant against me, is liberation. Free at last.”

Now that the Buke’s take Lenora Fulani as a full-fledged campain bigwig, Heavens knows what other political zealot for the laughingstock Reform Party, it’s not so odd to read him evoking Martin Luther King. It wouldn’t surprise me at all if next week Buchanan opens a speech on the prairie, or in a DC crack house, with the words of Al Sharpton. He’s gone that loony.

The conservative writer David Horowitz uses the Buchanan candidacy as a vehicle to excoriate the Democratic Party’s use of racial politics to energize their base of voters. Writing in Jewish World Review on Nov. 9, Horowitz goes through the motions on Buchanan—that although he’s happy the pundit/pol left the GOP he could wind up electing a Democratic president and thus a liberal Supreme Court—and then segues into an important discussion of what Bill Clinton and Tom Daschle have been up to for the past two years.

First, Horowitz knocks off the easy target, the hysterical witch Maxine Waters, congresswoman from California: “The left-wing caucus in the Democratic Party is more protected than its Republican cousin and consequently even more aggressive. The lopsided bias of the nation’s media guarantees that a left-wing fanatic and all-weather race-hater like Rep. Maxine Waters…will have few restraints on her poison tongue... Waters, of course, lacks the innate good manners that have made Buchanan an effective combatant in the political wars and the potential leader of a third party.”

Horowitz is correct that not enough media attention has been paid to the racial demagoguery of Clinton and Daschle, and that Republicans must be prepared for the dirtiest kind of politics in the 2000 election, in every contest in every state with minority voters, from dogcatcher to president. The thought that the GOP could actually retain Congress and win the White House has aligned a man like Senate Minority Leader Daschle, who’s never displayed a liking for extreme dirty tricks and distortion (Clinton, of course, is another story), with a racist like Waters. This is going to be one hell of an ugly election.

One more word on Reform Party kooks. I’m not a fan of Ellen Goodman, The Boston Globe’s stand-in for Newsweek’s Eleanor Clift, but she had an hilarious line in her column of Nov. 7. She describes Donald Trump as “The egotist with the comb-over who reminds every woman of the ghastly first date she had after getting divorced.” I don’t imagine Trump will be seeing Goodman’s piece; no doubt the messenger would be ordered to clear out his (or, most likely, her) desk in 10 minutes flat.

JWR contributor "Mugger" -- aka Russ Smith -- is the editor-in-chief and publisher of New York Press. Send your comments to him by clicking here.

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©1999, Russ Smith