You inspire me to write to my friends, since I rarely think that I’m up to VFR.
Your entry on Pat Buchanan prompted this.
I cut my teeth on Pat Buchanan. The first time that I came across Pat was on his and Tom Braden’s radio talk show Buchanan-Braden Program (on my brand new, never seen before and never even heard of Mura hi stepper HI-3 (seventh photo down, far left) that I bought from a Hi-Fi geek before anyone new what a walkman was.
The sound that came out of this FM stereo radio through the new tiny head phones was amazing. I got such a kick out of walking around with them on—people asking what is that? I’d put the phones on their ears and watch the reaction, then fight to get them back. I’m such a cutting edge techno stud (anyone can tell you). I was hooked on Pat and stopped listening to music for those three hours each day. That was the late 1970s (?) when Braden was not yet brain dead, and could still manage an argument against Pat, but he soon withered away. It was sad. Braden was, by the way, the father of the family and author of the book Eight is Enough that the TV show was based on. I was still an air-head back then (back to the future?), but I was mesmerized by Pat’s incisive manner, humor and his prodigious grasp of history, and his personal history with Nixon and later with Reagan.
I’m not much for hero worship, but after reading his 1988 book, Right from the Beginning, which chronicled his growing up in the small Southern town of Washington DC, I identified with his youth in a tiny way. I grew up a bicycle ride across the Potomac ten years after and knew the setting well. Little had changed before the late ’60s.
I once found myself a few rows behind him in a theater. I turned to my date (that’s right, smart ass—I had a date) when I saw him, and pointed. I only whispered his name, but, he turned and looked right at me. He was 5 or 6 rows forward, across the isle and to the right. No one else reacted. No way he heard me. Freaked me out. I felt foolish, and decided not to YELL SOMETHING in the quiet theater. He must have sensed a moron-is-lurking, because he was already gone when the movie ended. I never saw him leave. I felt terrible, as if I had caused him to leave before the end of the movie just so he could avoid me. I’m sure that I imagined that, he probably had to do that regularly. But, still, I’d like to think that I made him leave.
I can’t recall the movie, but I remember that it was topical, something about the Sandinistas. That’s why we were there.
Anyhow, I began to read his columns and find him on radio and TV. He’s a great writer and original thinker. Everyone knows that he’s funny, good natured, and quick to laugh. Few make their point as well as he does.
I just saw this 1986 quote of his:
Whether President Reagan has charted a new course that will set our compass for decades—or whether history will see him as the conservative interruption in a process of inexorable national decline—is yet to be determined.
I’ve been saying something similar, but to me, there’s no doubt: it is inexorable national decline.
Pat hasn’t changed much. It seems that so much has changed around him, that he’s been forced to address issues in a new context that he won’t accept. I hate to think of him as a dinosaur. I don’t seek him out or read him much anymore, unless I’m linked to something or I stumble across him. I thought that I understood him.
Somewhere, a while back, he lost me, maybe during the theatrical Crossfire years (for aesthetic reasons?). He’s still one of the best, but what I used to see as risk-taking or daring now seems alien or fringe. He’s beyond paleocon, and now lives in a world without context. He creates bizarre parallels between events that have none. The first time that he said something bizarre, I just ignored it as if he didn’t really say it or I didn’t understand what he meant. Too strange. He said that it was immoral for Truman to have dropped the bomb on Hiroshima and that we shouldn’t have done it (after six months of fire-bombing that brought no surrender?), and the same, three days later on Nagasaki (after the one on Hiroshima still brought no surrender?). As if the predicted million-plus Americans that would have died in the land invasion was moral? Recently he called it terrorism. Talk about lack of context. Also, he begins to sound like a modern liberal, changing the definition of a word to suite his purpose.
I can’t bring myself to call him a whack-job, but he has run off the rails. His irrational disdain of Israel prohibits his grasp of fact, to the extent that he inverts nearly everything. I have no idea what’s wrong with him. I could parse his column, but it would be too painful. I’d like to try to remember him as right from the beginning.
In Right From the Beginning Pat tells of himself and his brothers getting into a fist fight with DC cops, being tossed into a paddy wagon and spending the night in jail. His dad made all of the brothers hit the heavy bag a hundred times every day. They had to learn how to fight.
What does he want Israel to do?