Why I don’t like Buchanan

A reader sent an article with this note:

Pat Buchanan on America’s and the West’s problem

Too many dependants for the welfare state.

LA replies:

This is a typical piece of Buchanan writing, and as such I don’t like it. He just puts a bunch of negatives together. He has no point of view, except apparently the pleasure he gets from predicting the ruin of America.

He’s the opposite (or maybe the converse?) of the partisan Republicans I always criticize. They don’t seem to care about anything, except for the rush they experience from anticipating the fall of Obama and the next Republican victory. Buchanan doesn’t seem to care about anything, except the rush he experiences from predicting doom.

The paleocons, Buchananites, and Rockwellites are not patriots and lovers of the good who experience tragic pain at the loss of America and of the good it has represented; they are dead-enders who get a twisted pleasure from the fall of an America they despise.

- end of initial entry -

Roland D. writes:

I am a paleocon, yet your descriptions of paleocons does not describe me.

Yes, I believe we’re probably doomed—but I hope we’re not, and try to do my bit to hold the darkness at bay a little longer.

And, yes, I am a paleocon—I don’t think the War Between the States was a good idea, much less the Great War, WWII, either Iraq war, and anything in Afghanistan beyond a punitive expedition to destroy the place once and for all.

LA replies:

When I speak of paleocons, I speak of the people who are the publicly known representatives of that position, not of every individual who calls himself a paleocon.

N. writes:

Years ago a cranky right-wing guy told me this joke:

Q. If the Communists took over tomorrow, what would the John Birch Society do the next day?

A: Labor far into the night printing up pamphlets saying in great detail “We Told You So!”

The problem with Buchanan and the rest of the paleos at a minimum is they expend all their energy grousing, grumbling, and complaining, but never offer any solution that is even remotely feasible. In doing this they use up money and human talent that could be put to better use—such as has been outlined at VFR from time to time.

Sometimes Buchanan puts me in mind of some aging pensioner in a rocking chair on the front porch going on at great length on the wrongs of the world, only rising from his chair to shout at the neighborhood children to get off of his lawn.

Ray G. writes:

While I’m not the biggest Buchanan booster, I don’t have a visceral dislike for him either. So I think I should (gently) point out that in many of his columns and especially in his latest book (“Suicide of a Superpower”), he points out very methodically what policies we should try. For example:

  • Shrink the size of the state (the government). Let attrition from retirement reduce the number of government employees. Eliminate a few whole departments and agencies.

  • Cut immigration in half.

  • No amnesty for illegal aliens.

  • Stop the “birthright citizenship” loophole.

  • Make English the official language of the country.

  • Erect tariffs on incoming products from nations that put up barriers to our goods and services.

  • Stop the “nation building” wars.

  • Etc.

Daniel F. writes:

I somewhat disagree with you about Buchanan, although I don’t wish to be considered a defender of his, given some of the things he’s written about World War II. Nonetheless, what comes across to me from his writing is that he genuinely loves the America that existed before the advent of the Great Society and mourns its loss. I do detect in his writing some satisfaction about the downfall of the high-flying America of the ’80s and ’90s, but he still is moored in an attachment to America as it existed when he was young. This is quite a bit different from paleos who pine for the antebellum South or some other remote period of history long out of living memory, or Rothbardians who believe in some sort of libertarian utopia of the imagination.

LA replies:

Good point.

Mark Jaws writes:

I am going to disagree with you somewhat, and say that Pat Buchanan provides the very necessary first and second steps of the problem solving process. He identifies the problem and analyzes it. While he leaves identifying possible solutions and selecting and evaluating the best solutions to someone else, he is moving the ball somewhat forward. As an experienced and battle hardened conservative community organizer, I can tell you and your readers it is no easy ballgame to develop an action plan to defeat the left and to implement a solution - even at the local level. Pat Buchanan at least challenges the PC mantra of diversity being a strength and puts some scary thoughts into the minds of his readers. There is some value in that.

Max P. writes:

I could not disagree more with you on Pat Buchanan. I find him to be the most competent conservative in the public eye. If I were going to produce a debate between a liberal and a conservative, I’d choose Pat to represent our side. Buchanan has a quick mind, an encyclopedic grasp of history and is able to pull analogies from the past seeming at will to describe current conditions. He has the gift of being able to describe events from America’s past that make it seem like he was actually there. As one who reads his columns and books, and eagerly listens to his appearances on radio and TV, I find him to be a highly patriotic man who is upset at what he correctly sees as the loss of his country. To paraphrase him, he has witnessed the downfall of the greatest, most self-sufficient republic in history.

In my opinion Buchanan is the most prominent conservative thinker today who does not hide his views to please the powers that be. There might be others as smart as he, but no one with a presence on the national stage speaks his mind like Buchanan. Do you remember his speech at the 1992 Republican convention? Have you read his book Suicide of a Super Power where he included a chapter on the end of white America? That cost him his job at MSNBC. What other conservative on the national stage would speak or write that way? What other conservative is a better cultural warrior?

Buchanan is probably the only famous pundit around who goes against the grain on the three big issues that unite mainstream democrats and republicans; free trade, mass immigration and an interventionist foreign policy.

Buchanan was originally a free trader in the 1980s, but changed his views when he saw what it was doing to American jobs and industry. He was against NAFTA and is the only pundit who correctly acknowledges that America became the wealthiest nation on earth, not through free trade, but through a system of tariffs and other protectionist measures that we implemented from the founding to the mid twentieth century. On trade, I agree with Buchanan.

Buchanan has been an outspoken critic of third world immigration for over twenty years. Unlike conservatives who debate legal versus illegal immigration, Buchanan comes right out in calling America a European, Christian nation and opposes third world immigration, legal and illegal. On immigration, I agree with Buchanan.

Of course we all know Buchanan is not a big proponent of American intervention throughout the world. On this I agree too.

As for Buchanan not offering solutions, I suggest you read his columns and his books. He routinely calls for an immigration moratorium, a return to the trade policies we used before WW2, a dismantling of NATO, and closing most of the bases we have around the world. Additionally, he wants to reduce the size of the government by eliminating unnecessary cabinet positions such as Education. He also calls for an end to affirmative action and quotas. Now some might call these unreasonable, but I find them more reasonable than No Child Left Behind, Prescription Drug Benefits, and Obamacare.

Bottom line, I wish Buchanan were running for President again. I’d support him over Obama or Romney any day of the week.

LA replies:

I disagree with you about Buchanan’s grasp of history. I find his constant historical references to be show-off-y and specious rather than substantive and solid.

I appreciate the fact that many readers find Buchanan to be a useful and engaging writer. I do not.

May 16

Buck writes:

I do like Pat Buchanan. He is certainly a phenomenon. He’s difficult to turn away from, not exactly in the same way that car crashes are compelling, but something like that. I wonder what his effect has been on America, and what would be different if the car hadn’t crashed into the telephone pole. I used to seek to read him, but it’s been years. Now, I only stumble upon his writing, and I’m left with a vague sense of lost time. He’s been a culture warrior for sure, but what has he accomplished beyond keeping many peculiarly informed? It seems like he’s been there on the front lines forever, but after he peaked with his presidential candidacy, he seemed to be fading away even as he remained fully active. I love a lot of what he says and certainly the way he says it. He’s much more than Ann Coulter’s unauthorized mentor (sort of), but he doesn’t seem to have the brigades organized into a productive force. Seems like they’ve all gone home. It’s confusing or near impossible to articulate a certain value to his long body of work, other than to reference certain elements of it and to point to his actual history as a man in the room with the real figures of history. I don’t mean it in a “Forrest Gump” way, because I think that he is brilliant in a way. He’s actually been listened to by historical figures for decades. It’s just hard to put my finger on something solid that all of his efforts have accomplished. I’m often left to ponder the crazies that he’s uttered instead.

James R. writes:

I used to be a fan of his. In fact I was a fan of his before I was a conservative because I admired his sharp debating skills. I can’t say I admire him anymore, but I do think your post was a bit unfair. Not to be too pointed about it, but you don’t have a solution either. Neither do I. None of us do. We’re all in effect waiting for some sort of deus ex machina—that’s the only hope remaining for people in our fairly powerless position. Unfortunately, such a deus ex machina will be something bad. But few of us believe that, if things continue along, someday liberals and progressives will wake up and realize they were wrong, the general populace will rouse in a sustained manner against them (rather than episodic, inchoate risings that soon peter out as the initial sense of outrage subsides). Buchanan—and, for that matter, Steyn—both have solutions, they just don’t think any of them will be tried, are within the realm of the politically possible, until some sufficiently strong shock wrenches enough people from the death stupor they’re in.

The tragedy is that it will take such a thing, something that will, in and of itself, be a historical disaster (an epoch-ending disaster), and secondly the realization that when it comes, it will probably be too late. For example, the demography, especially in youth cohorts, already means that “the end” of being a majority in our own countries (throughout the West) is baked into the cake. Only Japan did it right—they’re demography is atrocious, but at least they refused to import a replacement civilization (a fact for which they’re increasingly hated by the academic left here, I can tell you). They’ll be able to remain a majority in their own country. Not us.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at May 15, 2012 05:16 PM | Send

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