An interview with Buchanan

By Bill Barnwell
web posted June 26, 2000

On June 16th I had the pleasure of conducting a short interview with Pat Buchanan at one of his campaign fundraisers in Warren Michigan at the St. Stevens Decanski Serbian Church Hall. During the entire three-hour event I was reminded why I can't help but like the guy, no matter what my disagreements are with him. None of the candidates in this race can give the kind of rousing speech that Buchanan can, and not one presidential aspirant throughout this whole election cycle, including Mr. Straight Talk himself, John McCain, are as forthright as Buchanan is.

For those who read my work, you will recall that I had some extensive criticism towards the Buchanan campaign in a column I wrote over a month ago. They are criticisms I stand by. A campaign centered on trade and foreign policy isn't going to go very far, even though they are important issues that need to be addressed. And it really wouldn't hurt if Buchanan talked about lowering taxes as much as he talked about raising tariffs. Buchanan must address a much broader range of issues and do a better job of selling himself to the American public if he wants to have any impact this November.

I also have made it clear that I do not see eye to eye with Buchanan on every issue. For example, I have no desire to see tariffs raised to such dizzying levels as Pat does. I cringe every time I hear the words "campaign finance reform," and I will always defend the transnational corporations that protectionists love to bash. I think Pat's idea that corporations should say some kind of pledge of allegiance is strange to say the least, and I strongly disagree with his proposal to allow a national referendum.

Despite all this, I can't quite blame those who are considering voting for Buchanan instead of Bush. Bushies hate to hear it, but while Prince George is much preferable to the man who took the initiative to create the Internet, he is nothing fantastic and just offers the same wimpy Capitulating Conservatism that has been the trademark of the Republican Party for years. At no time was this more evident when Bush sanctioned the removal of Confederate plaques in the Texas high court. When I asked Buchanan what he thought of Bush's action he replied, "Bush is kowtowing to the NAACP and trying to appease the gods of political correctness." And Buchanan is dead on the money with that statement.

The Bush zealots who wrote me to defend this shameless act of appeasement in response to a June 9th column I wrote offered weak and silly rebuttals to try and prove that there was no contradiction in Bush's action and his earlier statements about the South Carolina flag. Bush claimed then that it was up to "the people of South Carolina" whether to remove the flag or not, he never said anything about the Governor just taking it down in the middle of the night in a move designed to pander to anti-white racists and hyper sensitive liberals. Bushies should just tell the truth and admit their man is a typical politician that speaks out of both sides of his mouth instead of mindlessly defending his every action.

Another issue Bush has been virtually silent about is gun rights. Instead he has tried desperately to distance himself from the NRA and other pro-gun groups to attract "moderate" (liberal) voters. In fairness, Buchanan hasn't said much on this issue lately either, as it would cut into his time to promote trade barriers. But when I asked what his comments were on the current state of the gun debate, Buchanan gave an honest reply one could only dream to hear from Bush: "The goal of the American left is licensing, registration, and confiscation of guns in this country. They use every national tragedy to slice into 2nd Amendment rights." When I asked Buchanan what he would say to Rosie O' Donnell upon becoming President, he replied: "Rosie, your bodyguard isn't going to loose his gun and you can get one too."

When I asked Pat to describe Bush's tax plan he labeled it "timid." Buchanan says that he will eventually introduce a tax plan that is simpler than Bush's and that will provide more tax relief. He explained to me that with the projected surplus and 1 trillion dollars his tariff revenues would bring in that he would eliminate the estate tax, significantly cut capital gains taxes and cap them at around 10% and push for a 17% flat tax with deductions for charitable giving. Buchanan says his goal would be for a single page tax code and a "quasi sales tax." While a flat tax and a single page tax code sound nice, Buchanan's tariffs would damage the U.S economy, and it is quite hard to look at a tariff as anything other than a tax with a different name. However, he is correct when he calls the Bush tax plan timid. As of right now, Harry Browne is the only guy advocating real tax relief.

On education, Buchanan's position is considerably different than Bush's. Unlike Bush, Buchanan would shut down the Department of Education. Buchanan says he wants to see schools run democratically at the local school board level. Bush claims he wants to see the same thing, only Bush has proposed various education programs that would give Washington more power, not less. While Buchanan would shut down the DOE, he says he would keep federal loans for college programs.

To anyone who has ever been to a Buchanan event, Pat's sense of humor and even personal charm, is always on display. It's ashamed that the smear artists in both parties and the press have painted Buchanan as some sort of angry fanatic. I have encountered and observed many politicians on all levels of government, and I would have to say that Buchanan is one of the most humorous and down to earth individuals in the political arena.

Not so say most conservatives who have done everything they can to paint Buchanan as a "bigot" and a "extremist." When I asked Buchanan what he thought of these politically correct conservatives he said, "These folks belong to the conservative wing of the national establishment and are just doing the liberal's dirty work for them." Of course, he is right. Conservatives have decided that they can prove that they really are "tolerant" and not "hateful" by denouncing Buchanan at every opportunity. This is nothing but an attempt to suck up to a left wing crowd that is always going to hate them, no matter how much they talk about "bigotry" and "divisiveness."

For political gain, these conservatives have gotten in bed with various left wing groups to smear Buchanan. One of the most frequent charges leveled against Buchanan is that of "anti-Semitism." Indeed, conservatives are even worse and more hysterical when it comes to the "anti-Semitism" bogeyman since they are so afraid of being called names by those on the left. In fact, the majority of the attacks upon Buchanan in the past five years have come from those on the right, not on the left.

Conservatives believe that if they all chant "Buchanan is a Nazi" in unison that they will score brownie points with those on the left who are always calling them Nazi's. Sorry folks, but it isn't going to work. You can talk about the Holocaust all you want and whine about "anti-Semitism" for hours, but you are never going to gain acceptance from those on the left. These conservatives harbor a Buchanan obsession. While they love to mock and ridicule Buchanan and just dismiss him as a "non-issue" this election season, they sure spend enough time talking about him and digging up every negative Buchanan article they can find. Just one question folks: If he is such a non-issue this year then why all the fuss?

To the 200-plus people who attended Buchanan's Friday fundraiser, Buchanan was anything but a non-issue. The crowd was mostly dominated by Serbian-Americans. Bragan Milojevic introduced Buchanan by stating, "This is the first time a candidate has come to the Serbian community. This man does not put himself above us. It is time to stop choosing between the lesser of two evils." The crowd rose to their feet with applause after hearing that statement. Instead of shamelessly pandering to this ethnic group, Buchanan won them over with his ideas and ideology. It wouldn't hurt for the Republican Party to do the same when trying to reach ethnic groups instead of running silly commercials entirely in Spanish and accommodating the NAACP's ridiculous demands.

Buchanan's speech focused largely upon his opposition to the air strikes against Serbia. Buchanan said, "This was an illegal, unjust aggressive war against a country that never threatened the United States." He reminded the non-Serbs in the audience that, "Our Serbian friends stood up against Hitler and stood with the United States." Buchanan labeled the KLA as "terrorists" and said that NATO has served its purpose with the fall of the Soviet Union. He described Bill Clinton's foreign policy as a tool designed to "Get Monica off of page on and onto page ten." He proceeded to criticize the unjust sanctions that were imposed on Serbia and that "If the NATO coalition could not overthrow Milosovic, how can old people and starving children do it"? Buchanan said upon taking the presidency he would lift those sanctions and "right that wrong" against the Serbian people.

Buchanan told the crowd that "After the Cold War our foreign policy elites found themselves out of a job. It was time for Henry Kissenger and the boys to go back home to Arizona, but they want to run the world and impose their will everywhere." Buchanan then blasted UN, foreign aid, Janet Reno, federal judges and cultural decay in a speech that brought the crowd to their feet several times. He then hit familiar themes of immigration reform and stated that; "Our government doesn't have the guts to defend our borders, even though they are running around trying to draw everyone else's borders." Buchanan said the Republican Party avoids raising the issue of immigration because, "They are afraid the politically correct will call them names."

Buchanan then asked the crowd to attend the Reform Party convention in Long Beach in August and to "bring a pair of boxing gloves." The Reform Party Old Guard that recently invited Pat into their party is now hysterical and is threatening to nominate nobody because of Buchanan's "social positions." This basically comes down to two issues, one being abortion and the second being gay rights. The Old Guard is acting as if they had no idea that Buchanan was pro-life and against the homosexual agenda. Now the fact comes out that they were never interested in Buchanan as a candidate. The only thing they were interested was using him because of his name recognition to obtain at least 5% of the vote to keep them on the ballot for next time.

Upon leaving, I had one more question for Buchanan. I asked him what he had to say to all the people who say he doesn't have a chance. His reply was, "Get me in those debates and we shall see." The idea that the debates will cause Buchanan's poll numbers to shoot up is probably more wishful thinking then anything else. If the debates chose the winner, Alan Keyes would be the Republican nominee and Gary Bauer would have been the runner up.

But I have no doubt that Buchanan would carry every debate and that is why the Bushies are so afraid to have Pat participate. The Reform Party nominee belongs in those debates. The Reform Party is the only party besides the Republican and Democratic Parties that receive federal matching funds for their nominee (another taxpayer funded program that should be abolished). Instead, the debate commission has decided it will admit candidates in the debate only if they reach 15% in the polls, which can only happen if the same news organizations that are doing the polling give you adequate press coverage.

Despite the jokes from arrogant Republicans that Buchanan is a non-player this year, inside they know Buchanan poses a threat to their anointed heir to the Presidency. They remind us that Buchanan is a sore loser because he walked away from the Republican Party in search of greener pastures. But the truth is Buchanan never owed anything to the Republican Party. After years of devout loyalty to the party, all he ever got in return was slander and smears attributed to him by his one-time comrades in the GOP. The sad truth is that the Republican Party has become a Clintonized party that is obsessed with polling and compromise. It is uncertain if it will ever develop any kind of backbone. One can only hope Bush will turn that around upon being elected, but looking at recent history, I'm not going to get my hopes up.

Bill Barnwell writes a weekly column for and is co-editor in chief of

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