Patrick Joseph "Pat" Buchanan (born November 2, 1938) is an American conservative political commentator, author, syndicated columnist, politician and broadcaster. Buchanan was a senior adviser to American Presidents Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, and Ronald Reagan, and was an original host on CNN's Crossfire. He sought the Republican presidential nomination in 1992 and 1996. He ran on the Reform Party ticket in the 2000 presidential election.
He co-founded The American Conservative magazine and launched a foundation named The American Cause. He has been published in Human Events, National Review, The Nation and Rolling Stone. He is currently a political commentator on the MSNBC cable network including the show Morning Joe and a regular on The McLaughlin Group.Contents.
Buchanan was born in Washington, D.C., a son of William Baldwin Buchanan (Virginia, August 15, 1905 – Washington, D.C., January 1988), a partner in an accounting firm, and his wife Catherine Elizabeth (Crum) Buchanan (Charleroi, Washington County, Pennsylvania, December 23, 1911 – Oakton, Fairfax County, Virginia, September 18, 1995), a nurse and a homemaker. Buchanan had six brothers (Brian, Henry, James, John, Thomas, and William Jr.) and two sisters (Kathleen Theresa and Angela Marie, nicknamed Bay). Bay served as U.S. Treasurer under Ronald Reagan. Buchanan has English, German, Scots Irish, and Irish ancestry. He had a great-grandfather who fought in the American Civil War in the Confederate Army. He is a member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans and admires Robert E. Lee.
Buchanan was baptized into the Catholic Church and studied at Blessed Sacrament School and Jesuit-run Gonzaga College High School. As a student at Georgetown University, he was in ROTC, but did not complete the program. He received his draft notice after he graduated in 1960. However, the District of Columbia draft board exempted Buchanan from military service due to reactive arthritis, classifying him as 4-F. He received a master's degree in journalism from Columbia in 1962, writing his thesis on the expanding trade between Canada and Cuba. Buchanan married White House staffer Shelley Ann Scarney in 1971.
St. Louis Globe-Democrat Editorial Writer
Buchanan joined the St. Louis Globe-Democrat at age 23. The first year of the United States embargo against Cuba in 1961, Canada-Cuba trade tripled. The Globe-Democrat published a rewrite of Buchanan's Columbia master's project under the eight-column banner "Canada sells to Red Cuba - And Prospers" eight weeks after Buchanan started at the paper. According to Buchanan's memoir Right from the Beginning, this article was a career milestone. However, Buchanan later said the embargo strengthened the communist regime and he turned against it. Buchanan was promoted to assistant editorial page editor in 1964 and supported Barry Goldwater's presidential campaign. However, the Globe-Democrat did not endorse Goldwater and Buchanan speculated there was a clandestine agreement between the paper and President Lyndon B. Johnson. Buchanan recalled: "The conservative movement has always advanced from its defeats. . . I can't think of a single conservative who was sorry about the Goldwater campaign." According to the foreword (written by Pat Buchanan) in the most recent edition of Conscience of a Conservative, Buchanan was a member of the Young Americans for Freedom, and wrote press releases for that organization. He served as an executive assistant in the Nixon, Mudge, Rose, Guthrie, Alexander, and Mitchell law offices in New York City in 1965.
Work for the Nixon White House
The next year, he was the first adviser hired to Nixon's presidential campaign; he worked primarily as an opposition researcher. For his speeches aimed at dedicated supporters, he was soon nicknamed "Mr. Inside."
Buchanan traveled with Nixon throughout the campaigns of 1966 and 1968. He made a tour of Western Europe, Africa, and in the immediate aftermath of the Six-Day War, the Middle East. When Nixon took the Oval Office in 1969, Buchanan worked as a White House adviser and speechwriter for Nixon and vice president Spiro Agnew. Buchanan coined the phrase "Silent Majority" and helped shape the strategy that drew millions of Democrats to Nixon; in a 1972 memo he suggested the White House "should move to re-capture the anti-Establishment tradition or theme in American politics." His daily duties included developing political strategy, publishing the President's Daily News Summary, and preparing briefing books for news conferences. He accompanied Nixon on his trip to China in 1972 and the summit in Moscow, Yalta, and Minsk in 1974. He suggested that Nixon label Democratic opponent George McGovern as an extremist and burn the White House tapes.
Buchanan remained as a special assistant to Nixon through the final days of the Watergate Scandal. He was not accused of wrongdoing, though some mistakenly suspected him as Deep Throat. When the actual identity of the press leak was revealed as FBI Associate Director Mark Felt in 2005, Buchanan called him "sneaky," "dishonest," and "criminal."Due to his role in the Nixon campaign's "Attack Group," Buchanan appeared before the Senate Watergate Committee on September 26, 1973. He told the panel:“ The mandate that the American people gave to this president and his administration cannot and will not be frustrated or repealed or overthrown as a consequence of the incumbent tragedy.”
When Nixon resigned in 1974, Buchanan briefly stayed on as special assistant under incoming President Gerald Ford. Chief of Staff Alexander Haig approved Buchanan's appointment as ambassador to South Africa, but Ford refused it.
Buchanan remarked about Watergate:“ The lost opportunity to move against the political forces frustrating the expressed national will ... To effect a political counterrevolution in the capital — ... there is no substitute for a principled and dedicated man of the Right in the Oval Office.”
Long after his resignation, Nixon called Buchanan a confidant and said he was neither an anti-Semite nor a "hater," but a "decent, patriotic American." Nixon said Buchanan had "some strong views," such as his, "isolationist" foreign policy, with which he disagreed. While Nixon did not think Buchanan should become president, he said the commentator "should be heard."
Buchanan returned to his column and began regular appearances as a broadcast host and political commentator. He co-hosted a three-hour daily radio show with liberal columnist Tom Braden, called the Buchanan–Braden Program. He delivered daily commentaries on NBC radio from 1978 to 1984. Buchanan started his TV career as a regular on The McLaughlin Group and CNN's Crossfire (inspired by Buchanan-Braden) and The Capital Gang, making him nationally recognizable. His several stints on Crossfire occurred between 1982 and 1999; his sparring partners included Braden, Michael Kinsley, Juan Williams, and Bill Press.
Buchanan is a regular panelist on the McLaughlin Group. He appears most Sundays alongside John McLaughlin, the liberal Newsweek journalist Eleanor Clift and neo-conservative Monica Crowley.
Work for the Reagan White House
Buchanan served as White House Communications Director from 1985 to 1987. To help garner opposition to Nicaragua's Sandinista government and support of the opposing rebels he coined the phrase I'm a contra too Buchanan supported President Reagan's plan to visit a German military cemetery at Bitburg in 1985, where among buried Wehrmacht soldiers, were 48 buried Waffen SS members. Over the vocal objections of Jewish groups, the trip went through. In an interview, author Elie Wiesel described attending a White House meeting of Jewish leaders about the trip:“ The only one really defending the trip, was Pat Buchanan, saying, 'We cannot give the perception of the President being subjected to Jewish pressure.'”
Buchanan accused Wiesel of fabricating the story in an ABC interview in 1992:“ I didn't say it and Elie Wiesel wasn't even in the meeting. [...] that meeting was held three weeks before the Bitburg summit was held. If I had said that, it would have been out of there within hours and on the news.”
In a speech to the National Religious Broadcasters in 1986, Buchanan said about the "Reagan Revolution,"“ 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. ”
A year later, he remarked "the greatest vacuum in American politics is to the right of Ronald Reagan."While her brother was working for Reagan, Bay Buchanan started a "Buchanan for President" movement in June 1986. She said the conservative movement needed a leader, but Buchanan was initially ambivalent. After leaving the White House, he returned to his column and Crossfire. Out of respect for Jack Kemp he sat out the 1988 race, although Kemp later became his adversary.
1992 presidential primaries
In 1990, Buchanan published a newsletter called Patrick J. Buchanan: From the Right; it sent subscribers a bumper sticker reading: "Read Our Lips! No new taxes."
In 1992, Buchanan explained his reasons for challenging the incumbent, President George H. W. Bush:“ If the country wants to go in a liberal direction, if the country wants to go in the direction of [Democrats] George Mitchell and Tom Foley, it doesn't bother me as long as I've made the best case I can. What I can't stand are the back-room deals. They're all in on it, the insider game, the establishment game — this is what we're running against.”
He ran on a platform of immigration reduction, and social conservatism, including opposition to multiculturalism, abortion, and gay rights. Buchanan seriously challenged Bush (whose popularity was waning) when he won 38 percent of the seminal New Hampshire primary. In the primary elections, Buchanan garnered three million total votes.
Buchanan later threw his support behind Bush, and delivered a keynote address at the 1992 Republican National Convention, which became known as the culture war speech, in which he described "a religious war going on in our country for the soul of America." In the speech, he said of Bill and Hillary Clinton:“ The agenda Clinton & Clinton would impose on America — abortion on demand, a litmus test for the Supreme Court, homosexual rights, discrimination against religious schools, women in combat units — that's change, all right. But it is not the kind of change America needs. It is not the kind of change America wants. And it is not the kind of change we can abide in a nation we still call God's country.”
The enthusiastic applause he received prompted his detractors to claim that the speech alienated moderates from the Bush/Quayle ticket.
Off the campaign trail
Buchanan returned to his column and Crossfire. To promote the principles of federalism, traditional values, and anti-intervention, he founded The American Cause, a conservative educational foundation in 1993. Bay Buchanan serves as the Vienna, Virginia-based foundation's president and Pat is its chairman.
Buchanan returned to radio as host of Buchanan and Company, a three-hour talk show for Mutual Broadcasting System on July 5, 1993. It pitted him against liberal co-hosts, including Barry Lynn, Bob Beckel, and Chris Matthews, in a time slot opposite Rush Limbaugh's show. To launch his 1996 campaign, Buchanan left the program on March 20, 1995.
1996 presidential primaries
1996 saw Buchanan's most impressive attempt to win the Republican nomination. With a Democratic President (Bill Clinton) seeking re-election, there was no incumbent Republican with a lock on the ticket. Indeed, with defeated President George H. W. Bush having made clear he was not interested in re-gaining the office, the closest the party had to a front-runner was the Senate Majority leader Sen. Robert Dole of Kansas, who was considered to have many weaknesses. Buchanan sought the Republican nomination from Dole's right, voicing his opposition to the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Other candidates for the nomination included Sen. Phil Gramm of Texas, former Tennessee Governor Lamar Alexander and the multi-millionaire publisher Steve Forbes.
In February, the liberal Center for Public Integrity issued a report claiming Buchanan's presidential campaign co-chairman, Larry Pratt, appeared at two meetings organized by white supremacist and militia leaders. Pratt denied any tie to racism, calling the report an orchestrated smear before the New Hampshire primary. Buchanan told the Manchester Union Leader he believed Pratt. Pratt took a leave of absence "to answer these charges," "so as not to have distraction in the campaign."
Buchanan defeated Senator Bob Dole by about 3,000 votes to win the February New Hampshire primary, getting his campaign off to an energetic start. He went on to win three more states (Alaska, Missouri and Louisiana), and finished only slightly behind Dole in the Iowa caucus. His insurgent campaign used his soaring rhetoric to mobilize grass-roots right wing opinion against what he saw as the bland Washington establishment (personified by Dole) which he believed had controlled the party for years. At a rally later in Nashua, he said:“ We shocked them in Alaska. Stunned them in Louisiana. Stunned them in Iowa. They are in a terminal panic. They hear the shouts of the peasants from over the hill. All the knights and barons will be riding into the castle pulling up the drawbridge in a minute. All the peasants are coming with pitchforks. We're going to take this over the top.”
While campaigning, Buchanan used a slogan with his supporters, "The peasants are coming with pitchforks", occasionally appearing with a prop pitchfork.
In the Super Tuesday primaries, however, Dole defeated Buchanan by large margins. Having collected only twenty one percent of the total votes in Republican primaries, Buchanan suspended his campaign in March. He declared however that If Dole were to choose a pro-choice running mate, he would run as the U.S. Taxpayers Party (now Constitution Party) candidate. However, Dole chose Jack Kemp and he received Buchanan's endorsement. After the 1996 campaign, Buchanan returned to his column and Crossfire. He also began a series of books with 1998's The Great Betrayal.
2000 presidential campaign
Buchanan announced his departure from the Republican Party in October 1999, disparaging them (along with the Democrats) as a "beltway party." He sought the nomination of the Reform Party. Many reformers backed Iowa physicist John Hagelin, whose platform was based on transcendental meditation. Party founder Ross Perot did not endorse a candidate, but his former running-mate Pat Choate endorsed Buchanan.
Supporters of Hagelin charged the results of the party's open primary, which favored Buchanan by a wide margin, were "tainted." The Reform Party divisions led to dual conventions being held simultaneously in separate areas of the Long Beach Convention Center complex. Both conventions' delegates ignored the primary ballots and voted to nominate their presidential candidates from the floor, similar to the Democratic and Republican conventions. One convention nominated Buchanan while the other backed Hagelin, with each camp claiming to be the legitimate Reform Party.
Ultimately, when the Federal Elections Commission ruled Buchanan was to receive ballot status as the Reform candidate, as well as about $12.6 million in federal campaign funds secured by Perot's showing in the 1996 election, Buchanan won the nomination. In his acceptance speech, Buchanan proposed U.S. withdrawal from the United Nations and expelling the U.N. from New York, abolishing the Internal Revenue Service, Department of Education, Department of Energy, Department of Housing and Urban Development, taxes on inheritance and capital gains, and affirmative action programs.
As his running mate, Buchanan chose African-American activist and retired teacher from Los Angeles, Ezola B. Foster. Buchanan was supported in this election run by future Socialist Party USA presidential candidate Brian Moore, who said in 2008 he supported Buchanan in 2000 because "he was for fair trade over free trade. He had some progressive positions that I thought would be helpful to the common man." On August 19, the New York Right to Life Party, in convention, chose Buchanan as their nominee, with 90% of the districts voting for him.
In the 2000 presidential election, Buchanan finished fourth with 449,895 votes, 0.4% of the popular vote. (Hagelin garnered 0.1 percent as the Natural Law candidate.) In Palm Beach County, Florida, Buchanan received 3,407 votes — which some saw as inconsistent with Palm Beach County's liberal leanings, its large Jewish population and his showing in the rest of the state. As a result of the county's now-infamous "butterfly ballot", he is suspected to have gained thousands of inadvertent votes. Bush spokesman Ari Fleischer stated, "Palm Beach county is a Pat Buchanan stronghold and that's why Pat Buchanan received 3,407 votes there." However, Reform Party officials strongly disagreed, estimating the number of supporters in the county at between 400 and 500. Appearing on The Today Show, Buchanan said:“ When I took one look at that ballot on Election Night. . . it's very easy for me to see how someone could have voted for me in the belief they voted for Al Gore.”
Some observers said his campaign was aimed to spread his message beyond his white base, while his views had not changed.
Following the 2000 election, Reformers urged Buchanan to take an active role within the party. Buchanan declined, though he did attend their 2001 convention. In the next few years, he identified himself as a political independent, choosing not to align himself with what he viewed as the neo-conservative Republican party leadership. Prior to the 2004 election, Buchanan announced he once again identified himself as a Republican, declared that he had no interest in ever running for president again, and reluctantly endorsed Bush's 2004 re-election, writing:“ Bush is right on taxes, judges, sovereignty, and values. Kerry is right on nothing. ”
Return to private life
Although CNN decided not to take him back, Buchanan's column resumed. A longer variation of the Crossfire format was aired by MSNBC as Buchanan and Press on July 15, 2002, reuniting Buchanan and Press. Billed as "the smartest hour on television", Buchanan and Press featured the duo interviewing guests and sparring about the top news stories. As the Iraq War loomed, Buchanan and Press toned down their rivalry, as they both opposed the invasion. Press claims they were the first cable hosts to discuss the planned attack. MSNBC Editor-in-Chief Jerry Nachman once jokingly lamented this unusual situation, saying:“ So the point is why does only Fox [News Channel] get this? At least, we work at the perfect place, the place that's fiercely independent. We try to have balance by putting you two guys together and then this Stockholm syndrome love fest set in between the two of you, and we no longer even have robust debate. ”
Just hours after his talk show debuted, Buchanan was a guest on the premiere of MSNBC's ill-fated Donahue program. Host Phil Donahue and Buchanan debated the separation of church and state. Buchanan called Donahue "dictatorial" and teased that the host got his job through affirmative action.
After MSNBC President Eric Sorenson canceled Buchanan and Press on November 26, 2003, Buchanan stayed at MSNBC as a political analyst. He regularly appears on the network's talk shows. He occasionally filled in on the nightly show Scarborough Country during its run on MSNBC. Buchanan is now a frequent guest and co-host of Morning Joe as well as Hardball, 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, and The Rachel Maddow Show.
In September 2009, MSNBC removed a Buchanan opinion column from its website after receiving complaints from Jewish organizations. Buchanan had used the occasion of the 70th anniversary of the German invasion of Poland to argue that Britain should not have declared war on Germany.
The American Conservative Magazine
In 2002, to start a new magazine featuring conservative viewpoints on the economy, immigration and foreign policy, Buchanan joined with former New York Post editorial page editor Scott McConnell and financier Taki Theodoracopulos. The American Conservative's first issue was dated October 7, 2002. Buchanan's association with the Magazine ended in 2007.
On the Supreme Court
In a 2010 column, Buchanan expressed his disapproval of Barack Obama's nomination of Elena Kagan, who is Jewish, to the United States Supreme Court. Buchanan wrote: "If Kagan is confirmed, Jews, who represent less than 2 percent of the U.S. population, will have 33 percent of the Supreme Court seats. Is this the Democrats' idea of diversity?" Buchanan also suggested that liberals might be "anti-WASP".