September 16, 1999
Everyone is teeing
off on Pat Buchanan again.
This time most of his critics are Republicans: Rush Limbaugh, Bill
Bennett, Cal Thomas, John Podhoretz, William Safire, Charles
Krauthammer. Buchanan has let it be known that he is indeed ready
to leave the Republican Party and hopes to get the presidential
nomination of Ross Perots Reform Party.
For Buchanan to join a third party
would be to declare war on the Republican Party, in
Limbaughs words. Like many conservatives, Rush thinks the
result would probably be to take enough votes from George W. Bush
to elect Al Gore (assuming that Bush and Gore will be the
major-party nominees). Which he thinks is deplorable.
Rush doesnt believe
Buchanan has a prayer of winning. He argues that he could only be a
spoiler, ensuring another liberal in the White House.
Since he made this argument, Rush
has been inundated with angry e-mail (he calls it hate
mail) from Buchanan supporters. But without rancor, he
should be forced to answer a few simple questions:
At what point, dear Rush,
would you yourself feel compelled to bolt the Republican Party?
Whom would it have to nominate in order for you to say:
Thats enough! Im out of here!? George
Pataki? Arlen Specter? Wouldnt your own logic require
conservatives to support any Republican candidate, provided
hes even a millimeter to the right of his Democratic
You think Bush is a genuine
conservative who deserves the trust of other conservatives. But
thats a judgment call, and it isnt shared by everyone.
Are you saying that those who dont trust Bush should support
William Safire accuses Buchanan of
pushing the dual-loyalty canard that the Israeli lobby
puts Israels interests ahead of American interests, thereby
stimulating anti-Semitism. Safire too should face
some basic questions.
Are Israeli interests ever
opposed to American interests? If so, should the Israeli lobby in
America put Americas interests first? But has it ever done
so? Isnt the very purpose of the lobby which
comprises most Jewish organizations in this country to
promote Israels interests at the expense, if necessary, of
those of the United States and the American taxpayer? Why is it
anti-Semitic to point out conflicts between
whats good for Israel and whats good for America?
Arent those conflicts the very reason an Israeli lobby exists
Or are we supposed to
assume that the two countries interests are always
identical? How often have you yourself opposed Israeli positions on
grounds that they would be injurious to the United States? Or do you
take the position that this is virtually impossible? Do you think we
should accept growing Arab and Muslim hostility to this country,
instead of cultivating good relations with the Muslim world? Is it in
our interest to provoke terrorism against Americans, at home and
You still resent
Buchanans 1991 crack about Israels Amen
Corner in this country. Do you really deny that there actually
is a body of opinion that meets that description for example,
those who excoriated the Bush administration for withholding loan
guarantees from Israel? How about those who consider the Israeli
spy Jonathan Pollard a hero or a victim of excessive
In short, what (if any) kind
of criticism of Israel do you deem permissible? At what point could
you bring yourself to say that the U.S.-Israeli alliance is harmful to
the United States? Or is that position, no matter how rational,
All these questions are so obvious
that they should occur to anyone who discusses our relations with
Israel. Yet to raise them is to incur immediate charges of bigotry, as
witness the treatment Buchanan gets. He would get kinder treatment
from pro-Israel journalists if he had sold military secrets to Israel.
But a jab at the Amen Corner has earned him the
lasting enmity of well, the Amen Corner. Their fury itself
confirms his point.
By definition, foreign lobbies are
loyal to foreign governments. If you support Belgian interests at the
sacrifice of American interests, you arent practicing
dual loyalty; you are loyal to Belgium.
In politics, as Buchanan can attest,
a man may get away with many vices; but his virtues wont go
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