View from the North
                    December 28, 2007

By Mark Wegierski

Author's Introduction (December 2007):

     At a time when Ron Paul appears to be poised to 
launch a presidential "insurgency-candidacy," it is 
helpful to examine earlier examples of this phenomenon. 
Buchanan's 1992 candidacy occurred before the rise of the 
Internet as a mass medium. Nevertheless, a populist 
opposition to the recession of the early 1990s had a 
resonance at least somewhat comparable to that of 
opposition to the war in Iraq today. When in 1992 it 
appeared that Buchanan might actually win the Republican 
nomination, the result was an unrelenting firestorm of 
media and establishment Republican criticism that 
effectively ended his chances of success. However, the 
following column accurately predicted that Buchanan's 
insurgency-candidacy had probably compromised 
George H.W. Bush's chances in the November 1992 U.S. 
presidential election.

Bush Critically Wounded by Buchanan Candidacy?
(February 1992)

     The 1992 American nomination process is producing a 
large number of political surprises, among them, the 
emergence of Pat Buchanan as a serious contender against 
President Bush. Further surprises may yet be in store, 
for example, the late entry of [Mario] Cuomo or the 
continued strength of [Paul] Tsongas [senator from 
Massachusetts], the anti-candidate candidate. Tsongas 
looks like a decent, somewhat naive man of principle, 
with little charisma or understanding of how sleazy the 
political process actually is. Buchanan, in his own way, 
is an anti-politician politician as well.

     It is interesting to speculate to what extent class 
and religious dynamics play a role in Buchanan's campaign 
against Bush: Buchanan as the working-class Catholic and 
Irish outsider; Bush as the effete, WASP patrician of the 
Eastern Establishment. Bush's prissy speech compares 
unfavorably to Buchanan's fiery -- if controversial -- 
declamation. A deep antagonism is apparent in Buchanan's 
use of the phrase "King George" -- an antagonism drawn 
from the decades-long exclusion by the WASP elites of 
Catholics, white ethnics, and the white Protestant 
working-classes from positions of serious power.

     Buchanan's protectionist politics, fighting words, 
and populist style are akin in spirit to the early union 
and populist movements of America, their sufferings from 
the exactions of WASP plutocrats, and their resistance to 
"the social superiors who know better how to organize and 
rule the country." Buchanan despises country-club 
Republicans and the elite of the Republican party, who, 
in his opinion, have sold out heartland America.

     Buchanan's strong showing has critically wounded 
Bush, even if he finishes the nomination process a 
winner. Poll results continue to see Bush's popularity in 
free-fall. To think that a controversial commentator 
could seriously challenge the nomination of an incumbent 
president, who once enjoyed a 90 percent approval rating, 
throws into question Bush's chances in November. What can 
his credibility with the American people be, if his own 
Republicans are in virtual revolt? If Bush wins the 
hard-fought nomination, his Democratic contenders can 
leverage this to great benefit.

     Ironically, the situation is such that Bush will 
have less of a chance of winning the presidency, coming 
out of a hard-fought nomination fight, than Buchanan 
might. The momentum of Buchanan's historic overturning of 
an incumbent president would be worth more in the 
presidential campaign than Bush's uninspired ability -- 
backed by all the resources of the Republican Party 
leadership and various friends in the media -- to quash 
the incipient "Middle American revolution."

     It is already too late for Bush's advisors to 
advance the argument that potential Buchanan supporters 
should rally behind the electable candidate. Buchanan's 
candidacy has inflicted an enormous amount of damage and 
reduced Bush's presidential chances considerably. If Bush 
wins the nomination, the Democrats will have Buchanan to 
thank for almost certainly handing them the real victory 
in November. However, if Buchanan somehow wins the 
nomination, the race will be wide open.

     A presidential campaign involving Buchanan versus 
Tsongas would be so much more interesting and 
invigorating to the American political process, and the 
over-all health of American democracy, than a 
"no-issues-please" contest between George Bush and 
William Clinton.


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Copyright (c) 2007 by Mark Wegierski. All rights 
reserved. Permission has been given to the Fitzgerald 
Griffin Foundation to distribute and post this article.

Mark Wegierski is a Toronto-based writer, social critic, 
and historical researcher and is published in major 
Canadian newspapers, as well as in U.S. scholarly 
journals. His writing has also appeared in Polish, 
British, and German publications.

Mr. Wegierski holds a B.A. (Hons), M.A. in History, and 
M.L.S., all from the University of Toronto, as well as a 
graduate certificate in creative writing from Humber 

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