Pity Patrick J. Buchanan: pessimism in his old age has left him a shadow of his former self.
Once a fiery, mainstream conservative speaker and writer, Buchanan has spent the last 15 years marginalizing himself among many of the same people who once cheered him.
His latest column "Was the Holocaust Inevitable?" published, both by Town Hall and WND, is indicative of where Buchanan is coming from these days. His history of World War II, Churchill, Hitler, and "The Unnecessary War": How Britain Lost Its Empire and the West Lost the World contains some usual views on that war.
Those who had applauded the old culture warrior of the 1970s and 80s, could only shake their heads. The head-shaking had begun in the 1990s when PJB had turned into a leading advocate of government control.
Government control? Pat Buchanan?
Sadly, yes. Buchanan became an outspoken economic nationalist during his first run for the presidency, insisting free trade was damaging the country. Buchanan had discovered something that liberals instinctively knew: that government intrusion is good--as long as it's intruding on behalf of his chosen cause.
Buchanan's equally-outspoken opposition to war in Iraq caused his magazine, The American Conservative, to lose at least one reader. His continued opposition to protecting any American interest no doubt lost him a few more.
In October 1999, Buchanan was on firmer ground when he attacked the Republican Party--as well as the Democrats--as a "beltway party". Many conservatives have echoed those thoughts, and in 2006, Republicans lost control of Congress after years of feeding heavily at the public earmark trough.
Buchanan started the 1990s out by simultaneous sallies against Israel and its American supporters.
* Buchanan referred to Capitol Hill as "Israeli-occupied territory."
(St. Louis Post Dispatch, 10/20/90)
* Buchanan issued, perhaps, his most famous quote on the subject during the First Gulf War: "There are only two groups that are beating the drums for war in the Middle East -- the Israeli defense ministry and its 'amen corner' in the United States." ("McLaughlin Group," 8/26/90)
* Writing of "group fantasies of martyrdom," Buchanan challenged the
historical record that thousands of Jews were gassed to death by diesel
exhaust at Treblinka: "Diesel engines do not emit enough carbon monoxide
to kill anybody." (New Republic, 10/22/90) Buchanan's columns have run in
the Liberty Lobby's Spotlight, the German-American National PAC newsletter
and other publications that claim Nazi death camps are a Zionist
This led some to look back at Buchanan's role in the Ronald's Reagan's visit to Bitburg, Germany.
Buchanan supported President Reagan's plan to visit a German military cemetery at Bitburg in 1985, where among buried wermacht soldiers, were forty eight 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," he said, "was Pat Buchanan, saying, 'We cannot give the perception of the president being subjected to Jewish pressure."
Buchanan said in response 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."
Largely forgotten today is Buchanan's role as a senior adviser to presidents Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, and Ronald Reagan, and his stint as the original host on CNN's Crossfire.
Which brings us to PJB's latest column, taken from his latest book about World War II. Britain declined after the war, choosing to cut loose its many colonies over the never 20 years. Buchanan sees Britain's slide through the prism of his particular causes: free trade and Britain's participation in two World Wars.
No Brit can easily concede my central thesis: The Brits kicked away their empire. Through colossal blunders, Britain twice declared war on a Germany that had not attacked her and did not want war with her, fought for 10 bloody years and lost it all.
This is, of course, one man's reading of history.
Buchanan's most outrageous claim may have been this next one.
"If Hitler were out to conquer the world, why did he not build a great fleet?"
Germany's resources were not unlimited, and Hitler did secretly build up the German fleet throughout the 1930s, until it was probably the 3rd or 4th most-powerful in the world. In fact, Hitler kept the German shipyards busy around-the-clock right up to--and after the start--of WWII.
By the end of the First World War the German Navy was one of the largest in the world. However, under the terms of the Versailles Treaty in 1919, the German government was restricted to vessels under 10,000 tons, forbidden to own submarines and allowed only 1,500 officers.
When Adolf Hitler became Chancellor in 1933 he implemented Plan Z, a ten year programme to develop a fleet capable of challenging the Royal Navy. The main emphasis was placed on the building of submarines and fast surface squadrons in order to be able to control Britain's vital trade supply lines.
German shipyards had difficulty producing the ships ordered by Hitler and on the outbreak of the Second World War the German Navy only had two battleships, two battlecruisers, three armoured cruisers, three heavy cruisers, six light cruisers, 22 destroyers and 59 submarines. Soon afterwards the Bismarck was completed. At 41,700 tons, it was considered the most powerful warship in the world.
That view expanded into still-more controversial territory when Buchanan's views of Hitler and the Holocaust hit the newsstands. The latest Buchanan historical theory is that the Holocaust would never have happened if Hitler had won the war.
Not until midwinter 1942 was the Wannsee Conference held, where the Final Solution was on the table.
That conference was not convened until Hitler had been halted in Russia, was at war with America and sensed doom was inevitable. Then the trains began to roll.
Apparently, Buchanan's now acquired the powers of a psychic: he knows that Hitler "sensed doom was inevitable" in 1942.
Buchanan would also have us believe that Hitler's life-long, maniacal animus toward the Jews began only when he felt the war was lost. He does not explain Hitler's insistence to the very end that Germany would win--and the unpleasant consequences for anyone in Hitler's circle who was unwise enough to express otherwise.
He also does not explain Hitler's dehumanization of Jews as "insects" and "animals". Pat would have us believe Hitler was only joking about Kristallnacht--which happened four years before Buchanan claims that Hitler got serious about erasing European Jewry at Wannsee.
There's more, but space is limited today. This is only the beginning of a sad task: the highlighting of Patrick J. Buchanan's long slide into irrelevancy among the very people who used to urge him on.
We never much had any use for the label "Far Right". Most often it was used by the Mainstream and Liberal media for any view which was contrary to their own. But, Buchanan may be the Jimmy Carter of the Far Right: trading in on prestige garnered earlier in his career; never missing a chance to attack US interests wherever they intersect with Israel.
Like we said, pity Patrick J. Buchanan: pessimism in his old age has left him a shrinking audience for his increasingly-eccentric views.
* Pat Buchanan: Hitler Didn't Plan to Kill the Jews
* Was the Holocaust inevitable?
* Was the Holocaust Inevitable?
* Pat Buchanan
* Pat Buchanan, Antisemitism and the Holocaust
* German Navy 1939