Here's a War Buchanan Wants to Fight

  • Share
  • Read Later
Pat Buchanan has set a date for the invasion. After months of massing his troops at the border, CNN reports that the man with mixed feelings about WWII has scheduled a press conference for October 25 to announce (finally!) that he’s joining the Reform party and gunning for its presidential nomination. That the announcement will be made in the D.C. suburb of Falls Church, Va., pretty much sums up his appeal –- he’s a political outsider who’s not too far outside and a political commentator who’s smart enough to sound halfway credible and wacky enough to appeal to the margins. Those who are waving Buchanan ashore see a rabble-rousing candidate (in the best sense of the phrase) who’ll bring a small army of followers and a measure of political professionalism to a young party whose power base is currently divvied up between a flaky billionaire and a loose-tongued ex-wrestler.

And he'll quite probably make the Reform party stand up and decide what it wants to be. Jesse Ventura has sketched out a libertarianism on social issues (and an internationalism on trade issues) that a Buchanan candidacy would instantly erase. Buchanan's followers are rabidly pro-life and anti-foreigner and not disinclined to scan the skies for black helicopters and other imaginary craft. They also turn out at the polls — Buchanan could expect to clear the 5 percent hurdle the party needs to hang on to its matching funds in 2004. But, and it's a big but, they have the effect of scaring everybody else away. The Reform party’s best long-term hopes, surely, are with a higher-rent crowd than that (think young, smart, successful and jaded, and you’ve got a constituency with a future). Buchanan’s would-be delegates, however, are already out in force, softening up the beach for when their man finally steps off the boat. Unless the Ventura/Trump/Weicker axis gets its act together soon, Buchanan will get exactly what he’s always wanted — a party of his very own to push around.