The Challenger What Does Pat Want?

Buchanan has already drawn blood and divided the G.O.P., but he won't be satisfied until the party embraces his arch-conservative agenda

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This poisonous populism also infects Buchanan's foreign policy. He mocks the "globaloney" of Bush's new world order, which he claims threatens American sovereignty and smacks of a move toward world government. He attacks international organizations like the World Bank and the United Nations. He demands a cutoff of foreign aid and wants to bring U.S. troops home from Europe, while making Japan and Germany pay their share of the defense burden. On trade, Buchanan promises retaliation if other countries refuse to open their markets.

A former Nixon speechwriter, Buchanan uses his venomous tongue to insult almost everyone. He mocks top Bush advisers as the "geisha girls of the new world order." He has called Congress "Israeli-occupied territory," and considers AIDS "nature's retribution."

Journalists have been relatively easy on Buchanan for several reasons: he's not winning so far, he's charming and funny -- and he's a great story. Thanks to his TV experience, the former CNN Crossfire co-host can deliver crisp sound bites by the mouthful and play the camera angles like the professional performer he is. Up close, his genial manner trumps the tough public persona. But his deep-rooted conservatism is evident even in his dark blue suits and Brylcreemed hair.

Buchanan remains a long shot to win a single primary, and he knows it. So he is declaring victory by default. Pointing to Bush's sacking of NEA chairman John Frohnmayer and his admission that he should not have broken his no-new- taxes pledge in 1990, Buchanan claims that he has already shoved the President to the right. But Buchanan is hungry for more. "This is a crusade for a Middle American revolution," he says. He is searching for that elusive breakthrough state -- perhaps Michigan -- and he will keep giving Bush hell as long as the money keeps flowing in.

But the truth is that Buchanan may rapidly become the G.O.P.'s Jesse Jackson, a charismatic candidate who would rather lose and be right, as he sees it, than win and be wrong. And that raises the question, asked often about Jackson four years ago, of what Buchanan really wants. "There's a hierarchy of goals," says Buchanan during an interview on his crowded jet. "You'd like the whole pot at the end of the rainbow -- the nomination, a great campaign, the presidency -- all the gold. But short of that there are smaller pots of gold, and we've already got them. We're in the history books." What Buchanan wants is for Bush to run a Buchananesque campaign in the fall. Before that happens, though, the feuding parties must choreograph the delicate end game, which may be months away.

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