Commentary Magazine


Will Buchanan Be Called to Account?

For decades, Pat Buchanan has maintained his perch as a mainstream political commentator, first on CNN and later on MSNBC. But according to the Washington Post, Buchanan may not return to the left-leaning cable network after his book tour ends. Though some on the right will blame his departure on the network’s decision to try to become the liberal answer to Fox News, it’s far more likely that what some see as the racist tone of his latest tome has finally brought Buchanan the comeuppance he has long deserved.

Though Buchanan engaged in anti-Semitic rhetoric more than 20 years ago during the first Gulf War and has promoted revisionist views of World War Two in which he trashed Winston Churchill and questioned America’s decision to fight the Nazis, defended Holocaust war criminals and favored appeasing Islamists, none of that was enough to drive him to the margins of American punditry, where he belongs. But after claiming blacks may be less intelligent than whites in his latest book Suicide of a Superpower, Buchanan may have committed an unforgivable sin in the eyes of his employers.

The new book, which includes chapters titled “The End of White America” and “The Death of Christian America,” is apparently an extended lament for the America of his youth, during which he listened approvingly to Father Charles Coughlin’s racist and anti-Semitic rants on the radio. Buchanan represents the worst of paleo-conservativism, a creed that in his version combines traditional xenophobia at home with isolationism abroad. It’s a free country, and he has every right to expound upon his views and to publish his beliefs wherever he can. But it’s always struck me, and no doubt others, as curious that his personal popularity in elite media and political circles was enough to enable him to retain his position in the mainstream broadcast media while others with similarly extremist and hateful views could not.

Some on the right maintain a certain affection for Buchanan for his willingness to skewer the left and because of his old associations with Ronald Reagan. But he left the Republican Party and, indeed, the mainstream conservative movement long ago as he drifted to the extremes of American political comment. If he is fired by MSNBC–whatever their reasons might now be–he won’t be missed.