Just as with the left, the paleo right believes it does not need the luxury of outlining concrete positions apart from a vague wish that the followers of Pat Buchanan can join with those of Ralph Nader to effect a united coalition. But one can deduce what paleos believe by reading its magazine, The American Conservative. The latest issue (July 31) starts off cheering the Supreme Court for ruling against the Bush administration to try Guantanamo detainees (as does the left) It then supports the fact that Hamas now wants a two-state solution, mourning that millions of Palestinians have no electricity, no services, no government, ignoring all the excesses of Hamas that have blocked negotiations in the past (as does the left) Then it is depressed by the defeat of immigration hard-liner John Jacobs in the Utah Republican primary to Congressman Chris Cannon, ignoring the statement by Jacobs that Satan is involved with Jacobs opposition
A column by Buchanan recommends we get out of Korea now (The way to Guam and home lies open) which is also supported by the left Economist Paul Craig Roberts, a paleo new recruit, worries about the looming deficit but was caught blind-sided after publication with the announcement that the deficit has dropped from $423 billion to $296 billion, largely due to the Bush tax cuts which Roberts in his former incarnation used to celebrate. No mention of the tax cuts in his pessimistic piece which apes the left It minimizes any information turned up by the NSA that has been data-mining telephone, fax and e-mail transactions (as does the left) It pronounces the Afghanistan effort as a model only for disaster (as does the left) It defends The New York Times in publishing the facts of the Terrorist Finance Tracking program, saying that todays conservatives are eager to trade freedom for security warning that the Bush administration cannot be trusted to defend our freedoms (as does the left).
It publishes approvingly an article by liberal Democratic Senator Byron Dorgan (D-ND) attacking Wal-Marts low prices that have come from free trade, warning that these prices come at a high economic cost and declaring that corporate greed is selling out America in small towns where Mom and Pop stores cannot compete with the giant and hence are closing, the recommendation being that Wal-Mart must be stopped and prices hiked
The same issue of the magazine reviews a book Where Did the Party Go? . Its a book that bashes Hubert Humphrey for being too anti-Communist. The reviewer, Bill Kaufman, says Humphrey hated pacifists, isolationist and radical American dissenters and purged them with the fervor of Tailgunner Joe. As one who knows something about Humphrey and knew him, I would say thats correct-and not a derogation, although Kaufman insists it is. He says Humphrey persecuted drove harmless populist Farmer-Laborites out of his Democratic party and what a shame that was. The only ones who say this now are the few radical leftists still alive in Minnesota who rue the day the followers of pro-Communist governor Elmer Benson were shown the gate by Humphrey. As I knew who they were and Kaufman doesnt, I can congratulate him on buying the old Commie jargon that Humphrey was a conservative in sheeps clothing. You will find that same estimate in the favorite organ of the left, The Nation
Finally, as a final piece, a snide put-down of conservative scholar and intellectual Paul Johnson for his book The Creators. So in one issue just about the entire panoply of issues favored by the left is glowingly presented (one exception: it is pro-life). The attack on Humphrey particularly appalls me: Humphrey never was found on the populist side of an issue. As one who covered him, particularly on the farm issue, I was so mis-led I didnt recognize it? He red-baited ferociously in the late `40s and sponsored legislation to outlaw the Communist party USA. Thats a criticism now in Pat Buchanans magazine as it most assuredly would be in any leftist publication. He opposed the traditional Farmer-Labor party in the mid-`40s. That group was supporting Henry A. Wallace against Harry Truman. [He opposed] the Mississippi Freedom Democratic party in the mid-1960s, the New Left and counter-culture in the late 1960s Guilty as charged. Then the reviewer projects a hope for realignment between the paleos and the Green Party on the left. There would be trouble fusing it together because of social policy, he says, but then brightly recommends the fusion anyhow. Let San Francisco be San Francisco and let Utah be Utah. Mind your own damn place.
Wonderful. Elect the paleos and the Greens and let `er rip. To those who occasionally write here in defense of paleo-conservatism (and youre welcome) what do you have to say about that? All thats missing is an article by Kevin Phillips denouncing our theocracy-but he was in last months issue.
Wait'll you get a load of Buchanan's latest missive.
I'm Jeff Taylor, author of the book Where Did the Party Go? (reviewed by Bill Kauffman in The American Conservative). Tom Roeser's critique of the book review is somewhat misleading, although some of our differences are just honest differences of perspective.
First off, Humphrey never was a populist. His father in South Dakota was, but by the time Humphrey was in grad school at the University of Minnesota he had set aside any residual populism.
When Roeser quotes from my book, he writes, "He opposed the traditional Farmer-Labor party in the mid-1940s, the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party in the mid-1960s, the New Left and Counterculture in the late 1960s He leaves out my last example: "and the right-to-life movement in the mid-1970s." Why does he omit that example? Maybe because this point would appeal to conservatives? Roeser admires Henry Hyde. Well, unlike Hyde and Reagan in the '70s, Humphrey supported Roe v. Wade. Why did HHH support legalized abortion? Not because he was a feminist, certainly. It was because he was a faithful follower of the Power Elite and by 1973 one of its principles was legal access to abortion. Kauffman comments on this section of my book: "In each case the enemy of populism was the Democratic establishment in all its mottled inglory: New Deal bureaucrats, racist Dixiecrats, Vietnam War technocrats, and urban feminist harpycrats." Again, Roeser didn't see fit to quote this portion of the review--perhaps because conservatives might agree with most of Kauffman's sentiments. Personally, I don't hold feminists responsible for Roe v. Wade since abortion rights had its roots in the elite-dominated eugenics/population control movement and the decision to strike down state laws was made by seven privileged men (not grassroots women).
My book does not bash Humphrey "for being too anti-Communist." My heroes over the years have included Alexander Solzhenitsyn and Jesse Helms. I'm as anti-Communist as they come. What I criticize Humphrey and the Truman-LBJ Democratic establishment for is using accusations of anti-communism selectively for the purpose of smearing populists on both the Left and Right. Roeser seems to admire Truman, which is an odd position for a supposed conservative. Did I miss the memo when conservatives suddenly became lovers of the New Deal and Fair Deal? This is what I write in my book about Humphrey and Communism:
"[In the late 1940s,] traditional liberals and Taftian conservatives who opposed or questioned what they viewed as the militaristic or imperialistic nature of the Cold War were denounced [by Truman Democrats] as either full-fledged Communists or unwitting dispensers of Kremlin propaganda." But neither Elmer Benson nor Robert Taft were Reds or dupes of Stalin. That was a ridiculous assertion made by men who were being cynical and two-faced. These anti-Communists-of-convenience had been allied with the Communist Party USA and fawned over "Uncle Joe" Stalin throughout the early-mid 1940s as part of the Popular Front. It's not the anti-Communism of Humphrey I find objectionable; it's the selective and even spurious nature of his anti-Communism that is objectionable.
I also write this about Humphrey in the book: In the 1960s, Vice President Humphrey "accused anti-war protesters of giving 'aid and comfort to the Communist enemy.' Ironically, Humphrey himself played a role in strengthening communist dictatorships through his support for detente even as he criticized relatively powerless American citizens for exercising freedom of speech....Humphrey supported increased trade with the Soviet Union and its Eastern European satellites in the early 1960s, and supported the detente policies of Henry Kissinger in relation to the Soviet Union and Communist China in the early 1970s. Humphrey's thinking on East-West trade and aid was primarily influenced by a big businessman (Dwayne Andreas), not by morality or ideology. Echoing the conclusion of Orwell's Animal Farm three decades earlier, labor leader Charles Levinson believed that detente was a convenient arrangement whereby materialistic, power-driven American and Soviet elites mutually derived personal benefits....Most criticism of detente during the 1960s and '70s came from conservative populists. For example, running against the Ford-Rockefeller ticket from within the GOP, in 1975, former California governor Ronald Reagan criticized grain sales to the USSR: 'Are we not helping the godless tyranny maintain its hold on millions of helpless people? Wouldn't those helpless victims have a better chance of becoming free if their slave masters collapsed economically? Maybe there is an answer--we simply do what's morally right. Stop doing business with them.' American liberals could easily dismiss detente criticism coming from 'reactionaries' like Reagan or even-less-respectable sources like the John Birch Society because of basic disagreements on domestic policy. Libertarian socialists Orwell and Levinson, however, were criticizing what they saw as an international charade from a perspective to the left of Humphrey. Condemnation from neither Right nor Left changed the course pursued by Ford, Humphrey, and other centrist politicians."
Does that sound like I'm glorifying Communism or criticizing anti-Communism? It was Johnson, Humphrey, Ford, Rockefeller, and other centrists who were helping Communist dictators in Europe and Asia through their policies of detente--or have conservatives now adopted Dean Rusk and Henry Kissinger as heroes?
As for Pat Buchanan, he has his faults but he's certainly a more sincere and consistent conservative than George W. Bush. There's no comparison! Do you know anything about Bush's background? He was a Rockefeller Republican from the get-go. Take a look at his run for Congress in the late '70s. Look at what he said during his campaigns for governor. His administration is dominated by a coalition of ex-Humphrey Democrats, ex-Trotsky Communists, and ex-Rockefeller Republicans. That's not a recipe for conservatism! In chapter 11 of my book I write,
"The neoconservatives in Washington have worked hand-in-hand with Rockefeller-Ford Republicans like Rumsfeld, Cheney, Powell, and Rice (not to mention Bush himself--the son of a man who opposed Reagan's first three campaigns for the White House). Conspicuously missing in the Bush administration are notable Goldwater-Reagan Republicans. This is especially interesting for a self-described 'conservative' presidency since room was even found in the cabinet for a Clinton Democrat (Mineta). Ironically, in terms of foreign policy, the ideological descent of the Bush II administration can be traced back to Humphrey just as much as could the Clinton administration. The global aims and messianic rhetoric of Bush have been routinely described as Wilsonian. Bush resembles Humphrey on domestic policy as well. From a ballooning budget deficit to encroachment on states' rights in Supreme Court cases, form the Patriot Act and No Child Left Behind, from his idea that taxpayers should finance premarital counseling to his proposal to fund the use of veterans to teach kids how to read after school, there is no area of American life that is seen by Bush as being beyond the proper reach of federal power."
Say what you will about Buchanan, at least he was supporting Goldwater in 1964 while all the neocons were backing Johnson-Humphrey, and he was supporting Reagan in 1976 while the neocons were still Democrats and the Cheney-Rumsfeld crowd was serving the Ford-Rockefeller administration. I know Newt Gingrich loves Franklin Roosevelt and Charles Krauthammer ranks Harry Truman above Reagan, but is grassroots conservatism so debased that it can't recognize a true conservative when it sees one? Even if you disagree with Buchanan on Israeli politics, does that justify rewriting history so that liberals like Humphrey are praised while conservatives like Buchanan are condemned?
I'm not claiming that my book represents 100% pure conservatism because my populist perspective is broader than that, but it's certainly compatible with real conservatism, which is why The American Conservative gave it a favorable review.
P.S. - I enjoyed reading Free Republic during the Clinton years. It became less interesting as most of its posters adopted a knee-jerk Bush-as-Great-Leader party line after 2000. To me, if an action was wrong when Clinton did it, it's still wrong even if Bush does it.