Jewish World Review Sept. 27, 2000 / 27 Elul 5760
Oprah for Rush
http://www.jewishworldreview.com -- IN AN UNCERTAIN WORLD, we can be reasonably sure of one thing -- Pat Buchanan will not do "The Oprah Winfrey Show." There will be no pecks on the cheek from Pat for the sultana of sob TV.
Gov. George Bush is now running even with Vice President Al Gore. Still, the governor has yet to fashion a defining theme for his campaign. After depressing poll results for most of this month, Bush decided he hadn't gone far enough to convince us of his niceness -- an excellent credential if he were running for class president.
A Republican consultant told me she believes the election will hinge on one question -- not who do I like, but who's addressing my concerns?
There is an gnawing fear among middle-class voters -- especially those of us old enough to recall what the country slipping through our fingers once was like -- who think faith is more than a campaign gimmick and believe the old world order (America foremost) was just fine.
In answer to their anxieties, Bush offers compassion and a tax cut or two. Last week, while the governor was busy telling Oprah how much he loves his family, the Reform Party candidate was campaigning on issues Republicans used to run on -- when Republicans won presidential elections.
After a four-week convalescence for surgery, Buchanan's back, with $12.6 million in matching funds and an unabashedly conservative message. At Bob Jones University, the aide to three presidents charged "cultural Marxism, which goes under the name of political correctness, is ... taking control of the great institutions of this republic."
"We are witnessing moral decadence and decline in this country," imposed from above by a "judicial dictatorship," Buchanan warned.
Campaigning in Pittsburgh, he berated both parties for granting Permanent Normal Trade Relations to the People's Republic. "We're allowing communist China unrestricted access to our market. ... What are they using the money for? They're using it to persecute Christians!"
The issues Republicans avoid, Pat passionately embraces. In August, he told the Reform Party convention that Americans want to know where their country is going. "How are we using ... all of this wealth, power and freedom? Are we still God's country?"
And what of those sacrificed on the altar of choice, "another million of whom will die this year without ever seeing the light of day"? "For these lost innocents, there was barely a word of compassion from the party of compassionate conservatism" in Philadelphia.
On trade, immigration, internationalism, abortion and homosexuality, Buchanan sounds a common theme -- calling on Americans to reclaim their economy and country, by reaffirming the morality on which both are based. Pat told me he intends to use his $12.6 million mostly in advertising on conservative talk and Christian radio stations. While Bush continues to run on fiscal issues (boring in a good economy) and personal pleasantness, Buchanan will take in the issues orphaned by the GOP -- the social, moral, sovereignty concerns that keep many of us awake at night.
In most polls, the populist is currently at 1 percent. But Pat has a knack for rousing the right. In 1996, he won one in every five Republican primary votes. If he works the talk-show circuit, advertises effectively and continues to generate publicity, he could reach 5 percent by election day (more in swing states).
By mid-October, if Gore again opens a wide lead, many conservatives who went along with Bush for Supreme Court nominations and because they want revenge for the Clinton years may say, "As long as we're losing anyway, I might as well cast my protest vote for the guy who's fighting for what I believe in."
Buchanan is looking to 2004. If Bush loses, the Republican establishment will be 0-for-3. Three times they forced a passionless moderate on the conservative grass-roots. This will lead to either a purge within the party or an exodus from it.
This is not to say that George should morph into Pat. But if Bush could
borrow some of Buchanan's fire and begin addressing issues that matter more
to Rush Limbaugh and Dr. Laura than Oprah, his chances would
JWR contributing columnist Don Feder's latest books are Who is afraid of the Religious Right? ($15.95) and A Jewish conservative looks at pagan America ($9.95). To receive an autographed copy, send a check or money order to: Don Feder, The Boston Herald, 1 Herald Sq., Boston, Mass. 02106. Doing so will help fund JWR, if so noted. He is also available as a guest speaker. To comment on this column please click here.