February 6, 2010

Pat Buchanan unleashed his inner Tea Partier yesterday on Hardball, telling Chris Matthews that he would campaign for Tea Party challenger J.D. Hayworth over John McCain in their Arizona primary race. Hayworth, you may recall, recently voiced support for the Birthers on the same show:

MATTHEWS: Where are you on McCain versus Hayworth?

BUCHANAN: If I‘m out in Arizona, I would vote for J.D. Hayworth, who is a friend of mine and a conservative. And if he lost, I would vote for John McCain.

MATTHEWS: OK, we know where you stand.

Joan Walsh took him to task for it:

WALSH: We absolutely know where you stand. He‘s a birther. He‘s an extremist. Thank you, Pat.

The "Birther" matter is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Hayworth. Back in 2006, en route to losing his congressional seat, Hayworth tried to revive Henry Ford's program of "Americanism," which you may recall was actually a code word for anti-Semitic eliminationism; it was also a favorite program promoted avidly by the Ku Klux Klan in the 1920s.

Hayworth lost that race, in no small part because of voters were repelled by his lame denials about the "Americanization" program.

Of course, none of this would bother the author of State of Emergency: The Third World Invasion and Conquest of America, would it?

But because he's still our avuncular Uncle Pitchfork, he of course resorted to the standard retort of conservatives when confronted with the realities of the extremists in their midst:

BUCHANAN: This is why you lose—do you know why you lose these people? Because you show contempt for them. You call them birthers. You call them names. I‘m talking about the people, the Tea Party people. All they want, Joan, is respect. And you liberals never give it to them. You call them all names. No wonder they go over to the Republican party.

Walsh then took Buchanan apart:

WALSH: You know what, Pat, that‘s really unfair. I went to a Tea Party in San Francisco last April 15th. You can go read about it on my blog. I talked to people who I thought were common sensical. I talked to people who were very upset about Tarp, who felt like there was a complete give-away to Goldman Sachs. I pointed to the places where the left and right could make common cause.

But, for the most part, these Birthers, they‘re not reaching out. They‘re hysterical about Barack Obama and they‘re dividing the country. So don‘t tell me I‘m the problem and that I‘m not reaching out.

BUCHANAN: I‘ve helped put together two coalitions, one for Reagan, where it was basically Evangelical Christians and all these protestants down there who didn‘t like a lot of folks also. You‘ve got to bring them in. Also with Nixon, we brought the whole Wallace movement, whatever you say about it—at one point it was at 23 percent. He got 13 percent of the vote.

WALSH: That was a racist movement.

BUCHANAN: You call them all that.

WALSH: If you‘re proud of it, that‘s great.

Buchanan's whine was almost identical that of Gerard Alexander in the Washington Post today, wondering: "Why are liberals so condescending?"

Every political community includes some members who insist that their side has all the answers and that their adversaries are idiots. But American liberals, to a degree far surpassing conservatives, appear committed to the proposition that their views are correct, self-evident, and based on fact and reason, while conservative positions are not just wrong but illegitimate, ideological and unworthy of serious consideration. Indeed, all the appeals to bipartisanship notwithstanding, President Obama and other leading liberal voices have joined in a chorus of intellectual condescension.

Yes, apparently it's "condescending" to point out to conservatives their utter divorce from reality. Apparently the preferred option is for us to remain silent and let conservatives lie and distort at their pleasure.

And apparently we also condescend when we discuss historical realities:

The third version of liberal condescension points to something more sinister. In his 2008 book, "Nixonland," progressive writer Rick Perlstein argued that Richard Nixon created an enduring Republican strategy of mobilizing the ethnic and other resentments of some Americans against others. Similarly, in their 1992 book, "Chain Reaction," Thomas Byrne Edsall and Mary D. Edsall argued that Nixon and Reagan talked up crime control, low taxes and welfare reform to cloak racial animus and help make it mainstream. It is now an article of faith among many liberals that Republicans win elections because they tap into white prejudice against blacks and immigrants.

Race doubtless played a significant role in the shift of Deep South whites to the Republican Party during and after the 1960s. But the liberal narrative has gone essentially unchanged since then -- recall former president Carter's recent assertion that opposition to Obama reflects racism -- even though survey research has shown a dramatic decline in prejudiced attitudes among white Americans in the intervening decades. Moreover, the candidates and agendas of both parties demonstrate an unfortunate willingness to play on prejudices, whether based on race, region, class, income, or other factors.

This is, of course, the standard conservative line: Racism and resentment are no longer big themes for Republicans because we've made so much progress on these fronts. The reality, of course, is that the progress has been minimal, and as we've seen all around us -- especially at the Tea Parties -- racism and resentment are alive and kicking.

But then, none of this is particularly surprising, considering the source: Back in 2004, Gerard Alexander was arguing -- on similarly specious grounds -- that the Southern Strategy was never really a racial thing, and its effects today have vanished. Right.

Pat Buchanan likes to claim the same thing.

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