Saturday, August 2, 2014

Pat Buchanan, A Hero In Nixon's Moon Shot

Pat Buchanan takes no prisoners.

His aim is to defend America's greatness. And if blacks, Jews, Muslims, Mexicans, queens and Bush backers (I'm one of them) get their feelings hurt during his riddling, tough.

Such shots got Buchanan fired from MSLSD (Mark Levin's twist on the lefty network), which was fine news for Pat fans. Now he ended up on my namesake channel, Fox News, where we could catch the deepest, cleverest commentator in the biz. All is good in righty land.

Here's the truth among libs: They pay attention to him. Why? Because Pat Buchanan can flat-out write. His prose is entertaining like no one in the newspaper, magazine, blog arena. Period. Paragraph.

Those last two words are stolen from Pat. Along with a grasp of geography, names, politics and history like no one else in the arena (check out his appearance on Peter Robinson's online show "Uncommon Knowledge" for dead-on analysis you can't turn off), Buchanan has old-school lines that make his columns and books sing. Such as: "headed for the tall grass." Meaning pussed out.

No wonder Richard Nixon hired him. He found a thoroughbred and rode his speechwriting and brilliant ideas from 1966 all the way to the presidency two years hence.

The stunning gallop is captured in Pat's new book, "The Greatest Comeback: How Richard Nixon Rose From Defeat to Create the New Majority."

Being the Nixon and Buchanan cheerer that I am, I bought the tome the minute it went on sale. And a ticket to see the man who in his 20s had the guts to join the former vice president when all anyone else saw was a loser of 1960 and '62.

During what Nixon called his wilderness years pretending to be a lawyer in New York, Buchanan was just about the whole staff. And he talked all about it in a riveting speech and Q&A at the Nixon Library in Yorba Linda, Calif., 20 minutes from my home, on July 21.

I could've listened to Pat for a week straight. The man is Mount Rushmore compelling. As it was, I had his ear and fun delivery during the book signing. Told him my sister lives in his McLean, Va., neighborhood. And asked what he thought of Ted Agnew the man. Pat said he got along great with him, only it was too bad the vice president took cash in the basement. Ah, well. Let others wallow.

So the book. Just finished it and gotta say it's right up there with fellow Nixon scribe Bill Safire's "Before the Fall" as the coolest political productions you could ever read.

Favorite takes:

* Quoting Murray Kempton of the New York Post: "One finally decides that he must have manufactured a splendid car at American Motors. You got to have a great product for George Romney to sell it."

* "The cruelty of the commentary on Romney continued unabated. Gene McCarthy was quoted as saying that in Romney's case a full brainwashing had been unnecessary, as 'a light rinse would have sufficed.' "

"Years later, after I had dropped off a speech draft in the Oval Office, the President read it and muttered, 'For God's sake, Buchanan, get some lift into it!' As I reached the door, he said loud enough to hear, 'Why can't I get speechwriters like Wilson's?' Not until I was outside the Oval Office did I retort, sotto voce, 'Wilson wrote his own speeches.' "

* "Rockefeller said he had written an affidavit to have his name removed from the Oregon ballot. 'It is my complete conviction that this is the truest service I now can give to my party and my country.' Dwight and I rushed to the bedroom. 'He's not running!' 'It's the girl,' said Nixon." Meaning a Rocky affair.

* "(Martin Luther) King had moved so far out of the mainstream that black columnist Carl Rowan had penned an attack on him in Reader's Digest. Bill Buckley wrote that King was becoming 'the Harold Stasson of the civil rights movement.' That there would be a national holiday for King was unimaginable in that spring of 1968, as would the claim by 21st-century conservatives that Dr. King was somehow one of us."

* "The pattern was set. Violence by whites resisting integration merited national coverage and thunderous condemnation. Black-on-white violence called for reticence and perspective, an understanding of the 'root causes.' "

* "Nixon's advice went down to the minutest detail. When on the road, 'never pass a men's room without going in,' he advised me, which I found to be sage counsel. Once when a congressman put in the Congressional Record remarks insulting Nixon, I wrote a letter that was just short of challenging him to a duel. Nixon told me to drop it. 'Ignore him,' Nixon said. 'He's congressman.' What he meant is that an ex-vice president does not engage a congressman. That would diminish us and elevate him."

* "Among his finer performances in 1968 had been the one before the American Society of Newspaper Editors, where Nixon had opened himself up for questioning by the editors after Governor Rockefeller bored them with one of his ponderous speeches on more money for the cities."

* "On the plane back, the writers were called up to the front. Nixon seemed relaxed, confident, fatalistic about the outcome. After the previous evening's jolting remark on the telethon about down to the 'nut-cutting,' he went into a disquisition on 'sheep fries' and 'lamb fries' — testicles, how they were obtained, and how delicious some folks thought they were."

Marvelous stuff from Pat. Now the man who led the Buchanan Brigades through his own primary runs of 1992 and '96 has new marching orders: a book on the Vietnam War-ending, all-volunteer-Army-starting, Israel-rescuing, moon-landing Nixon presidency of 1969 to '74.

Bucky Fox is an author and editor in Southern California.