Tonight we have the 750th and 751st primaries in the 2008 Democratic nominating contest, in Kentucky and Oregon. This means we’ll probably be watching MSNBC for a good portion of the night because (a) Chris Matthews is such a stitch and (b) Chuck Todd, he so dreamy! Hillary will likely be declared the winner of Kentucky as soon as polls close, we’ll get an earful of mindless chatter about Obama’s continuing problems courting Bitters, Chuck Todd and Rachel Maddow and Eugene Robinson will note that Obama’s likely victory in Oregon will neutralize Hillary’s Kentucky delegate pickups, Tim Russert will declare that we have just reached some historical turning point in Math, Matthews will pull down his pants, Nora O’Donnell will be shown from the front only because she is pregnant, Dan Abrams will appear at 1 a.m. with no tie on, the end. Most importantly, Pat Buchanan will spasm uncontrollably all night long — he’s been doing it more and more recently — over Obama’s fatal flaws. Why, exactly, has Pat been even more of a nut recently on the teevee? It’s simple enough: Barack Obama is threatening to undo his life’s work.
Buchanan, of course, hit the national stage as an adviser and speechwriter for President Nixon. You know how the entire electoral map shifted in Republicans’ favor in 1968, guaranteeing them 7 out of 10 presidencies ever since? That was Pat’s brainchild. This has all been documented well and good, but in an epic new piece from the New Yorker, the writer, George Packer, quotes from a 1971 memo Buchanan wrote to Nixon. For some strange reason, Buchanan voluntarily gave this to Packer:
Buchanan gave me a copy of a seven-page confidential memorandum–“A little raw for today,” he warned–that he had written for Nixon in 1971, under the heading “Dividing the Democrats.” Drawn up with an acute understanding of the fragilities and fault lines in “the Old Roosevelt Coalition,” it recommended that the White House “exacerbate the ideological division” between the Old and New Left by praising Democrats who supported any of Nixon’s policies; highlight “the elitism and quasi-anti-Americanism of the National Democratic Party”; nominate for the Supreme Court a Southern strict constructionist who would divide Democrats regionally; use abortion and parochial-school aid to deepen the split between Catholics and social liberals; elicit white working-class support with tax relief and denunciations of welfare. Finally, the memo recommended exploiting racial tensions among Democrats. “Bumper stickers calling for black Presidential and especially Vice-Presidential candidates should be spread out in the ghettoes of the country,” Buchanan wrote. “We should do what is within our power to have a black nominated for Number Two, at least at the Democratic National Convention.” Such gambits, he added, could “cut the Democratic Party and country in half; my view is that we would have far the larger half.”
And there you have the last 40 years in American politics, crafted by Pat Buchanan, MSNBC analyst. And Barack Obama (if he stops being such a sally) has an historical chance to end this era and pour tasty Hope-salt over its ruins. So when you see Pat sitting at the shiny panel tonight, chaotically spitting at the ex-Sportscenter anchor and the radio lesbian, don’t judge: think about how you’d feel if your life’s work was about to go down as the most toxic force in modern American political and social history. Or something.
The Fall Of Conservatism [New Yorker]