This surprise showing won Buchanan a speaking slot at the ‘92 convention which re-nominated Bush and Dan Quayle. In his address, Buchanan said of Bill and Hillary Clinton, “The agenda of Clinton and Clinton would impose on Americans abortion on demand, a litmus test for the Supreme Court, homosexual rights, discrimination against religious schools, and women in combat — that’s change all right. But it is not the kind of change we can abide in a nation we can still call God’s country.”
Before the next speaker could get to the podium, the national press was labeling Buchanan intolerant. Ingratiating themselves to the national press, many of Buchanan’s fellow Republicans attacked him for being divisive. Moderate Republicans got nervous, claiming the speech would alienate undecided voters.
Moderate Republicans are always nervous about something. What had really already frayed their nerves was the campaign leading up to the convention. During the primaries, Buchanan, consistent to the core and always loyal to his convictions, had emphasized social conservatism and opposition to multiculturalism, abortion and gay rights. Never squishy, he ran on the same platform when he challenged Bob Dole for the nomination in 1996.
His views on Israel notwithstanding, Buchanan has been a reliable voice for social and religious conservatives ever since “The Speech.” It would be revealing to stand his address beside all of the social developments that have occurred since 1992, that is, from Clinton’s first term through Obama’s first term, and see if they match up. It should be embarrassing to Republicans that, even though they occupied the White House and both houses of Congress for an election cycle, none of these developments were put in check.
In short, Buchanan’s concern for America’s social drift has not abated. There are obvious reasons why.
Glance back at the above quote from his “divisive” speech. Divisive it may have been, but compare his foretelling to today’s realities. For example, (1) abortion: Roe v. Wade is still the law of the land, and if the accounts of the murderous Dr. Gosnell in Philadelphia don’t awaken us to the evils of the abortion industry and to Planned Parenthood’s tax-supported part in it, nothing will. (2) The Supreme Court: President Obama’s two nominees to the Court have been disastrous for conservatives, granting abortion rights advocates two more allies. (3) Homosexual rights: “Marriage equality” is advancing pell mell, Delaware being the 11th state to allow homosexual marriage. So important to the President of the United States is the outing of homosexuals that he phoned a professional athlete to declare him heroic, merely because the athlete told the world he was a homosexual.
Also, Buchanan’s fourth point, (4) discrimination against religious schools: We need only to recall the Sandra Fluke affair — a student at a private Catholic university demanding that the university pay for her birth control and then receiving her phone call of support from the president as well.
Finally, (5) women in combat: Just before leaving his post as Secretary of Defense, Leon Panetta authorized women in combat, placing social engineering above both military purpose and common sense.
Point for point, was Buchanan’s much maligned speech right or wrong? Even if these developments were not all realized under Clinton, he incubated them. Obama hatched them.
To me, Buchanan’s views on Israel are grievous. Leaning toward Palestinian sympathies, he often denigrates “the Jewish Lobby” in Congress. Americans, particularly evangelical Christians, have always been modern Israel’s best friends. Even if there were no biblical injunction to bless Abraham’s descendants, why would we still not support the only democracy in an otherwise turbulent and tyrannical Arab world?
While Buchanan veers from conservative orthodoxy on Israel, however, he has sincerely and solidly stood firm on the most immediate issue of all — America’s social fabric. Yes, the social fabric tears when the government announces that 15-year-olds can purchase the “morning-after pill” without the involvement or permission of their parents. It tears further each time the government sets any kind of policy that marginalizes parents.
I’m with Peggy Noonan, President Ronald Reagan’s premier speech writer, who recently declared that Obama-fatigue alone is turning Americans on the left and right away from Obama. He’s just making too many wrong calls, telephone calls included.
If Noonan is right, let’s hope the president keeps up his overexposure. And let’s be grateful for cultural warriors like Buchanan who continue to fight the good fight.
Roger Hines of Kennesaw is a retired high school teacher.