Buchanan Gets No Respect
by Isabel Lyman
28 November 1999
Poor Pat Buchanan. He probably couldn't win a "coolest presidential candidate" poll. No super model for arm candy. Basketball greats aren't endorsing him. His daddy wasn't a president. His physique isn't honed to body-slamming perfection. Worse, the man gets no respect.
As an introduction to a news story about his recent visit to the Sooner State - where he garnered 30 percent of the GOP primary vote in 1992 - a local radio station announcer flippantly stated "Pat Buchanan brought his isolationist message to Oklahoma..."
Well, so what? It's Buchanan's intellectual capital, not pretty girls, tall jocks, a big-shot pop or a pink-feather boa, that endears him to his fans.
Being a member of the Buchanan Brigade means you hanker for substance over glitz. You know, it's that America-First thing that gets the loyalists' blood flowing.
As Edmond veterinarian Tim Kennemer simply notes "I like his ideals."
At the Bricktown Brewery reception for Buchanan recently, the "Crossfire" pundit was his cheerful, combative self. He called Roe v. Wade "that abomination," the conflict in Kosovo "a presidential war," Democrats and
Republicans "a one-party establishment controlled by big money" and the forthcoming U.S.-China trade pact "a complete sellout."
But, alas, Buchananisms don't cut it for Kennemer and Charlie Meadows of Guthrie, a small business owner. Their battle cry of "Go, Pat, Go" lacks oomph these days. Not because of Buchanan's decision to switch over to the Reform Party.
Rather, they're confused about the new gal in his life. Lenora. Make that Dr. Fulani. The new honorary co-chairwoman of Buchanan's campaign. Lenora P. Fulani is an the African-American Marxist, gay rights proponent and abortion rights supporter.
For die-hard patriots like Meadows, it was time for a mutiny.
He canceled his plans to attend the Bricktown event and uninvited several of his guests when he learned Fulani was the latest addition to Team Buchanan.
Kennemer was also a no-show. The doc admits that he likes the old Pat better. The ardent pro-lifer who didn't form odd couple alliances.
To me, the reception seemed the ideal setting to spring a pop quiz on Buchanan. Not along the lines of "Who is the prime minister of Estonia?" but "What's a good conservative like you doing with a woman like that?"
Here's how Pat answered: She endorsed me. We need her help to reach out to black voters. She's not paid for her work. Don't worry, I will never compromise my principles.
Here's what that translates into: I need a strategy to trump Trump.
Billionaire Donald Trump is toying with becoming the Reform Party's presidential nominee. Trump, a man largely known by the casinos he builds and the marriage vows he breaks, can single-handedly finance a campaign to get his name on ballots from coast to coast.
Buchanan should be concerned.
And in Fulani, a leading activist in the Reform Party, he has a force of nature. In 1988, when she ran for president as an independent candidate, she became the first woman to get on the ballot in all 50 states.
It took a grassroots army collecting a million signatures to accomplish that feat.
The spunky lady with the funky name made history.
In New Hampshire, the mecca of presidential primaries, one activist is confident that this is an inspired move.
Ted Maravelias, a volunteer in Buchanan's campaign, deems the merger with Fulani "a stroke of brilliance."
"It will neutralize misconceptions that he is a racist, sexist and homophobe. We need her help to get Pat on the ballot," says Maravelias.
I agree. But Kennemer and Meadows are right to have second thoughts. Their hero, after all, is taking the road less traveled to arrive at the White House.
They need time to adjust to his unusual traveling companion. Meanwhile, Buchanan better use his champion debating skills to encourage and retain his conservative base. His message to the pitchfork peasants could be: Trust me, then lock and load. Donning a red, white, and blue boa wouldn't hurt, either.
This column appeared in The Guthrie News Leader on November 28, 1999.
Isabel Lyman lives in Edmond, Oklahoma. A former editorial columnist for the Daily Hampshire Gazette of Northampton, Massachusetts, her views have appeared in various national publications, including the Wall Street Journal and Investors Business Daily. She may be contacted via e-mail by clicking here.
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