Are Globalists Plotting a Counter-Revolution?

Are Globalists Plotting a Counter-Revolution?

By Patrick J. Buchanan

On meeting with the EU’s Jean-Claude Juncker last month, Donald Trump tweeted: “Both the U.S. and the E.U. drop all Tariffs, Barriers and Subsidies! That would finally be Free Market and Fair Trade.”

Did Larry Kudlow somehow get access to Trump’s phone?

We know not. But, on hearing this, Steve Forbes, Stephen Moore and Arthur Laffer broke into the “Hallelujah” chorus of Handel’s “Messiah.”

“Amen,” they thundered in The New York Times.

Trump should declare “total trade disarmament” to be national policy and make free trade his “legacy” to America. Such a proclamation, they wrote, would assure Trump the “moral high ground” in the global debate and transform him from “evil disrupter of international commerce to potential savior.”

For free trade is always and ever a “win-win for trading partners.”

To read the Times op-ed is to appreciate that what we are dealing with here is an ideology, a political religion, a creed, a cult.

For consider the fruits of free trade policy during the last 25 years: the frozen wages of U.S. workers, $12 trillion in U.S. trade deficits, 55,000 factories lost, 6 million manufacturing jobs gone, China surpassing the U.S in manufacturing, all causing a backlash that pushed a political novice to the Republican nomination and into the presidency.

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To maintain a belief in the superiority of free trade to economic patriotism, in the face of such results, is to recognize that this belief system is impervious to contradictory proof.

Still, the enduring enthusiasm of free trade zealots is not the only sign that GOP globalists, having learned nothing and forgotten nothing, are looking to a post-Trump era to resurrect their repudiated dogmas.

In USA Today, Jeffrey Miron, director of economic studies at the libertarian flagship think tank Cato Institute, wrote last week:

“The solution to America’s immigrant problems is open borders. … Open borders means no walls, fences, screenings at airports, ICE … deportations, detention centers or immigration courts.”

And what would happen after we declare open borders?

“Immigrants will not flood into America. … Crime will not skyrocket. … Even if values and culture change, so what? … Who says America’s current values — some of them deeply evil — are the right ones?”

Bottom line for Cato’s Miron: If we throw open America’s borders and invite the world to come in and to remake who we are as a nation, “Think about the money we could save and make.”

This is truly economics uber alles, economy before country.

Other open borders and free trade true believers have begun speaking out. Billionaire industrialist Charles Koch, a megadonor to the GOP, has just lashed out at Trump as “divisive” and denounced the “rise in protectionism.”

Nations, organizations and individuals, said Koch, “are doing whatever they can to close themselves off from the new, hold onto the past and prevent change.”

He added, “This is a natural tendency, but it is a destructive one.”

In a pair of tweets, Trump fired back:

“The globalist Koch Brothers, who have become a total joke in real Republican circles, are against Strong Borders and Powerful Trade. I never sought their support because I don’t need their money or bad ideas. I made them richer.

“Their network is highly overrated, I have beaten them at every turn. They want to protect their companies outside the U.S. from being taxed, I’m for America First and the American Worker — a puppet for no one. Two nice guys with bad ideas. Make America Great Again!”

The billionaire Koch brothers, Charles and David, are threatening to have their network, Americans for Prosperity, withhold funding from GOP candidates who echo Trump on immigration and trade.

The open borders, free trade ideology of the Kochs, the Cato Institute, and such supply-siders as Moore, Forbes and Laffer, have deep roots in the Republican Party establishment.

Milton Friedman was of this school, as was the longtime editorial page editor of The Wall Street Journal, Bob Bartley, who for years pushed for a constitutional amendment declaring, “There shall be open borders.”

Bartley, somewhat prematurely, predicted that the nation-state was “finished” in the New World Order. Yet, today, as tribalism and nationalism are making a comeback, it looks more like the transnational “New World Order” that may be headed for the dumpster.

As long as Trump is in the White House and the party base is so viscerally behind him and his America First agenda, a renunciation of tariffs or a return to globalism is dead.

But what happens after Trump? Who and what comes next?

Republican recidivism — a return to the rejected open borders, free trade agenda of the Bush Republicans — would ignite a firestorm of protest that would tear the party of Trump apart.

Yet, while these ideas have lost Middle America, they are alive and well among the establishment elites of both parties, who have also not given up on a foreign policy of using America’s economic and military power to attempt to convert mankind to democracy.

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Would War With Iran Doom Trump?

By Patrick J. Buchanan

A war with Iran would define, consume and potentially destroy the Trump presidency, but exhilarate the neocon never-Trumpers who most despise the man.

Why, then, is President Donald Trump toying with such an idea?

Looking back at Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria and Yemen, wars we began or plunged into, what was gained to justify the cost in American blood and treasure, and the death and destruction we visited upon that region? How has our great rival China suffered by not getting involved?

Oil is the vital strategic Western interest in the Persian Gulf. Yet a war with Iran would imperil, not secure, that interest.

Mass migration from the Islamic world, seeded with terrorist cells, is the greatest threat to Europe from the Middle East. But would not a U.S. war with Iran increase rather than diminish that threat?

Would the millions of Iranians who oppose the mullahs’ rule welcome U.S. air and naval attacks on their country? Or would they rally behind the regime and the armed forces dying to defend their country?

“Mr Trump, don’t play with the lion’s tail,” warned President Hassan Rouhani in July: “War with Iran is the mother of all wars.”

But he added, “Peace with Iran is the mother of all peace.”

Rouhani left wide open the possibility of peaceful settlement.

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Trump’s all-caps retort virtually invoked Hiroshima: “Never, ever threaten the United States again or you will suffer consequences the like of which few throughout history have suffered before.”

When Trump shifted and blurted out that he was open to talks — “No preconditions. They want to meet? I’ll meet.” — Secretary of State Mike Pompeo contradicted him: Before any meeting, Iran must change the way they treat their people and “reduce their malign behavior.”

We thus appear to be steering into a head-on collision.

For now that Trump has trashed the nuclear deal and is reimposing sanctions, Iran’s economy has taken a marked turn for the worse.

Its currency has lost half its value. Inflation is surging toward Venezuelan levels. New U.S. sanctions will be imposed this week and again in November. Major foreign investments are being canceled. U.S. allies are looking at secondary sanctions if they do not join the strangulation of Iran.

Tehran’s oil exports are plummeting along with national revenue.

Demonstrations and riots are increasingly common.

Rouhani and his allies who bet their futures on a deal to forego nuclear weapons in return for an opening to the West look like fools to their people. And the Revolutionary Guard Corps that warned against trusting the Americans appears vindicated.

Iran’s leaders have now threatened that when their oil is no longer flowing freely and abundantly, Arab oil may be blocked from passing through the Strait of Hormuz out to Asia and the West.

Any such action would ignite an explosion in oil prices worldwide and force a U.S. naval response to reopen the strait. A war would be on.

Yet the correlation of political forces is heavily weighted in favor of driving Tehran to the wall. In the U.S., Iran has countless adversaries and almost no advocates. In the Middle East, Israelis, Saudis and the UAE would relish having us smash Iran.

Among the four who will decide on war, Trump, Pompeo and John Bolton have spoken of regime change, while Defense Secretary James Mattis has lately renounced any such strategic goal.

With Israel launching attacks against Iranian-backed militia in Syria, U.S. ships and Iranian speedboats constantly at close quarters in the Gulf, and Houthi rebels in Yemen firing at Saudi tankers in the Bab el-Mandeb entrance to the Red Sea, a military clash seems inevitable.

While America no longer has the ground forces to invade and occupy an Iran four times the size of Iraq, in any such war, the U.S., with its vastly superior air, naval and missile forces, would swiftly prevail.

But if Iran called into play Hezbollah, the Shiite militias in Syria and Iraq, and sectarian allies inside the Arab states, U.S. casualties would mount and the Middle East could descend into the kind of civil-sectarian war we have seen in Syria these last six years.

Any shooting war in the Persian Gulf could see insurance rates for tankers soar, a constriction of oil exports, and surging prices, plunging us into a worldwide recession for which one man would be held responsible: Donald Trump.

How good would that be for the GOP or President Trump in 2020?

And when the shooting stopped, would there be installed in Iran a liberal democracy, or would it be as it was in Hosni Mubarak’s Egypt, with first the religious zealots taking power, and then the men with guns.

If we start a war with Iran, on top of the five in which we are engaged still, then the party that offers to extricate us will be listened to, as Trump was listened to, when he promised to extricate us from the forever wars of the Middle East.

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Is a Trump Court in the Making?

Is a Trump Court in the Making?

By Patrick J. Buchanan

If Mitch McConnell’s Senate can confirm his new nominee for the Supreme Court, President Donald Trump may have completed the capture of all three branches of the U.S. government for the Republican Party.

Not bad for a rookie.

And the lamentations on the left are surely justified.

For liberalism’s great strategic ally and asset of 60 years, the judicial dictatorship erected by Earl Warren and associates, may be about to fall.

Judicial supremacy may be on the way out.

Another constitutionalist on the court, in the tradition of Antonin Scalia, could ring down the curtain on the social revolution the court has been imposing since the salad days of Chief Justice Earl Warren.

Among the changes Warren’s court and its successors succeeded in imposing: The de-Christianization of all public institutions in America. The social war of the 1970s over forced busing for racial balance in the public schools. The creation, ex nihilo, of new constitutional rights, first to an abortion, and then to homosexuality and same-sex marriage.

But while the confirmation of a new Trump justice may bring an end to the revolution, it will return power to where it belongs in a constitutional republic, with elected legislators and elected executives.

There will not likely be any sudden and radical rollback of changes wrought in six decades. For some of those changes have become embedded in the public consciousness as the new normal, and will endure.

Roe v. Wade may be challenged. But even if overturned, states like New York and California, which had liberalized abortion laws before Roe, are not likely to re-criminalize it.

Affirmative action, however, racial discrimination against white males to promote diversity, may be on the chopping block.

Why did it take until Trump to restore constitutionalism to the Supreme Court, when the Warren Court had been a blazing issue since the 1950s and Republicans held the presidency for 28 years from 1968 to 2016, and had managed to elevate 12 justices?

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Answer: Every GOP president save Bush II, has appointed justices who grew to believe the court had a right to remake America to conform to their image of the ideal liberal democracy. And they so acted.

Said Ike ruefully on his retirement: Two of my worst mistakes are sitting up there on the Supreme Court.

The two were Warren, who, as California’s governor, had pushed to put Japanese-Americans in concentration camps in World War II, and William Brennan, the most radical justice to sit in over half a century.

Nixon came to office committed to rein in the court by naming “strict constructionists.” Yet three of the four justices he named would vote for Roe v. Wade in 1973. Harry Blackmun, whom Nixon rushed onto the bench after his Southern nominees Clement Haynsworth and G. Harrold Carswell were trashed and rejected, became the author of Roe.

Nixon’s fourth nominee, William Rehnquist, was his best, a brilliant jurist whom Reagan himself would elevate to chief justice.

Gerald Ford’s sole nominee, John Paul Stevens, confirmed 97-0 in the Senate, turned left soon after his confirmation to join Blackmun.

Reagan named Sandra Day O’Connor, the first woman, and Scalia.

But when his effort to elevate Judge Robert Bork failed, he turned to Anthony Kennedy of California, whose seat Trump is filling today.

Over 30 years, Kennedy’s vote proved decisive in 5-4 decisions to uphold Roe, to discover homosexuality as a constitutional right, and to raise same-sex unions to the legal level of traditional marriage.

George H.W. Bush’s first choice was David Souter, who also turned left to join the liberal bloc. Bush I got it right on his second try in 1991, naming the constitutionalist Clarence Thomas.

As for George W. Bush, he chose John Roberts as Chief Justice to succeed Rehnquist and then Sam Alito as associate justice.

Thus, of 15 justices Republican Presidents have named since World War II, five — Warren, Brennan, Blackmun, Stevens and Souter — became liberal activists. Kennedy and Sandra Day O’Connor, both Reagan choices, became swing justices and voted with the court’s liberals on critical social issues.

Democratic presidents have done far better by their constituents.

Of seven justices named by LBJ, Clinton and Obama, every one — Thurgood Marshall, Arthur Goldberg, Abe Fortas, Ruth Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Elena Kagan, Sonia Sotomayor — turned out to be predictably and consistently liberal.

Clearly, the advisers to George W. Bush and President Trump looked back at the successes and the failures of previous GOP presidents, and have done a far better job of vetting nominees. They reached outside for counsel.

It was Trump’s 2016 pledge to draw his nominees to the high court from a list of 20 judges and scholars supplied by the Federalist Society that reassured conservatives and helped him unite his party and get elected.

On the issue of judicial nominees and justices to the Supreme Court, Trump has kept his word.

And the next Supreme Court may one day be called the Trump Court.

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The Never-Trumpers Are Never Coming Back

The Never-Trumpers Are Never Coming Back

By Patrick J. Buchanan

With never-Trump conservatives bailing on the GOP and crying out for the Party of Pelosi to save us, some painful truths need to be restated.

The Republican Party of Bush I and II, of Bob Dole and John McCain, is history. It’s not coming back. Unlike the Bourbons after the Revolution and the Terror, after Napoleon and the Empire, no restoration is in the cards.

It is over. The GOP’s policies of recent decades — the New World Order of George H.W. Bush, the crusades for democracy of Bush II — failed, and are seen as having failed. With Trump’s capture of the party they were repudiated.

There will be no turning back.

What were the historic blunders?

It was not supporting tax cuts, deregulation, conservative judges and justices, or funding a defense second to none. Donald Trump has delivered on these as well as any president since Reagan.

The failures that killed the Bush party, and that represented departures from Reaganite traditionalism and conservatism, are:

First, the hubristic drive, despite the warnings of statesmen like George Kennan, to exploit our Cold War victory and pursue a policy of permanent containment of a Russia that had lost a third of its territory and half its people.

We moved NATO into Eastern Europe and the Baltic, onto her doorstep. We abrogated the ABM treaty Nixon had negotiated and moved defensive missiles into Poland. John McCain pushed to bring Ukraine and Georgia into NATO, and even to send U.S. forces to face off against Russian troops.

Thus we got a second Cold War that need never have begun and that our allies seem content to let us fight alone.

Europe today is not afraid of Vladimir Putin reaching the Rhine. Europe is afraid of Africa and the Middle East reaching the Danube.

Let the Americans, who relish playing empire, pay for NATO.

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Second, in a reflexive response to 9/11, we invaded Afghanistan and Iraq, dumped over the regime in Libya, armed rebels to overthrow Bashar Assad in Syria, and backed Saudi intervention in a Yemeni civil war, creating a humanitarian crisis in that poorest of Arab countries that is exceeded in horrors only by the Syrian civil war.

Since Y2K, hundreds of thousands in the Middle East have perished, the ancient Christian community has all but ceased to exist, and the refugees now number in the millions. What are the gains for democracy from these wars, all backed enthusiastically by the Republican establishment?

Why are the people responsible for these wars still being listened to, rather than confessing their sins at second-thoughts conferences?

The GOP elite also played a crucial role in throwing open U.S. markets to China and ceding transnational corporations full freedom to move factories and jobs there and ship their Chinese-made goods back here, free of charge.

Result: In three decades, the U.S. has run up $12 trillion in merchandise trade deficits — $4 trillion with China — and Beijing’s revenue from the USA has more than covered China’s defense budget for most of those years.

Beijing swept past Italy, France, Britain, Germany and Japan to become the premier manufacturing power on earth and a geo-strategic rival. Now, from East Africa to Sri Lanka in the Indian Ocean, and from the South and East China Sea to Taiwan, Beijing’s expansionist ambitions have become clear.

And where are the Republicans responsible for building up this potentially malevolent power that thieves our technology? Talking of building a Reagan-like Navy to contain the mammoth they nourished.

Since the Cold War, America’s elites have been exhibiting symptoms of that congenital blindness associated since Rome with declining and falling empires.

While GOP grass roots have begged for measures to control our bleeding southern border, they were regularly denounced as nativists by party elites, many of whom are now backing Trump’s wall.

For decades, America’s elites failed to see that the transnational moment of the post-Cold War era was passing and an era of rising nationalism and tribalism was at hand.

“We live in a time,” said U2’s Bono this week, “when institutions as vital to human progress as the United Nations are under attack.”

The institutions Bono referenced — the U.N., EU, NATO — all trace their roots to the 1940s and 1950s, a time that bears little resemblance to the era we have entered, an era marked by a spreading and desperate desire of peoples everywhere to preserve who and what they are.

No, Trump didn’t start the fire.

The world was ablaze with tribalism and was raising up authoritarians to realize nationalist ends — Xi Jinping, Putin, Narendra Modi in India, Erdogan in Turkey, Gen. el-Sissi in Egypt — before he came down that escalator.

And so the elites who were in charge when the fire broke out, and who failed to respond and refused even to recognize it, and who now denounce Trump for how he is coping with it, are unlikely to be called upon again to lead this republic.

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Boehner’s Right — It’s Trump’s Party Now

Boehner's Right -- It's Trump's Party Now

By Patrick J. Buchanan

“There is no Republican Party. There’s a Trump party,” John Boehner told a Mackinac, Michigan, gathering of the GOP faithful last week. “The Republican Party is kind of taking a nap somewhere.”

Ex-Speaker Boehner should probably re-check the old party’s pulse, for the Bush-Boehner GOP may not just be napping. It could be comatose.

Consider. That GOP was dedicated to free trade, open borders, amnesty and using U.S. power to punish aggressors and “end tyranny in our world.” That GOP set out to create a new world order where dictatorships were threatened with “regime change,” and democratic capitalism was the new order of the ages.

Yet, Donald Trump captured the Republican nomination and won the presidency — by saying goodbye to all that.

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How probable is it that a future GOP presidential candidate will revive the Bush-Boehner agenda the party rejected in 2016, run on it, win, and impose it on the party and nation?

Bush-Boehner Republicanism appears to be as dead today as was Harding-Coolidge Republicanism after 1933. And if Trumpism is not the future of the GOP, it is hard to see what a promising GOP agenda might look like.

A brief history: In seven elections starting in 1992, Republicans won the presidency three times, but the popular vote only once, in 2004, when George W. was still basking in his “Mission Accomplished” in Iraq.

What fractured and overwhelmed the Bush-Boehner Republican Party?

First, demography. The mass immigration of Third World peoples that began with the 1965 immigration act, and the decline in the birth rate of native-born Americans, began to swamp the Nixon-Reagan New Majority.

Second, the collapse of the Soviet Empire and USSR removed the party’s great unifying cause from Eisenhower to Bush I — the Cold War.

After the Red Army went home, “America First” had a new appeal!

Third, faithful to the free trade cult in which they were raised, Republicans championed NAFTA, the WTO, and MFN for China.

Historians will look back in amazement at how America’s free trade zealots gave away the greatest manufacturing base the world had ever seen, as they quoted approvingly 18th- and 19th-century scribblers whose ideas had done so much to bring down their own country, Great Britain.

Between 1997 and 2017, the EU ran up, at America’s expense, trade surpluses in goods in excess of $2 trillion, while we also picked up the bill for Europe’s defense.

Between 1992 and 2016, China was allowed to run $4 trillion in trade surpluses at our expense, converting herself into the world’s first manufacturing power and denuding America of tens of thousands of factories and millions of manufacturing jobs.

In Trump’s first year, China’s trade surplus with the United States hit $375 billion. From January to March of this year, our trade deficit with China was running at close to the same astronomical rate.

“Trade deficits do not matter,” we hear from the economists.

They might explain that to Ohio, Michigan and Pennsylvania.

And perhaps someone can explain the wisdom of handing 4 percent of our GDP each year to an adversary nation, as U.S. admirals talk tough about confronting that adversary nation over islets and reefs in the South China Sea.

Why are we enriching and empowering so exorbitantly those whom we are told we may have to fight?

Fourth, under Bush II and Obama, the U.S. intervened massively in the Near and Middle East — in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Yemen. And the forces that pushed up into those conflicts, and so disillusioned the nation that it elected Barack Obama, are back, pushing for a new war, on Iran. They may get this war, too.

Yet, given the anti-interventionist and anti-war stance of Trump’s winning campaign, and of the Bernie Sanders campaign, U.S. involvement in Middle East wars seems less America’s future than it does her past.

After his 16 months in office, it appears as though the Trump presidency, no matter how brief, is going to be a watershed moment in U.S. and world history, and in the future of the GOP.

The world is changing. NATO and the EU are showing their age. Nationalism, populism and tribalism are pervasive on the Old Continent. And America’s willingness to bear the burden of Europe’s defense, as they ride virtually free, is visibly waning.

It is hard to see why or how Republicans are ever again going to be the Bush-Boehner party that preceded the rise of Trump.

What would be the argument for returning to a repudiated platform?

Trump not only defeated 16 Bush Republicans, he presented an agenda on immigration, border security, amnesty, intervention abroad, the Middle East, NAFTA, free trade, Putin and Russia that was a rejection of what the Bush-Boehner Party had stood for and what its presidential candidates in 2008 and 2012, John McCain and Mitt Romney, had run on.

If the Republican Party is “napping,” let it slumber on, undisturbed, for its time has come and gone. We are in a new world now.

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With Nixon in ’68: The Year America Came Apart

With Nixon in ’68: The Year America Came Apart

By Patrick J. Buchanan – The Wall Street Journal

On the night of Jan. 31, 1968, as tens of thousands of Viet Cong guerrillas attacked the major cities of South Vietnam, in violation of a Lunar New Year truce, Richard Nixon was flying secretly to Boston. At 29, and Nixon’s longest-serving aide, I was with him. Advance man Nick Ruwe met us at Logan Airport and drove us to a motel in Nashua, N.H., where Nixon had been preregistered as “ Benjamin Chapman.” The next day, only hours before the deadline, Nixon filed in Concord to enter the state’s Republican primary, just six weeks away.

On Feb. 2, the New York Times story “Nixon Announces for Presidency” was dwarfed by a giant headline: “Street Clashes Go On in Vietnam; Foe Still Holds Parts of Cities; Johnson Pledges Never to Yield.” Dominating the page was the photograph of a captured Viet Cong, hands tied, being executed on a Saigon street by South Vietnam’s national police chief, firing a bullet into his head from inches away. Eddie Adams’s photo would win the Pulitzer Prize.

America’s most divisive year since the Civil War had begun.

The author and Nixon on a plane in 1968.
The author and Nixon on a plane in 1968. PHOTO: COURTESY NIXON PRESIDENTIAL LIBRARY

Nixon’s lone opponent for the Republican nomination was George Romney, three-term governor of Michigan and a legend at American Motors, where he had promoted the Nash Rambler. Romney had led in the polls in December 1966 and seemed the clear favorite, but by now he was not.

After campaigning in 35 states in 1966, leading the GOP to its greatest off-year victory in congressional races since 1946, Nixon had declared a moratorium on politics and dropped out of sight. Is it wise, I asked him, to cede Romney such a tremendous head start? Sensing what the press would do to Romney, Nixon told me, “Let ’em chew on him for a little while.”

Nixon’s instincts proved right. Romney was unprepared. On pre-campaign swings in 1967 he bickered with the press, and that August he made a fatal blunder. Explaining on a TV show why he was changing his position on the war, Romney said that on a previous visit to Vietnam, “I just had the greatest brainwashing anybody can get” from U.S. generals and diplomats.

The ridicule and mockery were ceaseless and universal. Sen. Eugene McCarthy said that, in Romney’s case, a full brainwashing was unneeded, as “a light rinse would have sufficed.” Romney plummeted in the polls, never to recover.

As Romney spun his wheels in New Hampshire, Nixon ignored his calls to debate, declining even to mention his name. Our polls showed us heading for a 5-1 landslide that would erase the “loser” image that had clung to Nixon since his loss to JFK in 1960 and his defeat in the California governor’s race in 1962.

President Lyndon Johnson announced on March 31, 1968 that he would not seek reelection; above, he works on the speech the day before.
President Lyndon Johnson announced on March 31, 1968 that he would not seek reelection; above, he works on the speech the day before. PHOTO:BOB DAUGHERTY/ASSOCIATED PRESS

With humiliation ahead, Romney abruptly ended his candidacy on Feb. 28, 1968, robbing Nixon of his triumph. What historians call “crazy March” now began. In the Democratic primary in New Hampshire, Sen. McCarthy, running an antiwar protest campaign, got 42% of the vote. Lyndon Johnson won with 49%, though his name was not on the ballot. Inexplicably, the president of the United States had run as a write-in candidate.

Half the McCarthy voters were later identified as pro-war but fed up with LBJ’s indecisive leadership. In January, North Korean commandos had assaulted the Blue House in Seoul and come close to assassinating President Park Chung-hee, and the U.S. spy ship Pueblo had been hijacked and its crew taken hostage by North Korean gunboats. Johnson had done nothing.

The press read into the McCarthy vote a repudiation of the war, and Johnson was now wounded. On March 16, Sen. Robert Kennedy leapt into the race. Speaking a week later in Los Angeles, he stuck the knife deep into his old antagonist, accusing President Johnson of “calling upon the darker impulses of the American spirit.”

On March 21, Gov. Nelson Rockefeller of New York stunned the political world by declaring that he would not challenge Nixon. The anticipated battle inside the Republican Party seemed suddenly settled, just as a three-sided war broke out inside the Democratic Party. Alabama’s Gov. George Wallace had announced he would run as a third-party candidate in the fall, while Kennedy and McCarthy battled for the nomination as they assaulted their own president.

The Tet Offensive was seen as a major American setback in 1968 but the Viet Cong lost huge numbers of troops; above, a Viet Cong soldier awaits interrogation following capture.
The Tet Offensive was seen as a major American setback in 1968 but the Viet Cong lost huge numbers of troops; above, a Viet Cong soldier awaits interrogation following capture. PHOTO: CORBIS/GETTY IMAGES

The Tet Offensive proved a strategic disaster for the Viet Cong, who suffered tens of thousands of dead. But U.S. media portrayed Tet as an American defeat. On “The CBS Evening News,” Walter Cronkite declared Vietnam a “stalemate.”

Nixon moved to update his position. As his writers Ray Price, Dick Whalen and I argued in front of him at his Fifth Avenue apartment in New York on March 30, we got a call from our media folks: LBJ had asked to speak in prime time that Sunday night. Nixon canceled his prepared speech and, leaving for a Wisconsin event, told me to be at the private terminal at La Guardia Sunday to brief him on LBJ’s address to the nation.

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As Johnson was announcing that he would not run, Nixon’s private jet was landing. I reached the airplane door ahead of the press and told him what LBJ had said. Nixon stepped out into the cameras to declare 1968 “the year of the dropout.”

Four days later, the nation was stunned again. Martin Luther King, Jr., in Memphis to support a strike by garbage workers, had been assassinated on a motel balcony. A hundred U.S. cities exploded in rioting, looting and arson. The National Guard was out everywhere. The week long rampage caused a backlash across Middle America, and Wallace’s poll numbers vaulted. Support for Nixon, who went to Atlanta for King’s funeral, sank.

Violence broke across American cities after the April 4, 1968 assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. Above, soldiers stand guard in front of a supermarket on Chicago’s South Side three days later.
Violence broke across American cities after the April 4, 1968 assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. Above, soldiers stand guard in front of a supermarket on Chicago’s South Side three days later. PHOTO: ASSOCIATED PRESS

As the race riots burned out, the worst campus riot of the decade erupted. At my alma mater, Columbia University, student radicals occupied Low Library and Hamilton Hall. They ransacked professors’ offices and took a dean hostage. After a week, the NYPD, with clubs and sweeping arrests, recaptured the university. Nixon declared the uprising “the first major skirmish in a revolutionary struggle to seize the universities of this country and transform them into sanctuaries for radicals and vehicles for revolutionary political and social goals.”

Rockefeller denounced Nixon, reversed himself and entered the race. But polls showed that America’s patience with radicalism was exhausted. The country was with the cops wielding the clubs. Nixon had captured the law-and-order issue. When the Kerner Commission, set up to study the causes of the weeklong Newark and Detroit riots in the “long hot summer” of 1967, blamed “white racism,” Nixon dismissed the report by saying it blamed everyone for the riots but the rioters themselves.

As the Democratic showdown approached in the Oregon primary, the media zeroed in on the revelation that, as attorney general, Kennedy had authorized J. Edgar Hoover to wiretap the now-martyred Martin Luther King Jr. The explosive charge led to Kennedy’s defeat by McCarthy on May 28.

Senator Robert F. Kennedy’s assassination on June 5 further traumatized the country. Above, he campaigns in Portland before the May 28 Oregon primary.
Senator Robert F. Kennedy’s assassination on June 5 further traumatized the country. Above, he campaigns in Portland before the May 28 Oregon primary. PHOTO: BETTMANN ARCHIVE/GETTY IMAGES

I was at Portland’s Benson Hotel that night with Nixon, who had won 70% of the primary vote, crushing both Rockefeller and Reagan. Later in the evening, I was standing in front of the hotel when Bobby Kennedy arrived to concede defeat in the first loss by a Kennedy since JFK entered politics in 1946. Though Bobby had a reputation for being ruthless, he could not have been more gracious in conceding defeat that night.

A week later, I was awakened at 3 a.m. by Jeff Bell, a young aide at Nixon’s campaign office. Bobby had been shot in a Los Angeles hotel kitchen after winning the California primary. Vice President Hubert Humphrey, the favorite after LBJ stood down, was now assured of the nomination.

The surging antiwar movement was demoralized, bitter and angry. Humphrey was seen as a Johnson lackey who would continue the war. Then, just days after Bobby was buried beside JFK at Arlington, Earl Warren resigned as chief justice, and LBJ named his old crony Justice Abe Fortas to replace him. All three wanted to prevent a President Nixon from naming the next chief justice. Senate Republicans aborted the insiders’ deal and rejected Fortas. The Supreme Court wars that would endure into the 21st century had begun.

The Democratic Convention in Chicago was marked by chaos inside on Aug. 28, 1968, as delegates were fractured over the candidates and the party platform....
The Democratic Convention in Chicago was marked by chaos inside on Aug. 28, 1968, as delegates were fractured over the candidates and the party platform…. PHOTO: ASSOCIATED PRESS

One week before the Democratic convention in Chicago, the Soviet Union sent hundreds of Warsaw Pact tanks and 250,000 troops into Czechoslovakia to crush the Prague Spring. As with the seizure of the Pueblo, President Johnson, with a half million U.S. troops now in Vietnam, did nothing.

The stage was set for an explosive Democratic convention in Chicago. I asked Nixon to send me. He agreed. Our listening post was on the 19th floor of the “Comrade Hilton.” I was alone in the suite one night when Norman Mailer walked in with the light-heavyweight champion Jose Torres. As we talked, a commotion erupted outside. A phalanx of cops had marched up Balbo Drive to Michigan Avenue and halted. Suddenly, the cops took off into Grant Park, clubbing the radicals and dragging them to patrol wagons. Mailer and I saw it all from our 19th-floor window. On and on it went, as Torres cursed the cops and I stayed mute. I had been down there at night among the protesters, who were as ugly a crowd as I had seen in the Vietnam era.

When Humphrey left Chicago, the Democratic coalition that had given LBJ a historic landslide in 1964 was shattered. Wallace seemed certain to shear off the electoral votes of the Deep South. The McCarthy-Kennedy wing was enraged over how Mayor Richard Daley’s cops had beaten the protesters. The nation had seen a convention where Democratic delegates cursed one another on the floor as their partisans brawled with police in the streets.

I came back from Chicago and told Nixon that we should side with Daley and the cops. Nixon’s first campaign stop that fall was a motorcade through downtown Chicago, where huge crowds cheered him.

... And the convention was marred by violence outside, as Mayor Richard J. Daley’s forces cracked down violently on protesters.
… And the convention was marred by violence outside, as Mayor Richard J. Daley’s forces cracked down violently on protesters. PHOTO: BETTMANN ARCHIVE/GETTY IMAGES

The Gallup poll in September had Nixon at 43, Humphrey at 28, Wallace at 21. At every campaign stop, Humphrey was shouted down with chants of “Dump the Hump!”, until he came close to breaking down, denouncing his tormentors as “fascists.”

Desperate, Humphrey rolled the dice on Sept. 30 and pledged to halt all U.S. bombing of North Vietnam. The impact was immediate. The heckling and abuse subsided. He began a steady ascent in the polls. His optimism returned, and he staged one of the great comebacks in presidential politics.

Then he caught a break. On Oct. 3, Wallace introduced his running mate, Gen. Curtis LeMay, who had led the firebombing of Tokyo and who told a stunned press that we Americans have “a phobia about nuclear weapons.” To achieve victory in Vietnam, LeMay said, “I would use anything…including nuclear weapons.” Wallace’s voters began to abandon him and move back home to the Democratic Party.

‘The Cold War consensus that had existed from the Berlin blockade of 1948 through the Cuban missile crisis was no more.’

The election ended in a virtual tie, with both candidates receiving roughly 43% of the popular vote. But Nixon had won in the electoral college and was now president-elect of the United States.

What had 1968 wrought?

The American establishment, “the best and the brightest,” had been broken on the wheel of Vietnam. Liberal elites would move to ally themselves with the antiwar left and to denounce as “Nixon’s war” the cause into which they themselves had led the country.

The Cold War consensus that had existed from the Berlin blockade of 1948 through the Cuban missile crisis was no more. The Democratic candidate in 1972 would run on the slogan “Come home, America!” Foreign policy leadership passed from the party of Truman and Kennedy to the party of Nixon and Reagan. After 1968, the word “victory” was rarely heard. The goal now in Vietnam was “peace with honor” or “an end to the war.”

Massive civil disobedience and violent protests would become the new normal. Failed and frustrated extremists would turn to bombings and terrorism. Nixon and Vice President Spiro Agnew would use the radical left and its media enablers as foils to drive a wedge right through FDR’s Democratic coalition, with Nixon calling out his “Great Silent Majority” and Agnew tabling the issue of press power and media bias.

Nixon would be re-elected in 1972 in a 49-state landslide. In four of the five presidential elections after 1968, Nixon’s new majority would crush the Democratic Party. By 1970, six years after Goldwater’s defeat, twice as many Americans would call themselves conservatives as liberals.

As the political wars of 1968 turned American politics upside down, a cultural war had broken out as well. Moral and social issues—abortion, affirmative action, busing, crime, drugs, feminism, gay rights—would tear apart families, communities and the entire nation. The culture wars had begun.

We are another country now, another people. The unity we knew in the Eisenhower-Kennedy era is gone. 1968 was the great divide. 1968 was the turning point.

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Mr. Buchanan, a former presidential candidate, served as an aide to Richard Nixon from January 1966 to August 1974. His books “The Greatest Comeback” and “Nixon’s White House Wars” describe those years.

Posted with permission from  The Wall Street Journal

Is the GOP Staring at Another 1930?

Is the GOP Staring at Another 1930

By Patrick J. Buchanan

After the victory of Donald Trump in 2016, the GOP held the Senate and House, two-thirds of the governorships, and 1,000 more state legislators than they had on the day Barack Obama took office.

“The Republican Party has not been this dominant in 90 years,” went the exultant claim.

A year later, Republicans lost the governorship of Virginia and almost lost the legislature.

Came then the loss of a U.S. Senate seat in ruby-red Alabama.

Tuesday, Democrats captured a House seat in a Pennsylvania district Trump carried by 20 points, and where Democrats had not even fielded a candidate in 2014 and 2016.

Republicans lately congratulating themselves on a dominance not seen since 1928, might revisit what happened to the Class of 1928.

In 1930, Republicans lost 52 House seats, portending the loss of both houses of Congress and the White House in 1932 to FDR who would go on to win four straight terms. For the GOP, the ’30s were the dreadful decade.

Is the GOP staring at another 1930?

Perhaps.

Unlike 1930, though, the nation has not endured a Great Crash or gone through year one of a Great Depression where unemployment hit 10 percent in June, when the Smoot-Hawley tariff was passed.

Today, the economy is moving along smartly. The labor force is larger than it has ever been. Workers are re-entering and seeking jobs. Black and Hispanic unemployment are at record lows. Confidence is high. Our Great Recession is 10 years in the past.

The problem for Republicans may be found in a truism: When the economy is poor, the economy is the issue. When the economy is good, something else is the issue.

A good economy did not save the GOP in the 18th Congressional District of Pennsylvania, where the party’s tax cut was derided by Democrat Conor Lamb as a wealth transfer to the rich. Nor did Lamb hurt himself by implying Republicans were planning to pay for their tax cut by robbing Social Security and Medicare.

Republican candidate Rick Saccone reportedly stopped using the tax cut as his major issue in his TV ads that ran closest to Election Day.

Other factors point to a bad day for the GOP on Nov. 6.

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Republican retirees from Congress far outnumber Democratic retirees.

Democratic turnout has been reaching record highs, while GOP turnout has been normal. And even in the special elections Democrats have lost, they are outperforming the Democrats who lost in 2016.

Relying upon hostility to Trump to bring out the resistance, savvy Democrats are taking on the political coloration of their districts and states, rather than of the national party of Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and Bernie Sanders.

There is, however, troubling news from Pennsylvania for Nancy Pelosi.

Lamb promised voters of “Deerhunter” country he would not support San Francisco Nancy for speaker. Look for Democrats in districts Trump carried to begin talking of the “need for new leaders.”

Trump seems fated to be the primary target of attack this fall, and not only in districts Clinton carried. For an average of national polls shows that disapproval of his presidency is 14 points higher than his approval rating. And this is when the economy is turning up good numbers not seen in this century.

At the national level, Democrats will turn 2018 into a referendum on the Trump persona and Trump presidency. For while the Trump base is loyal and solid, the anti-Trump base is equally so, and appreciably larger.

Lest we forget, Hillary Clinton, not the most charismatic candidate the Democrats have put up in decades, beat Trump by nearly 3 million votes. And while Trump pierced the famous “blue wall” — the 18 states that voted Democratic in every presidential election between 1992 and 2012 — the demographic trend that created the wall is still working.

White voters, who tend to vote Republican, continue to decline as a share of the population. Peoples of color, who vote 70 to 90 percent Democratic in presidential elections, are now nearly 40 percent of the nation.

Mass migration into America is re-enforcing that trend.

Moreover, millennials, who have many elections ahead of them, are more liberal than seniors, who have fewer elections ahead and are the GOP base.

But if Republicans face problems of demography, the party of “tax and tax, spend and spend, and elect and elect” appears to be reaching the end of its tether. Federal deficits are rising toward trillion-dollar levels.

The five largest items in the budget — Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, defense, interest on the debt — are rising inexorably. And there appears no disposition in either party to cut back on spending for education, college loans, food stamps, housing assistance or infrastructure.

If the Fed did not retain the power to control the money supply, then the fate of New Jersey and Illinois, and beyond, of Greece and Argentina, would become our national destiny.

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