Christmas 2018: Not the Worst of Times

By Patrick J. Buchanan

“Deck the halls with boughs of holly,” goes the old Christmas carol. “‘Tis the season to be jolly.” Yet if there were a couplet less befitting the mood of this capital city, I am unaware of it.

“The wheels are coming off,” was a common commentary on the Trump presidency on Sunday’s talk shows. And the ostensible causes of what is looking like a panic in the political establishment?

The December crash of the stock and bond markets, the worst since the Great Recession. The shutdown of a fourth of the U.S. government over the Trump border wall. The president’s decision to pull 2,200 troops out of Syria. Resignation, in protest of Donald Trump’s treatment of U.S. allies, by Secretary of Defense James Mattis.

But there has to be more to it than this. For America has endured, in the lifetime of its older generations, far worse Christmases than this.

By Christmas 1941, America had just suffered the worst attack in her history. At Pearl Harbor, on Dec. 7, some 2,400 soldiers, sailors and Marines had died, six battleships were destroyed or crippled, and scores of warplanes were smashed on their runways.

By Christmas 1941, the Japanese had landed in the Philippines where, in six months, they would inflict on the United States the worst military defeat in its history with the loss of 23,000 troops killed or captured, most of them on Bataan Peninsula and the island fortress of Corregidor.

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Franklin Roosevelt had temporarily abandoned the Philippines as indefensible, as they were on the far side of the Pacific, and had adopted a “Europe First” strategy, believing Nazi Germany to be the greater threat.

For, by Christmas 1941, Hitler controlled all of Europe from the Pyrenees and the Atlantic to the suburbs of Leningrad and Moscow, and from northern Norway above the Arctic Circle to the Western Sahara.

Beyond Hitler’s empire lay Stalin’s. Beyond that lay Japan’s Empire of the Sun, which occupied Taiwan, Korea, Manchuria, the coast of China and much of Southeast Asia.

By Christmas 1941, a Japanese attack on the Malay Peninsula was underway that would lead to the surrender of Singapore in February, the greatest strategic defeat ever suffered by the British empire.

Nine years later, at Christmas 1950, thousands of American troops were being evacuated from Hungnam, the North Korean port city to which they had retreated before hordes of Chinese troops.

Veterans of Mao’s revolution had been sent to drive Gen. Douglas MacArthur’s forces away from the Yalu River on China’s border, and back across the 38th parallel into South Korea.

The Korean War would end in bloody stalemate, after Harry Truman, facing defeat, declined to run again and left office with only a fourth of the nation behind him, and his nemesis Sen. Joe McCarthy victorious and exultant in 1952, along with President Eisenhower and Richard Nixon.

Does our situation at Christmas 2018 remotely compare in gravity with those times? Does whether Bashar Assad and his Russian and Iranian allies prevail in Syria remotely compare in seriousness with whether Hitler or his former ally and successor in tyranny, Stalin, would prevail?

An unacknowledged cause of establishment frustration and rage at Trump’s pullout from Syria and Afghanistan is the growing realization that the post-Cold War new world order it has sought and still seeks to create is likely never to be. Indeed, it is now visibly slipping away. The American people refuse to subscribe to its global agenda.

They will not pay the price in blood, treasure and distraction from our own troubles here at home. Trump’s victory was America’s way of saying, “Goodbye to all that!” And it is this dawning recognition that helps explain the establishment’s exasperation.

While cable news and social media are on fire over the shutdown and the pullout from Syria, the Silent Majority, one imagines, is more focused on an earlier event, 2,000 years ago, that has made a far greater impact upon mankind, and that yet inspires hope that, in the end, all can be well. That event was perhaps best described in the last Advent gospel of Luke:

“And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.”

And a Merry Christmas to all.

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Trump — Middle American Radical

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

By Patrick J. Buchanan

President Trump is the leader of America’s conservative party.

Yet not even his allies would describe him as a conservative in the tradition of Robert Taft, Russell Kirk or William F. Buckley.

In the primaries of 2016, all his rivals claimed the mantle of Mr. Conservative, Ronald Reagan. Yet Trump captured the party’s heart.

Who, then, and what is Donald Trump?

In a Federalist essay, “Trump Isn’t a Conservative — And That’s a Good Thing,” Frank Cannon comes close to the mark.

Trump, he writes, “would more accurately be described as a ‘radical anti-progressive'” who is “at war with the progressives who have co-opted American civil society.” Moreover, Trump “is willing to go further than any other previous conservative to defeat them.”

Many “elite conservatives,” writes Cannon, believe the “bedrock institutions” they treasure are “not subject to the same infectious politicization to which the rest of society has succumbed.”

This belief is naive, says Cannon, “ridiculous on its face.”

“Radical anti-progressives” recognize that many institutions — the academy, media, entertainment and the courts — have been co-opted and corrupted by the left. And as these institutions are not what they once were, they no longer deserve the respect they once had.

Yet most conservatives will only go so far in criticizing these institutions. We see this in how cradle Catholics find it difficult to criticize the Church in which they were birthed and raised, despite scandals and alterations in the liturgy and doctrine.

Trump sees many institutions as fortresses lately captured by radical progressives that must be attacked and besieged if they are to be recaptured and liberated. Cannon deals with three such politicized institutions: the media, the NFL and the courts.

Trump does not attack freedom of the press but rather the moral authority and legitimacy of co-opted media institutions. It is what CNN has become, not what CNN was, that Trump disrespects.

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These people are political enemies posturing as journalists who create “fake news” to destroy me, says Trump. Enraged media, responding, reveal themselves to be not far removed from what Trump says they are.

And, since Trump, media credibility has plummeted.

Before 2016, the NFL was an untouchable. When the league demanded that North Carolina accept the radical transgender agenda or face NFL sanctions, the Tar Heel State capitulated. When Arizona declined to make Martin Luther King’s birthday a holiday in 1990, the NFL took away the Super Bowl. The Sun State caved.

This year, the league demanded respect for the beliefs and behavior of NFL players insulting Old Glory by “taking a knee” during the national anthem.

Many conservative politicians and commentators, fearing the NFL’s almost mythic popularity in Middle America, remained mute.

But believing instinctively America would side with him, Trump delivered a full-throated defense of the flag and called for kicking the kneelers off the field, out of the game, and off the team.

“Fire them!” Trump bellowed.

And Trump triumphed. The NFL lost fans and viewers. The players ended the protests. No one took a knee at the Super Bowl.

Before Trump, the FBI was sacrosanct. But Trump savaged an insiders’ cabal at the top of the FBI he saw as having plotted to defeat him.

Trump has not attacked an independent judiciary, but courts like the Ninth Circuit, controlled by progressives and abusing their offices to advance progressive goals, and federal judges using lifetime tenure and political immunity to usurp powers that belong to the president — on immigration, for example.

Among the reasons Congress is disrespected is that it let the Supreme Court seize its power over social policy and convert itself into a judicial dictatorship — above Congress.

Trump is no Beltway conservative, writes Cannon.

“Trump doesn’t play by these ridiculous rules designed to keep conservatives stuck in a perpetual state of losing — a made-for-CNN version of the undefeated Harlem Globetrotters versus the winless Washington Generals. Trump instead seeks to fight and delegitimize any institution the Left has captured, and rebuild it from the ground up.”

The Trump supporters who most relish the wars he is waging are the “Middle American Radicals,” of whom my columnist-colleague and late friend Sam Francis used to write.

There was a time such as today before in America.

After World War II, as it became clear our long-ruling liberal elites had blundered horribly in trusting Stalin, patriots arose to cleanse our institutions of treason and its fellow travelers.

The Hollywood Ten were exposed and went to jail. Nixon nailed Alger Hiss. Truman used the Smith Act to shut down Stalin’s subsidiary, the Communist Party USA. Spies in the atom bomb program were run down. The Rosenbergs went to the electric chair.

Liberals call it the “Red Scare.” And they are right to do so.

For when the patriots of the Greatest Generation like Jack Kennedy and Richard Nixon and Joe McCarthy came home from the war and went after them, the nation’s Reds had never been so scared in their entire lives.

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Comey & The Saturday Night Massacre

Comey & The Saturday Night Massacre

By Patrick J. Buchanan

History repeats itself, first as tragedy, then as farce, said Marx.

On publication day of my memoir of Richard Nixon’s White House, President Trump fired FBI Director James Comey. Instantly, the media cried “Nixonian,” comparing it to the 1973 Saturday Night Massacre.

Yet, the differences are stark.

The resignations of Attorney General Elliot Richardson and Deputy Attorney General Bill Ruckelshaus and the firing of Special Prosecutor Archibald Cox came in the middle of an East-West crisis.

On Oct. 6, 1973, the high holy day of Yom Kippur, in a surprise attack, Egyptian troops crossed the Suez Canal and breached Israel’s Bar Lev Line. Syria attacked on the Golan Heights.

Within days, 1,000 Israeli soldiers were dead, hundreds of tanks destroyed, dozens of planes downed by Soviet surface-to-air missiles. As Egypt’s army broke through in the Sinai, there came reports that Moshe Dayan was arming Israeli F-4s with nuclear weapons.

“This is the end of the Third Temple,” Dayan was quoted.

Nixon ordered every U.S. transport that could fly to deliver tanks and planes to Israel. Gen. Ariel Sharon crossed the Canal to the west and rolled north to cut off and kill the Egyptian 3rd army in Sinai.

The Gulf Arabs declared an oil embargo of the United States.

We got reports that nuclear-capable Russian ships were moving through the Dardanelles and Soviet airborne divisions were moving to airfields. U.S. nuclear forces were put on heightened alert.

On Oct. 10, another blow had befallen Nixon’s White House. Vice President Agnew pleaded nolo contendere to tax evasion and resigned.

Nixon immediately named Gerald Ford to replace him.

It was in this environment, with Henry Kissinger in Moscow trying to negotiate a ceasefire in the Mideast, that Cox refused to accept a compromise deal that would give him verified summaries of Nixon’s tapes, but not actual tapes. Democrat Senators Sam Ervin and John Stennis had accepted this compromise, as had Richardson, or so we believed.

Nixon had no choice. As he told me, he could not, in this Cold War crisis, have Soviet Premier Leonid Brezhnev see him back down in the face of defiance by one of his own Cabinet appointees.

If he had to, Nixon told me, he would reach down to a GS-7 at Justice to fire Cox: “We can’t have that viper sleeping in the bed with us.”

That Saturday night, I told friends, next week will bring resolutions of impeachment in the House. And so it did.

How do Nixon and Trump’s actions differ?

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Where Nixon decapitated his Justice Department and shut down the special prosecutor’s office, Trump simply fired an FBI director who agreed that Trump had every right to do so.

By October 1973, with two dozen Nixon White House, Cabinet and campaign officers convicted or facing indictment and trial, we were steeped in the worst political scandal in U.S. history.

Nothing comparable exists today.

But if President Trump is enraged, he has every right to be.

Since July, the FBI has been investigating alleged Trump campaign collusion with Putin’s Russia to hack the DNC and John Podesta’s email accounts — and produced zilch. As of January, ex-CIA Director Mike Morell and ex-DNI James Clapper said no collusion had been found.

Yet every day we hear Democrats and the media bray about a Putin-Trump connection and Russian “control” of the president.

In the early 1950s, they had a term for this. It was called McCarthyism, and its greatest practitioners invariably turned out to be those who had invented the term.

“Justice delayed is justice denied!” applies to presidents, too.

Trump has been under a cloud of a “Russian connection” to him and his campaign for nearly a year. Yet no hard evidence of Trump-Russia collusion in the election has been produced.

Is not the endless airing of unproven allegations inherently un-American?

In 1973, NBC’s John Chancellor suggested the ouster of Richardson, Ruckelshaus and Cox was the “most serious constitutional crisis” in U.S. history, passing over the secession of 11 Southern states and a Civil War that cost 620,000 lives. One London reporter said that “the whiff of the Gestapo was in the clear October air.”

We see a similar hysteria rising today.

Yet that was not a constitutional crisis then, and the mandated early retirement of Jim Comey is not a constitutional crisis now.

And that the mainstream media are equating “Russia-gate” and Watergate tells you what is afoot.

Trump is hated by this city, which gave him 4 percent of its votes, as much as Nixon was. And the deep-state determination to bring him down is as great as it was with Nixon.

By 1968, the liberal establishment had lost the mandate it had held since 1933, but not lost its ability to wound and kill presidents.

Though Nixon won 49 states, that establishment took him down. Though Ronald Reagan won 49 states, that establishment almost took him down in the Iran-Contra affair.

And that is the end they have in mind for President Trump.