For a long time, old Uncle Pat Buchanan has been my favorite misogynistic anti-Semite. And credit where it’s due: he is definitely America’s most polite racist. Pat lives happily in Leave-It-To-Beaver-land, where the men are strong, the women know it and the children say thank you. They’re all nice and white, go to Church together on Sunday and then, for a treat, have breakfast at Howard Johnson’s.
For years, he’s been a regular panelist on MSNBC shows but now they want Pat to go away and stay in his own yard, because his new book has offensive chapter titles.
They can make a case for their actions. I know that. Even though there’s nothing new here. He’s been called ‘racist’ and ‘homophobic’ and ‘anti semitic’ on air many times – because he is. But he was not brought on air to speak for their brand or their network (were that the case, it would have been an entirely different thing); he was put on air to provide political commentary. And in that, he is one of the best.
So I’m pissed off this time: warts and all, Buchanan is one of the few in cable-TV land who isn’t entirely enthralled with himself and who is not vapid. He is also one of the sharpest political observers in cable land. He has keen insights and his institutional memory of American history – political and otherwise – is sharp and always at hand. He is classically educated, a rarity in teevee land, and that informs his commentary as well.
I don’t need MSNBC to insulate me from Buchanan. I can separate the baby from the bath water just fine. And I’ll wager so can other viewers.
UPDATE: Buchanan has an explanatory column up at The American Conservative. Quite a few commenters, many of htem liberals, agree with me. This one is pretty representative:
Paulo, on February 17th, 2012 at 10:28 am said:
As a good Progressive, gay man I happen to disagree with Mr. Buchanan almost constantly. I do however buy his books and on the rare occasions when I wander into the cesspit of cable news I listen to his opinions. He makes me think rather and in this soundbite driven would that is a true gift.
When I walk away from a Buchanan argument I feel called to do my homework, to iron out and resolve my moral and political stances in response to his critiques. I have seen enough value in this that I use his book on WWII as critical reading for a small history class I teach. As I tell my students “Disagree, I do! Now go out and tell me why.”
I am deeply saddened that he has fallen victim to a PC witch hunt on the left in the ongoing tit for tat. I expect another left wing thinker will soon fall in retaliation. Exceptionally sad and I plan on telling my local HRC coordinators exactly that.