An Open Letter to Pat Buchanan
Dear Pat Buchanan,
I have often admired your writings, in particular your strong articles before and after the Iraq invasion. You spoke out when others did not. You wrote powerfully against globalization, the hollowing out of America, of the trade deficit and on other issues, warning against the dire consequences that would follow.
Your piece today, "To Punish Bush is to Punish America" undoes all that good work.
If Iraq "is the worst strategic blunder in our lifetime", why should the unrepentant author of that folly go unpunished? And you say to let him go is to punish America? Well, I’m sure there were those who felt that to punish Ken Lay would be to punish Enron.
You have only to read your own columns over the past two years to be convinced of the enormous economic, cultural and military punishment that the country has already received under the Bush Administration. It is impossible to understand how you, in good conscience, can ask anyone to vote for this president, especially since he himself has sought no accounting for all that has gone wrong. Indeed, he has pretended as though everything is right. When asked during the second debate, he could not even come up with a single heartfelt example of a mistake, saying specifically that Iraq was NOT a mistake. Phony or dumb? It doesn’t matter. Either way, the country is the victim. And here you are saying punishing him is punishing America! Since when have we started equating the president with the nation? Most recently, Saddam’s Iraq did. Or are you suggesting that if Bush leaves office, we would become like Iraq?
Your excuse is that Kerry is worse. Well, if you, as an American patriot, could sit in Washington DC inveighing against one war, why was it any worse for Kerry to protest another war, one about which he had first-hand knowledge? Is everyone opposing any ongoing war to be classed a traitor? And by your logic, are those who brought Abu Ghraib to world notice traitors too?
Now that’s smearing, just the kind you accuse Kerry of having done.
Yes, Kerry may not be the best candidate in the world. But that is hardly the point. If a president has committed impeachable offenses, would you plead to keep him in office just because the vice-president is not to your liking? Any intelligent person knows these are two different questions.
From your own writings: the disingenuous forced-march to war, the deliberate raising of phony threats, the sly conflation of Iraq and Al Qaeda to serve his purpose, the fake claim of WMD’s, NAFTA, the corporatization of government policies including the growth of outsourcing, the trade deficit, the wink at illegal immigration, the outsourcing of Middle East policy to Israel, are eloquent arguments why Bush does not deserve a single day longer in office. In a political environment less fearful and befuddled there would long ago have been a motion to impeach the president for Iraq (As Clinton was for far less. I don’t remember your stance on that impeachment, but I’m fairly certain you did not oppose it on the sole plea that Gore would be worse). So why this apology for Bush?
It would have been quite different to say that you couldn’t support Bush, though you were not endorsing Kerry. Instead you have actually endorsed the reelection of the most incompetent administration in recent memory (starting with not thwarting 9-11 to today’s missing motherlode of explosives in Iraq).
So unpersuasive is your case that it would be difficult to imagine any thinking person being swayed by your endorsement. Reasonable people might even conclude, given your earlier writings, that you had somehow compromised your integrity in some backroom deal. Personally, I think your last paragraph is most indicative of what is at work — the tribal instinct. You are correct — when the shooting starts, it’s time to come home. Except one imagine that home to be America, not Bush’s corporate backoffice. Heaven knows why an intelligent man like you would confuse the two.
Not long ago, you were sharpening your wit on Dan Rather who, according to you, was so carried away by his animus against Bush that he had put himself in a predicament at the end of a long career where he had to eat his own words. The same might be said of you, Kerry, and all your fine columns over the years. I think they might go well with some salsa.
NIRANJAN RAMAKRISHNAN is a writer living on the West Coast. His writings can be found on http://www.indogram.com/gramsabha/articles. His blog is at http://njn-blogogram.blogspot.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.