Monday, April 3, 2000
A terrific week in the trenches, so-so in the press. The Buchanan forces have pretty much become the Reform parties of Maine and New Hampshire, and, I hear from political director Tim Haley, of Tennessee.
Petitioning, which now takes up a good three-quarters of the campaigns manpower, is going ahead slowly and steadily. Fundraising has picked up. And Richard Cohen feels the need to attack Pat — probably a good sign as well.
The Cohen piece was extraordinary - not least because the Post illustrated it, a very rare occurrence on its op-ed page. Cohen's point was that Buchanan did not disassociate himself with sufficient violence from some unsavory things said by one Fred Newman, a friend of Lenora Fulani - who has endorsed Pat. I'm kind of amazed the Fulani endorsement gets the attention it does. But quite a stretch for Cohen to attack us on the basis not what an ally of the campaign said (sort of like attacking Hillary for something Sharpton said) but for something said nearly fifteen years ago by a friend of a campaign ally. This is quite a new standard for guilt by association. I wonder whether we'll see more of it.
Last Tuesday, we had scheduled an hour for Pat to go on the Free Republic, the interactive conservative web site. Monday night I went though the drill with "Iron Jack" the Freeper webmaster who was managing the enterprise. He set up Pat's own thread, gave him (me) a password to log on, etc.
So the appointed time arrives, Iron Jack and I are talking on the phone, the moment comes when PJB is supposed to log on (after a day in which he has done three TV shows, two editorial boards, and some radio) and I ask Iron Jack for the password. Silence. I had dumbly assumed that if Iron Jack had it to give to me on the Monday night run-through, he would still have it Tuesday night. He had assumed that if he gave it to me once, I would write it down.
Anyway, a long embarrassing pause, while Iron Jack searches for a colleague somewhere out there in cyberspace who has the bloody password. Pat and I sit in his study, exchanging small talk - me feeling stupid, imagining the Free Republic crowd steaming at their computers.
Finally the password arrives. Pat types the answers himself, in near perfect prose - at about sixty words a minute. The questions are, perhaps not surprisingly, better informed than those of the average Washington journalist.
Thursday night, March 30, Pat goes on Hardball with Jack Kemp, and says Elián should stay in the country. I had told him Monday that I and everyone I knew thought the kid should go back to his father - and Pat told me that at the antiwar.com conference, he saw Chronicles editor Tom Flemming and antiwar.com editor Justin Raimondo more or less shouting at one another over this. An issue that divides Buchananites! My mother-in-law, an Englishwoman who has seen it all, said she saw Pat going on about Elián and thought for the first time he was just another American politician.
Saw American Beauty with my daughter Friday night. This is campaign-relevant because, well in part because Pat was asked about it at the Gannett editorial board meeting (he hadn't yet seen the film) and because many of cultural conservative journalists are bemoaning its popularity with "the Academy".
I liked the movie just fine — a clever attack on a hyper-materialistic upper middle-class American lifestyle, empty of God and spirit, based upon an ethos of consume and consume more: a way of life which is all going to come crashing down soon, I think. A Buchananite movie even? Well, can't go that far. But I'll be curious what the candidate thinks when he gets a free moment and goes to the cinema.