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Opinion Column
For the week of August 30 through September 5, 2000

Pat Buchanan’s anachronistic theories are leading to his political death

Commentary by PAT MURPHY


The name of who said it escapes me, but not the words.

"Reform parties," the sage said, "are like bees: they sting, then they die."

And so it is with the slow political death of Pat Buchanan, who stung the U.S. body politic, and who may have caused the death of the Reform Party which he’s tried to wrest from Ross Perot’s die-hard faithful with strong-arm tactics suggestive of an infamous German beer hall putsch of the 1930s.

Blame others as he will, Buchanan’s death will be suicide by his own inept hands.

Among other things, public opinion polls in this, his third attempt to become U.S. president, tell the story.

He’s down to one or two percent, less than the less celebrated Green Party candidate, Ralph Nader. And Buchanan’s negatives are at a record 51 percent.

His loony strategy is turning off even onetime followers.

Just how much can people take of Buchanan’s rustic view of voters as a "peasant army" and "pitchfork brigade," as though he yearns to lead 18th century rabble, not a democratic nation.

As the U.S. economy depends more on global trade, Buchanan’s Fortress America isolationism shows unvarnished contempt for the 21st century.

His recent threat that as president he’d send 10,000 Marines to help the United Nations move out of the United States reveals an ignorance of the UN’s diplomatic real estate as well as a diminished capacity for diplomacy and statesmanship.

Finally, as if he’d closed his eyes and picked a name from the Los Angeles phone directory, Buchanan’s vice presidential running mate, 62-year-old African American Ezola Foster, turns out to be a one-time California schoolteacher who went on welfare after claiming a mental disorder.

What a fine team they’d be to run the United States. One candidate who talks cockeyed nonsense, the other a documented mental case.

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Sometimes, there’s a simpler way to explain a problem than the complicated reasons offered by too many people, if you follow what I mean.

Take the problem of why Idaho’s salmon population has suddenly and drastically declined, along with construction of four Lower Snake River dams between 1964 and 1979.

Over the weekend, at a seminar on salmon sponsored by Idaho Rivers United, biologist Dave Cannamela of the Idaho Department of Fish and Game enunciated the most sensible and obvious explanation.

Salmon, Cannamela said, simply are dying from stress—the stress of trying to survive the trip to the Pacific Ocean through hydroelectric turbines and spillways of four dams; or the unnatural experience of being scooped up as captives and barged past the dams.


Pat Murphy is the retired publisher of the Arizona Republic and a former radio commentator.

 

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