A few months back, I received a magazine in the mail. I hadn't ordered it, but there it was. "The American Conservative," the title blared in white-on-blue lettering.
There were two problems: It was anti-American, and it definitely wasn't conservative.
The articles railed against American "imperialism," the Weekly Standard and National Review, and Israel. Kevin Phillips ripped modern conservatism as "Wall Street, Big Energy, multinational corporations, the Military-Industrial Complex, the Religious Right, the Market Extremist think-tanks, and the Rush Limbaugh Axis." He urged readers to "support Democratic retention of at least the Senate."
Two weeks later, another issue of The American Conservative arrived. This issue urged the Bush administration against considering pre-emptive war. An editorial by Taki Theodoracopulos accused neoconservative Bill Kristol of being a spy for Israel's center-right Likud Party. Theodoracopulos discussed "American arrogance" and fulminated against Israel.
This was isolationist, anti-business, anti-Semitic, dumb economics garbage. And then I looked at the name of the editor: Patrick Buchanan.
For many Americans, the Pat Buchanan wing of the conservative movement drives their deep-seated fear of conservatives. When you look at Buchanan's work in recent years, it's not hard to see why.
His isolationist economic policy is myopic. In his column of Oct. 28, 2002, titled "The Poison Fruit of Free Trade," Buchanan goes on a ludicrous free-trade-bashing binge. Buchanan argues that because U.S. taxes are too high, we should raise tariffs in order to protect American industry.
This argument is stunningly ignorant for a person of Buchanan's "renown." Raising tariffs would push up prices of imports, thereby raising prices across the board. Consumption of goods would fall. Thousands of jobs in American industries would be lost. Real wages would also fall. The best example of the effects of high tariffs is the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act of 1930, which most economists feel prolonged the Great Depression and exacerbated its effects.