It is an admittedly easier task to criticize the work of an off-beat crank than that of someone who has many redeeming qualities and resonant opinions. I certainly like much of what Patrick Buchanan has said and done over the years - from those long-ago days as a Nixon staffer, to his work for Ronald Reagan, to his various media incarnations. So, I found myself mildly dreading the arrival of his latest book: CHURCHILL, HITLER, and THE UNNECESSARY WAR: How Britain Lost Its Empire and the West Lost the World.
I was right to be concerned in advance. The book didn’t let me down, and it certainly didn’t lift me up.
In the interest of full disclosure and complete candor, I need to say up front that I am, and have been as long as I can remember, an unreformed and unapologetic Churchillophile. Therefore, I tend to recoil when confronted with Buchanan’s broadsides like:
“There has arisen among America’s elite a Churchill cult. Its acolytes hold that Churchill was not only a peerless war leader but a statesman of unparalleled vision whose life and legend should be the model for every statesman.”
I guess I should at least find some comfort in the idea that I may now be considered part of America’s elite.
You don’t have to plunge too deeply into Pat’s prose to figure out that there’s some not-so-subtle psychological projection going on in the book. Here’s the interpretive key: when he says WINSTON CHURCHILL, he really means GEORGE W. BUSH. It’s that simple.
Have you seen the news about recent grave-flipping? Well, it should be in all the papers, because some great men who helped Pat Buchanan along and mentored him, men no doubt still admired by him, have been slightly quickened six feet under. They are eternal card-carrying members of the Churchill cult.
Richard Nixon gave Mr. Buchanan his start in national politics. He plucked the young journalist from a newspaper job in St. Louis to become part of the embryonic presidential campaign team in 1965 working out of the former Vice-President’s New York law firm.