I can’t think of a political speech in recent decades that more rattles around the back of the conscious of the American mind than Pat Buchanan’s “Culture Wars” speech at the 1992 Republican National Convention in Houston. It even overshadows Reagan’s last major speech at the same convention before he slipped into the night of Alzheimer’s.
Buchanan’s blast especially still upsets the Left. Bill Scher just wrote an essay in Politico, “How Republicans Lost the Culture War”:
“On Aug. 17, 1992, Pat Buchanan and the Republican Party declared a ‘culture war … for the soul of America.’ On Oct. 6, 2014, Republicans surrendered.”
So many errors, so little time to correct them.
First, the headline is wrong because the Republicans never fought the “culture war,” so they couldn’t lose it. Pat’s words were so inflammatory in 1992 the GOP honchos banned him from speaking at the 1996 GOP convention in San Diego, even though he had won the New Hampshire Primary and garnered the second highest number of delegates after nominee – and eventual November unbeautiful loser – Bob Dole.
Along with the 1992 Democratic National Convention, where pro-life Pennsylvania Gov. Bob Casey was banned from speaking, the 1996 GOP shindig began the bipartisan practice of scripting the conventions as strictly as the 1934 Congress of the Condemned. (Typically, the Obama-connected Media Matters distorts what happened to Casey; see this link for an accurate report.)
Next, Buchanan never “declared” a “culture war,” but observed it already was ongoing and its intensity. At least Scher included a link to the video so readers easily can check for themselves. And I’ll add a transcript link. Here’s what Pat really said:
“There is a religious war going on in this country. It is a cultural war, as critical to the kind of nation we shall be as was the Cold War itself, for this war is for the soul of America.”
Obviously it’s an observation, not a declaration.
The 1996 elephant convention also was notorious for nominee Bob Dole saying of the social-conservative platform that was passed, “It’s not my platform…. I haven’t read it.” It’s an old GOP con job Scher doesn’t know about: fool the grass-roots yokels with platforms and promises, while actually following an agenda nearly as left-wing as Democrats’
And it’s Republican presidents who have given us such socially leftist U.S. Supreme Court Justices as William Brennan, Potter Stewart, Warren Burger, Lewis F. Powell and Harry Blackmun, who joined two Democrats in imposing the unconstitutional 1973 Roe v. Wade abortion edict; as well as such later social leftists as John Paul Stevens, Sandra Day O’Connor, Anthony Kennedy and David Souter. It’s Republican justices who primarily are responsible for the court’s culture war on America.
So only Scher was surprised when he wrote:
“Twenty-two years ago at his party’s national convention, Buchanan thundered, ‘we stand with [President George H. W. Bush] against the amoral idea that gay and lesbian couples should have the same standing in law as married men and women.’ Last week, nearly every Republican and conservative movement leader stood quietly as the Supreme Court effectively extended equal marriage rights to more than half of the country. Stunned, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee lashed out at his party’s silence, “go ahead and just abdicate on this issue … I’ll become an independent. I’ll start finding people that have guts to stand.’ But he doesn’t seem to have many takers.”
Actually, the Rev. Huckabee is just huckstering. His main issue is not the culture wars, but actual wars in the Middle East and elsewhere that are undeclared and unjust. He is a minister who should have stuck to preaching the Gospel.
And as we have seen, the GOP largely never fought the culture war in the first place.
Scher lists other instances of “capitulations and recalibrations by Republicans on other social issues,” mainly on abortion .
But he fails to note the one culture-war social issue where conservatives actually have triumphed and Republicans have reaped an actual reward by mostly standing solid: gun rights, which are much stronger than in 1992. We all have Pat Buchanan to thank for much of that victory; as well as the research of such gun scholars as John Lott which showed, as the latter’s book title put it, “More Guns, Less Crime.”
Early in his 1996 primary campaign, Pitchfork Pat rallied the Buchanan Brigades in an image I still remember, as reported by the Los Angeles Times on Feb. 26:
“Much of the day's focus was once again on Buchanan, who has set the campaign's tone and agenda since the conservative commentator rocketed to victory in New Hampshire with a mix of social conservatism and economic populism….
“Wearing a black cowboy hat and black boots, Buchanan stopped at a gun show at the Arizona State Fairgrounds to inspect the merchandise and target some potential voters.
“He borrowed a Charles Daly double-barreled shotgun from dealer Gary Bausman to use as a prop for a talk on the sanctity of the 2nd Amendment and a vow to repeal Clinton administration gun-control laws.
“ ‘These aren't just for shooting ducks,’ Buchanan shouted, raising the weapon above his head, as the crowd cheered”
“Right to carry” laws have risen from “shall issue” or “unrestricted” in 17 states in 1992, to 42 states in 2013. And the 2008 Heller decision by the Supreme Court, although not perfect, upheld the Second Amendment “right to keep and bear arms” as a personal right. (And it is a personal right, not just the for militia. See the late Charley Reese’s grammatical analysis.)
I’ll trade the “right” to a ludicrous same-sex “marriage” any day just so I can keep my guns. Lock and load.
Banned in Houston
Finally, this culture-wars bulletin just in from Houston:
“The city of Houston has issued subpoenas demanding a group of pastors turn over any sermons dealing with homosexuality, gender identity or Annise Parker, the city’s first openly lesbian mayor. And those ministers who fail to comply could be held in contempt of court.”
So in modern America, same-sex “marriage” is legal, but being a Christian is illegal? Parker just backed down – for now.
My advice to the pastors: Pack heat.