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Buchanan's Hopes Scuttled by WTO Protesters

by Paul de Armond

Once the tear gas started flying, he became just another flabby politician

One of the little noticed casualties of the WTO protests was Pat Buchanan's loss of spin control over the trade issue.

Immediately before the WTO meeting was scheduled to begin, the apostate Republican presidential candidate was being rebuffed by Teamster leader James P. Hoffa. Speaking on "Fox News Sunday," Hoffa declined to endorse Buchanan's quest for the Reform Party's presidential nomination. To sweeten the pot for Hoffa, Buchanan forces had floated Hoffa's name as a possible running mate. It's hard to imagine an unlikelier running mate for Buchanan than Hoffa, unless it's Leonora Fulani.

Hoffa, however, wasn't having any. He already had his plane ticket to Seattle and would soon be the happy bridegroom of a harem of happy sea turtles, topless lesbians and a motley crew of enviros, anarchists and left wingers; a crowd that his father viewed as best wooed with a love-tap of a club.

Hoffa noted that Buchanan is "right on trade." Buchanan "is the only candidate who understands the problem of trade and I know that he's speaking out and I encourage him to do so."

That was on Sunday morning. At 1PM on Tuesday in Seattle, Hoffa told a crowd of 20,000 at a labor rally, "We are going to change the WTO or we're going to get rid of the WTO." An hour earlier, the WTO had announced that it was abandoning attempts to convene for the day.

On Wednesday afternoon -- once it became clear that the protests had succeeded -- Buchanan issued a statement that he wasn't going to be joining the demonstrators in the street but that he applauded their efforts. Buchanan also claimed he was working with labor and environmental groups to bring down the WTO.

On December 9, one of the protest leaders said, "Ninety-nine-point-five percent of those people are more likely to buy a pair of Nike sneakers with 'Sweatshop Made' imprinted on the back, eat a drowned dolphin tuna sandwich and vote Republican before they are going to vote for Pat Buchanan."

Buchanan's press release showed how out of touch he was with the protesters by saying, "We Americans alone should decide issues of vital significance to our destiny and our national security. No global organization is ever going to be allowed to impose its rule against the soverignty of the United States of America."

In some ways, Buchanan's baseless claim of support from environmentalists was a flashback to 1972, when George Wallace unveiled "Blacks for Wallace," a national organization with a total membership of one. To date, "Enviros for Pat" has a membership of exactly zero.

On Sunday, December 5th, Buchanan finally was noticed by one of the protesters. In a copyrighted article in the Washington Post, Tom Hayden, a California state senator who was one of the Chicago Seven, gave his view from the streets of Seattle: "To the young people who fasted in jail and froze in the streets, the WTO represents all that they fear about the future. They will not find a home in the market globalism of Clinton, who appeared tone-deaf by referring to the protests as 'hoopla' while endorsing their goals in the same breath. Still, they are just as unlikely to be part of Pat Buchanan's anti-WTO model and narrow nationalist constituency."

The upshot of the WTO protests is that the issue is now before the nation and some open debate is taking place. Buchanan's "America First" isolationism is an economic policy which won't stand up to scrutiny, however much heat and smoke it generates among the talking heads. Once the tear gas started flying, he became just another flabby politician praising the protestors' success and deploring the violence. With that retreat, Pat Buchanan surrendered any claim to leadership on international trade issues.

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Albion Monitor December 19, 1999 (

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