Buchanan taunts Bush with the hint of a wimp


March 01, 1992|By ROGER SIMON

I think Pat Buchanan is trying to tell us something about George Bush.

Politics is about creating images, for yourself and for your opponent. And Pat Buchanan is trying to create an image for George Bush.

See if you can tell what it is:

"George Bush as a candidate is really weak as a kitten," Buchanan says to ABC.

"I think if you just hit him once, he could be what they call a bleeder in boxing," Buchanan gloats on NBC. "He could be the type of fellow that just doesn't get up again."

"Why doesn't George Bush come out of the White House and face me man to man?" Buchanan sneers on CNN.

And when it comes time to paint a visual image of Bush in an attack ad, Buchanan ties Bush to pictures of gay black men dressed in leather harnesses undulating in slow motion across the screen.

Personally, I think Buchanan should stop being so subtle.

He should just tell us directly that he thinks George Bush is a wimp.

There, I have used the word. The dreaded word.

When Newsweek used the word on its cover the day Bush first announced for the presidency on Oct. 12, 1987, it drove him first to the depths of depression and then to the heights of rage.

For months, Bush could not utter or write the word.

In speech and in letters, he would refer to it only as the "w-word", that "awful word," that "dreadful word," that "ugly word."

It so rattled him that his advisers -- Roger Ailes, his media wizard, and Lee Atwater, his campaign manager -- had to pump Bush up before he could face the other Republican candidates in debates.

Ailes wrote attack lines for Bush and told him: "If they hit you first, you knock the s- - - out of them!"

And just before Bush walked onstage at the first Republican debate in Houston, Atwater took his arm and said: "Your survival depends on this."

Atwater knew this was necessary in dealing with Bush: You had to get him scared before he would defend himself.

Well, it is time for George Bush to get scared again.

Not because Pat Buchanan can beat Bush for the Republican nomination. He cannot.

Pretty soon the Oh-My-God Syndrome will set in.

When Jesse Jackson won the Michigan caucus four years ago and got on the covers of Time and Newsweek, Democrats woke up in a panic and said: "Oh, my God! He could actually win this thing!" And Jackson was finished from that moment on.

And if Buchanan continues to do well, or even beats Bush somewhere, the same thing will happen. Republicans will wake up and say: "Oh, my God! We can't really have this creature, this TV person, as our nominee!"

And he will go no farther.

But Buchanan's great danger to Bush is that he will define Bush for the voters of America.

He will define him as weak, vacillating, and not really standing for anything.

Buchanan will paint George Bush as a person whom you simply cannot trust with America's most sacred office.

(In other words, Buchanan will do to Bush what Bush did to Dukakis.)

And in so doing, Buchanan will help the Democrats defeat Bush in November.

So far, George Bush's new aides -- Atwater is dead and Ailes has no official ties to the campaign -- are telling him to act presidential and remain above the fray.

It is the wrong advice.

Bush ought to hit Buchanan and hit him hard.

And not just by using surrogates in TV commercials.

Bush ought to launch the attack himself.

"Pat Buchanan is nothing more than a white-collar brownshirt," he ought to say. "Like all bullies, he is used to picking on minorities, on the weak, on the despised. But now he has met his match. Today, I am drawing the line."

In Buchanan's autobiography, Buchanan tells how he once "sucker-punched" -- that's the term he uses -- a graduate school classmate, knocking him to the floor of the college library because the classmate had insulted him.

"Nemo me lacessit impune!" Buchanan crows. No one wounds me with impunity!

It is time for George Bush to make that motto his own.

And drop this bozo like a two-foot putt.

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