Pat Buchanan has a unique advantage over all the other candidates of both parties. The man can't be embarrassed by anything he said or did in the past.
An example is a letter that someone recently dug out of the Gerald Ford Library.
Buchanan wrote the letter in 1974, asking President Ford to make him an ambassador.
He had a specific country in mind where his political views would make him highly suitable for a diplomatic post because that country's government would like him.
I'll give you three guesses which country Buchanan wanted to go to as our representative. (If you've followed Buchanan's colorful brain waves, it shouldn't take you more than one guess.)
Of course, South Africa. The South Africa of 1974, where apartheid was firmly in place, and dissidents as well as innocent bystanders were being murdered, tossed in prison, hounded and persecuted in every imaginable way by a racist government's storm troopers. Where the rule was one man, one vote, so long as that one man was white and not some off-brand.
And this was where Buchanan thought he would fit right in and be viewed as a real pal.
Now, if a letter of that sort turned up bearing the name of Clinton or Tsongas or Kerrey, oh, what a flap there would be.
They'd be in front of the TV cameras, sweating through questions like: "Why did you think you would be welcomed by a government that kills demonstrators, sends people to prison for making speeches and pens human beings up like herds of cattle?"
It would be time to close up the campaign offices, turn out the lights, and look for a new line of work.
Even Bush would have difficulty surviving that one. How would it look to the world if an American president were asked: "This letter appears to mean that you supported apartheid and brutality. Can you explain why you took this position?"
About all he could say is: "Uh, my secretary was under a lot of strain because she was quitting smoking at the time and wrote a lot of strange stuff."
But Buchanan can shrug it off. So what else is new? Would anyone think he wanted to go to South Africa to immerse himself in Zulu culture?
If anything, disclosure of this letter could give his campaign a temporary boost.
Think. Where are the next big primaries being held? Where is Buchanan hoping to make his biggest splash and make Bush's political life even more miserable? That's right, in the South.
So how will news of this letter be greeted in the roadhouses, diners, and around the gas pumps?
Will Bubba say to Junior: "Doggone, I see where it came out that ol' Pat wanted to be ambassador to South Africa 'cuz he thought he'd get on just fine with that racist, oppressive, mean government that's been shootin' all them native Africans just for stickin' their heads out of their shacks and wantin' to vote and have a say in how they live."
"Yeah, I saw that, Bubba, and I am just shocked out of my boots that Pat would even imply that he condoned such cruelty to men, women and children just because of the color of their skin. I am deeply disappointed in Pat."
"I, too, am gravely disillusioned."
Sure, and they'll ask the waitress for a slice of quiche.
That's the advantage of being Pat: burping up any thought that pops into your head and never having to say you're sorry.
He's now telling his Southern admirers that AIDS is nature's way of punishing gays for their sins. He hasn't told us if the virus that killed Mozart was nature's way of punishing him for being a madcap.
If any other candidate said that, he'd be accused of being a vicious gay-basher. But there's no point in making a big deal out of Pat being a vicious gay-basher because he's proud of it.
So, in a way, he's the most honest candidate out there. And maybe the least troubled. What a hater. It's almost squirting out of his ears. But it doesn't have to squirt out of his ears, because he lets it all pour out of his mouth. Compared to Buchanan, David Duke is a mealy-mouthed waffler.
That's why I'm glad Buchanan is running. A few months ago, I thought Duke would serve the scholarly purpose of being the nation's Hate-O-Meter. Count Duke's votes, I said, and you'll get an accurate reading of how many hard-core haters there are in this happy land.
But Duke sort of wimped out and faded. Maybe it was the face lift that turned people off.
As it turns out, Duke wasn't needed. Buchanan is doing the job far more effectively. By the end of the primaries, we'll have a Hate-O-Meter reader with a plus or minus factor of about two people. The statistics will be invaluable to social scientists, if they can stop trembling long enough to read them.
By the way, President Ford ignored Buchanan's application for that South Africa job. Ford wasn't the brightest bulb in the lamp store, but he was smart enough to know we didn't want to be represented by an ambassador who carried a tear-gas gun.