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Joe McQuaid's Publisher's Notebook: Trump could use a Pat Buchanan

By JOE McQUAID
July 16. 2017 11:26PM


Pat Buchanan is one of the most interesting and entertaining writers I know. His newest book is “Nixon’s White House Wars” from Crown Forum. It could more accurately be titled “Buchanan’s wars,” as he uses much of its 402 pages (not counting appendix) to defend positions and views he took as a Nixon White House senior aide.

It is Buchanan’s second book on his years with Richard M. Nixon. His first traced being hired as Nixon’s operative in the comeback that led to the White House in 1968. It included being sent by Nixon to meet and charm one William Loeb, then owner and publisher of this newspaper.

William Loeb and wife, Nackey, never did warm to Nixon, although Loeb backed him in 1968 and, reluctantly, in 1972 against George McGovern. But the Loebs fell head-over-heels for the feisty and conservative Buchanan.

Indeed, one wonders how much better a President Nixon might have been had he paid more attention and hewed closer to his speech writer-adviser’s political philosophy and instincts.

Would Nixon have avoided the ultimate price he paid for Watergate had he had Buchanan’s counsel earlier?

Buchanan recognizes that Nixon was no conservative, but a pragmatist who did much for the nation before his disastrous and humiliating resignation.

“Had he stepped down in January 1973,” Buchanan writes, “Richard Nixon would be ranked as one of the great or near-great Presidents. While I had opposed some of his domestic policies and foreign initiatives, Nixon’s first term was undeniably one of extraordinary accomplishment.”

He cites Nixon’s ending the Vietnam war, his healing much of the internal dissension of the turbulent 1960s, his appointment of four Supreme Court justices, and his nuclear arms treaties.

Only half in jest, Buchanan quotes a friend’s line that Watergate happened because the last person Nixon spoke with one day took the President seriously.

The anecdote reminded me of the key role a presidential assistant can play. William Loeb’s dad was chief aide to Teddy Roosevelt. Loeb delighted in recounting how TR would issue some half-baked order to Loeb Sr., who would ignore it. The next day, Roosevelt would sheepishly ask if the order had been carried out and be relieved to find it had not.

Buchanan is now a big defender of President Trump. Would that Pat could find such an aide for The Donald.


Write to Joe McQuaid at Publisher@unionleader.com or on Twitter @deucecrew.


Publisher's Notebook