Quest for the Presidency, 1992

By Peter L. Goldman; Thomas M. Defrank et al. | Go to book overview

15.
The War against the Crown

The day was uncommonly warm for mid-November, but the invitation-only gathering at Pat Buchanan's place in McLean, Virginia, sat damp and uncomfortable in blue-wool power suits in deference to the gravity of the occasion. The fifty guests were the Lost Boys of the farther American right -- the prophets, pamphleteers, and activists whose access and influence in Washington had been sorely reduced when Ronald Reagan left town. They had been looking ever since for a way back inside, and as they helped themselves at the bar and found seats in the living room, their sense of anticipation was high. They knew, or could guess, the revolutionary purpose Buchanan had in mind: bringing down George Bush's presidency from within his own party -- or, at the very least, embarrassing him so badly that he would have to listen to them again.

The vehicle Buchanan offered that steamy afternoon was himself: he was indeed on the verge of challenging the president in the Republican primaries, and he wanted his soul brothers of the right to hear about it first. A scant three years after Bush's election, he told his guests, the Reagan Revolution was over; its inheritor had betrayed "the most successful political movement of the second half of the twentieth century." The president had knuckled under repeatedly to the taxers, the spenders, and the social engineers. Only that morning, he had signed the Civil Rights Act of 1991, a measure known to conservatives -- and, till lately, to Bush himself -- as a "quota bill."

" George Bush, if you'll pardon the expression, has come out of the closet as an Eastern Establishment liberal Republican," Buchanan said. For the first time in a decade, the conservatives had no alternative of their own within the party, and the president seemed to know it. " George Bush," Buchanan went on, "has sold us down the river again and again."

He was accordingly ready to take a year out of his life, as he put it, to give the Republican right a choice. His plan of attack, he told his friends, was to "fly over" Iowa -- its season-opening caucuses were too

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