"Notice that for Buchanan in this column, it is axiomatic that America was once defined by its whiteness."Really? Rather than trusting entirely to Mr. Sullivan's judgment, let us consult the Buchanan column whereof he speaks, and see how the subject of race is introduced. The column begins:
-- Andrew Sullivan
In the brief age of Obama, we have had "truthers," "birthers," tea party activists and town-hall dissenters.(I hesitate to answer "kooks," because I don't actually know any of these people, and Mr. Buchanan quotes as his source a columnist for a Las Vegas newspaper, so this is all third-hand anyway. Never mind, then. But it is not until Mr. Buchanan's ninth paragraph that the subject of race is introduced by reference to that notorious Southern bigot, Jimmy Carter.)
Comes now, the "Oath Keepers." And who might they be? . . .
As with Jimmy Carter's long-range psychoanalysis of Joe Wilson, the reflexive reaction of the mainstream media will likely be that [the Oath Keepers] are militia types, driven to irrationality because America has a black president. . . .(OK, the connection between phenomenon A -- the Oath Keepers -- and phenomenon B -- the remarks of former President Carter -- seems kind of tenuous here, but a few paragraphs later, Mr. Buchanan introduces other sources.)
[Progressives] cannot comprehend what would motivate Middle America to distrust its government, for it surely does, as Ron Brownstein reports in the National Journal: "Whites are not only more anxious, but also more alienated. Big majorities of whites say the past year's turmoil has diminished their confidence in government, corporations and the financial industry. ... Asked which institution they trust most to make economic decisions in their interest, a plurality of whites older than 30 pick 'none' – a grim statement."
Is all this due to Obama's race?
Even Obama laughs at that. . . .
Well, you can read the rest. What is declared "axiomatic" by Sullivan -- who goes on to accuse Mr. Buchanan of engaging in revisionist racial demagoguery -- is by no means evident from a straightforward reading of this column.
It is the liberal Mr. Brownstein (who has never been accused of hatemongering, except perhaps by Republicans) whose quote is the orange cone around which Mr. Buchanan's column pivots to discuss in depth the context wherein white voters are "anxious" and "alienated." And Mr. Buchanan then cites no less an authority than President Obama for dismissing this specific idea.
Obviously, given Mr. Buchanan's history, there are penumbras and emanations that might cause him to be suspected of "speaking in code." But is it not possible that Mr. Brownstein's reference to "anxious" and "alienated" whites was also a way of speaking in code, namely the Frankfurt School language that gave us Theodor Adorno's The Authoritarian Personality and Richard Hofstadter's The Paranoid Style in American Politics?
More to the point, however, whose basic analysis of the phenomenon -- the poll numbers cited by Mr. Brownstein -- is more factual and reasonable? Which of them addresses the topic with more accuracy, insight and authority?
While there are many Tea Party activists who would not welcome Mr. Buchanan as a speaker at their next event, I dare say if Andrew Sullivan attempted to speak at a Tea Party rally, no one would hear a word he said because of the cacaphony of boos and jeers from the crowd. They might even call him ugly epithets like "Limey."
But what do I know? All I've done is cover the largest rally of the Tea Party movement. I'm not a British expat with a Harvard degree and a beach house in Provincetown, so please ignore my opinion.
Mr. Sullivan is an expert, and surely I know even less about the motives of American populists than Patrick J. Buchanan, whom Mr. Sullivan so airily accuses of "hateful hackery."
(Via Ann Althouse.)UPDATE: Speaking of posh Brits, it seems some people have decided they're generally a nuisance.