By Ben Cohen
I've been mulling for many months on how to encapsulate Pat Buchanan and his role in today's media. The blend of Grandfatherly jolliness and out and out racism is unique on MSNBC, mostly because it portends to be a liberal news network, but also because his views are actually taken seriously (or at least the hosts pretend to take them seriously). Buchanan has always looked like more of a ratings scam than anything else, but his recent outbursts are pushing the limits of tolerance and his days as a Talking Head could well be numbered. Anyhow, Bob Cesca beat me to the punch, and wrote perhaps the best analysis of the closet supremacist yet:
Ultimately, though, Buchanan's presence on television is less of a
deliberate nod to race-baiting, and more of an acceptance of
inside-Washington masturbation. He's familiar and available and he's an
emeritus type, so he qualifies for very serious cable news debates. And
besides, it's all just a game anyway, right? It's all about the horse
race and which player did a better job "closing the deal." The actual
substance and systemic harm that's done to the country is irrelevant to
the drama of the coverage itself. So when they need an alluring
gesturing conservative granddad to augment the drama, thaw out Buchanan
and wheel him onto the set. And when they need a shockingly racist
monster to amplify the drama, thaw him out and wheel him onto the set.
And finally, the next time Buchanan feels like an oppressed
minority, perhaps he should take it up with Gene Robinson and Tamron
Hall -- the only two African Americans on an otherwise all-white
network. Where's their gratitude to whitey? Ingrates.
If anyone is conducting a campaign to get Buchanan off the air (or at least onto Fox, where no one is taken seriously), please let me know. I've got my $10 ready, and will gladly give up space on the Banter to promote it.