Dirty Tricks?


Wayne Barrett, one of the reporters who covered Al Sharpton's ties to Republican operative Roger Stone, is now claiming that Stone was instrumental in destroying the Reform Party.

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  1. The spectacle of Ventura didn’t start until Buchanan highjacked the RP. Ventura’s first year and a half in office were highly successful for him and the state and he was very popular. In 2000, PB highjacked the national RP, and the MN RP disaffiliated itself and renamed itself the “Independence Party.” The MN party (as the IP) had come into existence before Perot (in 1990), and affiliated with Perot’s RP in 1993.

    In 2001, Ventura proceeded to move away from actual governing and into instigating controversy and ill-will. And then the Republican House and Democratic Senate teamed up against him.

    For all that got done and that wasn’t done, I’d say Ventura was still about the best governor this state or most states will ever see. I would have easily voted for re-election, and he could have won the three-way race (the Dems picked a real stinker: the Senate Maj leader). Not that he would have, but I would have given him a 40-50% chance.

    His chosen successor (a former conservative Dem US Rep and Cato fellow Tim Penny) lost because instead of Ventura’s centrism of storng positions that weren’t easily left or right on balance, Penny hemmed and hawed and was closer to 50% on each issue. That and he was against concealed-carry.

  2. Oh please, Joe. No conspiracy theories… especially where the principal doesn’t realize he is a pawn in the conspiracy.

    Buchanan was no longer a “fit” in his old party, which is currently undergoing a debate about what “Conservative” and “Republican” mean and he left for greener pastures:
    1) because he’s a believer in his brand of “Conservatism” and
    2) running for President is a lot more fun that getting a real job

    Given 1 & 2 above Buchanan settled on the RP as his host, it had money, it had exposure, and it had a vacancy on the podium.

    Again, there’s no need to explain Buchanan and the RP by a conspiracy, its just as easy to see that this was a strategy that worked for Buchanan.

    Buchanan hurts Republicans more than Democrats anyway… I’d bet that 2/3 of his voters would have voted Dubya rather than Gore. So, I don’t see sending Buchanan as a way to neuter the “Independants” any way. They aren’t independants they were more naturally Paleo-Conservative Republicans.

  3. Perhaps I just didn’t read closely enough, but I’m left wondering, was Buchanan in on it, i.e. did he bolt to the reform party to mess it up, or was that only thought of after he went? I only mention this because I don’t know why Mr. Stone and the Republicans would have bothered messing with them, since Buchanan is a certifiable loser/nut case, I don’t see how anyone could have taken him seriously enough to think his campaign was worth sabotaging. And they were worried about a late Perot entry? Would more than .5% of Americans have even noticed, much less voted for him?

  4. Just a moment: Barrett defines the reform party as a major centrist threat to the Republicans and then champions Buchanan (if not destroyed by GOP grimy tricksters) as its once and future standard bearer?

    Where has Barrett been since Houston 1992? Or PB’s run in 1996? Or his books??!!??! (Recall the assertion that Nazi Germany had no “strategic interest” in attacking the United States) Buchanan is a strange cocktail of social conservatism and economic/foreign policy isolationism…if he’s a centrist then so is Noam Chomsky.

    Two things destroyed the reform party: Perot’s exit/reentry in 1992 (when he was a legitimate contender) and the spectacle of Jesse Ventura.

  5. Didn’t RTFA, however, the Reform Party destroyed the Reform Party… It’s lack of coherence (it seemed a party against much and FOR little) and the fact that it’s leaders all jostled for power rather than building a party.
    I don’t think the Republicans had much of anything to do with the demise. In fact, we exiled Pat Buchanan, he simply roosted in the RP.

  6. Without necessarily endorsing Barrett’s theory, I think these are the answers he’d give to Elvis and Snake:

    1. I don’t think he believes Buchanan was in on it.

    2. The article also suggests that Stone helped push Buchanan into the Reform Party. In other words, Barrett believes Buchanan was part of the sabotage as well as a victim of the sabotage. (Barrett certainly isn’t “championing” Buchanan or claiming that he was a centrist.)

    3. Perot’s glory days were behind him, but he probably could have done at least as well as Nader did. (In 1996, four years after he’d shot his wad, he still managed to get 8.4%.) In an election as close as 2000, that could change the outcome.

  7. Mr Walker,
    The assumption is that Perot would have gotten the RP nomination in 2000. That is not a guarantee. Once Buchanan left the party he settled on the RP for two reasons, Federal funds and the lax by-laws governing membership and nomination.
    Buchanan was like a virus, he imported his follwers into the RP and took it over. Certainly, Perot would have given a stiffer fight (though I believe Buchanan works in Perot’s favour- but that’s another theory)but the end result would have been a fragmented Reform Party either way. A fragmented and demoralized party that would not have performed particularly well, just like it performed in 2000.

  8. “Buchanan is a strange cocktail of social conservatism and economic/foreign policy isolationism…if he’s a centrist then so is Noam Chomsky.”

    That’s just the point – by foisting a wacko radical nominee on the Reformers, they ceased to be a centrist threat. The goal was to make sure that centrists didn’t vote Reform.

    And by picking a black New York female Communist as his running mate, Buchanon guaranteed that he wouldn’t pull any rightwing support from Shrub either. That choice alone tells me that Buchanan thought hard about the spoiler scenario, and suggests that he could well have been in on Stone’s plan.

  9. Buchanan didn’t pick a black New York female Communist as his running mate. He picked a black California female John Bircher.

  10. I don’t know if Buchanan was consciously trying to destroy the Reform Party, but the scenario isn’t completely implausible.

    Unfortunately, however, the Reform Party (like all third parties, I fear), is in the end doomed by the fact that we use plurality voting from single-member districts for all offices. For those who are interested in alternative election methods I recommend 2 sites:


  11. Or Joe, it could be that Buchanan’s brand of Paleo-Conservatism went no where in the GOP and he headed out into the political wilderness and settled upon the RP as his new home.

    It had a following, media exposure, and $13 million in Federal funding, plus a fairly loose organizational structure that would facilitate his take over.

    Susan Faludi, Buchanan, and others all echo much the same anger at Corporate America, even if they may ostensibly be from Right or Left.

    Faludi, Buchanan, Fulani all have a common enemy, US Steel, a common victim, the working man, and a common Golden Era, 1939-69… they all share a common outlook and common enemy.

    So rather than looking for a conspiracy, better to look at the rational self-interest of various ideologues attempting to advance their agenda(s). The RP and the Buchanan candidacy was simply the best and easiest way for them to move forward.

    And the RP was NEVER “Centrist”… it was a party full of cranks who had fled the two main political parties, it agreed on little and opposed much. It was always a NEGATIVE movement, not a positive one.

  12. Oops, I confused Lenora Fulani, the New Alliance Party leader who took over the New York State Reform Party and supported Buchanan, with his eventual running mate.

    Though I still stay naming a black woman public school teacher as your VP is a good way to scare off the far right vote.

    Joe L, it’s already pretty clear there was a conspiracy to use Buchanan to prevent the Reform Party from siphoning off independent votes. Maybe Buchanan himself wasn’t in on it, as you suggest, or maybe he was.

  13. The story just seems to be a pretext for the ABB crowd at the VV and elsewhere to start conspiracies working in their readers head that Nader is just a puppet of Bush to screw up Kerry.

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