To Neff's original article


To the editor ...

In Buchanan Neff has chosen an example against himself. We do know a few things about the man:

1) There is no whiff of personal scandal; otherwise we'd have heard it 2,000 times.

2) He has the courage of the Forum.

People forget that Pat's consignment to the outer darkness did not begin with the Gulf War, nor was it really caused by the Demjanjuk case. It was because he stood up for the Polish Carmelites. Every prominent Catholic in America, except Buchanan and Sobran, was either running for cover or crawling like a worm. I would vote for him if he were the second gunman.

James John Moloney


Ronn Neff replies

Mr. Moloney seems not to remember how shocked everyone was — even his enemies — when they heard Richard Nixon on the Watergate tapes talking like some foul-mouthed hippy. They were shocked because they imagined they knew him, but they knew only the persona he projected in public, the persona his handlers wanted them to believe in. Similarly, everything Mr. Moloney writes about Mr. Buchanan is true, but it is not the whole truth, and most of us will never know even half of the whole truth about him. And I am not suggesting that there is some hidden scandal in Mr. Buchanan's past. I think Mr. Moloney is right on that score also.

Even so, Mr. Buchanan has made my position much stronger than I thought it was when I first wrote "You cannot know a politician's heart."

Suppose, in my original article, I had written: "So far as anyone knows, Mr. Buchanan is the sort of man who would make a Marxist the co-director of his national campaign in order to get a $12.6 million handout from the taxpayers to run his campaign." I should probably have been written off as just another vile slanderer of an honorable man.

But I could  not have written that sentence. I could not have written it for the simple reason that no one could have foreseen that Mr. Buchanan's ambition could drive him to make such compromises. Indeed, the compromises are so breathtaking that probably Lenora Fulani's worst enemies would not have predicted them of her. 

Mr. Buchanan seems to be all the things Mr. Moloney says of him, but he is not limited to those things. Expansive ego and ambition — to say nothing of a disordered eagerness to seek the adulation and approval of countless numbers of strangers — are necessary to any man who would run a credible campaign for high office. Unless Mr. Moloney is an intimate of Mr. Buchanan's, he has no way of knowing to what lengths such disorders will drive him.

Year after year Americans delude themselves that they know and can trust people whom they know only from media appearances, people who are on their best behavior, creating and living public personae. They are as misguided as a man who imagines he is in love with Roma Downey because he is dazzled by the character she plays on "Touched by an Angel." We would think such a man a fool for confusing image and reality.

Similarly, Mr. Buchanan is not an angel; he just plays one in politics.


April 19, 2000