This Ain't No Party

Ross Perot launched the Reform Party as the voice of the American people. Eight years later, it's a shrill, staticky free-for-all, and the moderates can't get heard.

Foley's only departure from the classic Reform Party platform is his support of international agreements, from the United Nations to the World Trade Organization. "They are concerned about the U.S. losing its sovereignty," he says. "But in a world that is increasingly interconnected, you can't be an isolationist, or the world will pass you by."

Every time Foley talks like that, frothing e-mails demand his expulsion from the Reform Party and Lindstedt chalks up another vote from the Buchananites. "I don't know what it is about Hugh Foley," Lindstedt chortles, recalling a recent candidates' forum in Kansas City. "He was a lot smoother than I was, 'cause I was pretty tired, but I spoke everything people wanted to hear, whereas Foley, he goes ahead and puts on his campaign literature that he's a retired international bankster! Everybody knows the Jews run cartels, and there he is talking about globalization being inevitable. I cannot believe the character is running for office."

Boob Bait for the Bubbas

Pledging various allegiances at the Missouri Reform Party candidates' forum last Friday at the St. Louis County Library's Tesson Ferry branch. Senate candidate Hugh Foley stands at the far left, lieutenant-governor candidate George "Boots" Weber at the far right.
Jennifer Silverberg
Pledging various allegiances at the Missouri Reform Party candidates' forum last Friday at the St. Louis County Library's Tesson Ferry branch. Senate candidate Hugh Foley stands at the far left, lieutenant-governor candidate George "Boots" Weber at the far right.

A Georgia good ol' boy in a pale-yellow suit, red shirt and star-spangled top hat introduced Reform Party presidential candidate Pat Buchanan to C-SPAN on the Fourth of July. They were barbecuing in East Ellijay, and Buchanan reminded the crowd how, in the '96 presidential campaign, "We carried Ellijay against the president of the United States." He told his fans he'd soon have the Reform Party nomination and the $12.6 million in federal campaign funding that comes with it. "When we took over or moved into -- strike that 'takeover,' that's what they're accusin' me of," he chuckled. "We're mergin' with the Reform Party."

Buchanan made common cause with the Reformers by emphasizing fair (as opposed to free) trade, so he was quick to mention the WTO "Battle in Seattle" demonstrations: "You know how they threw that big metal trash can through the Starbucks window? That wasn't me -- I was disguised as a sea turtle. That was (Ralph) Nader.

"Look at that deal on Communist China," he continued. "They sell us $6 in goods for every $1 we sell them, and they take all that money, and what are they doin' with it? They're persecutin' Christians. They're usin' that money to target missiles on the United States of America. If I get elected, we will call in that Chinese ambassador and sit him down and say, 'You boys are gonna stop persecutin' Christians -- or you boys have sold your last pair of chopsticks in any mall in America." He also wants to eliminate the National Endowment for the Arts ("What is the federal government doin' subsidizing dirty pictures in New York City?") and curtail the federal Department of Education ("We don't need some guy in sandals and beads telling us how to teach our kids"). Above all, he wants to seal the country's "bleeding" borders against illegal immigrants. "Ronald Reagan said a country that can't or won't defend its borders isn't even a country anymore. So instead of sending soldiers over to Kosovo and Bosnia and Kuwait, places we never heard of, I'll send them to our own borders.

"When my right hand goes up to take that oath of office," he concluded, "their New World Order comes crashin' down."

Missing from the fireworks was Lenora Fulani, a psychologist who ran for U.S. president as an independent in 1988 and became the first woman and the first African-American to appear on the ballot in all 50 states. Buchanan invited her to join his campaign as co-chair last fall, and she shocked the country by accepting. On Nov. 11, at the National Press Club, she said, "In traditional political terms, Pat Buchanan stands for all the things that black progressives such as myself revile ... so, how did we get to be standing here together with me endorsing his candidacy? Because we have a common interest in overthrowing the traditional political terms." At that point, she insisted that Buchanan was not a fascist, a racist or a anti-gay bigot, he just couldn't stand hypocrisy.

She's changed her mind.

"He pandered to the most right-wing element in his brigade, and they gained control on the ground, at the local conventions," remarks Fulani, interviewed by phone from New York. "I met with him in May to say, 'Pat, we have to have a signal that you are still interested in coalition politics, and when you get on TV and say you're building a party in Buchanan's image, it doesn't indicate that." She challenged him to prove an open mind by naming her national chair of the Reform Party. He declined. "What Bay Buchanan (his sister and campaign manager) told me was that they could not get their supporters to support me," reports Fulani, who promptly withdrew her support of Buchanan and resigned as co-chair. "I'm still a member of Reform," she adds. "I'm going to go to the convention and see if what I'm concerned about has actually happened, see what the party looks like."

See, in other words, whether it looks like Lindstedt, who called Buchanan's Missouri staff last fall and asked, "'What is it with this lesbian Marxist Negress here?' They said, 'Oh, it's just a marriage of convenience,'" reports Lindstedt. "I said, 'Well, what does she get out of it?' and they said, 'Hopefully, nothin.'" He chuckles for a minute, satisfied. "We recognize that Pat has to go ahead and do a little boob bait for the bubbas. Well, maybe not so much for the bubbas. But throw a few pinches of himself on the altar of political correctness."

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