I've always liked Pat Buchanan. He's honest, and he doesn't varnish his loathing for various segments of the population under the cloak of "compassionate conservatism" or any such nonsense. Personally, I'd much rather end up with a guy who says "No, really, I don't like gays" than a guy who pretends he does and then screws them every chance he gets once in office.
"No, put the flag behind me, lest anyone question my allegiances."
The second reason I like him is that for the longest time (pre-Stockdale) he was pretty much the only entertainment in presidential elections. You could always count on ol' Pat for a couple of gold nuggets. In 1992, he challenged and defeated incumbent President G.H. Bush in the New Hampshire primaries. Then he went on to sink the latter's campaign by insisting on a keynote address at the 1992 GOP convention in which he used phrases like "moral jihad" to describe the party's mission to "govern by the Bible." Safe to say that scared the living shit out of about 70% of the voting public. Molly Ivins described Buchanan's speech as "Decent. But I liked it better in the original German."
Fourteen years later, and suddenly Pat appears to have been A) a prophet and B) a religious moderate compared to those who would follow in his footsteps.
But his progressive ideas didn't stop there. In 1996 part of his campaign centered around the idea of building a giant fence between the U.S. and Mexico. Boy, that was good for a yuk! Ha ha ha! That Pat Buchanan, he sure is a cut-up. I mean, he was alive when the Maginot Line was built! Surely he knew better.
Fast forward to 2006 and our current intellectually handicapped GOP: "No, seriously, build the fucking fence." And who can blame them. The logic is flawless. Once the border is demarcated by a steel fence, illegal immigration will become impossible. I can't think of any way to get past a fence, can you? Didn't think so.
This is emblematic of why the current generation of conservatives are such an utter embarassment. The ideas that used to be offered up by fringe lunatics – Buchanan's fence, the national sales tax, Forbes-o-nomics – are now part and parcel of the majority ideology. Star Wars/SDI, which Reagan used as a bluff (since it's technologically impossible) to convince a teetering Soviet Union that it couldn't afford the next stage in the arms race, was revived in 2002 as "national missile defense." How's that project coming along, guys? Another couple hundred billion and you might even have a prototype that works under heavily rigged testing conditions!
If this trend continues (and since the GOP has anointed itself God's chosen people, how could it not?) I look forward to a reintroduction of more ideas mined from the rich intellectual history of bat-shit insane ultra-right conservatism. Ketchup may once again be a vegetable, and we have but scratched the surface of the visionary foreign affairs insights of Barry Goldwater.