By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

Maddow targets Buchanan’s homophobia

If you didn’t catch this on MSNBC last night, you should watch. Rachel Maddow goes off on that old homophobe Pat Buchanan for his 1992 “culture war” speech — the one that the late, great Molly Ivins said “sounded better in the original German.”

Scroll ahead to 3:30 if you’re in a hurry. Here’s Maddow:

I hadn’t planned on talking about this, but I was thinking about 1992, when I was 19 years old. And Pat, that was the year of your famous culture-war speech at the Houston convention.

And when Bill Clinton got elected that year, I remember, as not a very political person, feeling a visceral sense that, you know, I like the idea of the Clinton family being around for the next four years. I like the idea of them being on TV all the time, in the news all the time, them just being around. Because they seem likable, and, more importantly, I think that they don’t hate me.

I think if they knew me, they wouldn’t hate me, and they don’t want an America that doesn’t want me in it. I believe that they would respect me. And after the 1992 convention that year, I didn’t feel that way about the incumbent president or his party.

Buchanan chose to ignore the genuine hurt and emotion behind Maddow’s words, and Maddow wisely didn’t push it any farther. But good for Maddow for calling Buchanan out on his hateful words aimed at gay men and lesbians — words he’s never disavowed, and that he no doubt believes to this day.

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  1. Esther

    That was very moving and heartfelt. Pat Buchanan obviously doesn’t have an ounce of empathy in his body. I don’t watch MSNBC, so I’d never even heard of Rachel Maddow until a couple of weeks ago. But like you said, good for her. Unfortunately, homophobia is still an acceptable bigotry. I appreciated Teddy’s line the other night when he talked about Obama closing the book on the old poltics of race and gender and group against group, and straight against gay. And who’s at the top does count. I was looking back at Lyndon Johnson’s speech when Congress was considering the Voting Rights Act. The way he used his remarks as a bully pulpit, to speak forcefully against racism, to make the struggle for civil rights a struggle for ALL Americans was truly inspiring.

  2. mike_b1

    Buchanan probably has a close relative who is gay. Isn’t that how it always works? Like Cheney? And Reagan? And Gingrich? …

  3. Dan Kennedy

    Mike: Cheney has actually said some fairly supportive things about the rights of gay men and lesbians. I’m pretty sure he’s even endorsed the right of states to have same-sex marriage.

  4. mike_b1

    Gay rights advocates saw right through that one, Dan. While he did say he thinks the states should decide on the issue of gay marriage, what he didn’t say was that gay marriage should be legal. And Cheney also said the President (Bush) makes policy for the administration. He wanted it both ways (pardon the pun). And he supported Bush on the FMA — the proposed amendment to ban same-sex marriages. (

  5. Dan Kennedy

    Mike: I didn’t say that MassEquality was ready to make Cheney its Man of the Year. My point is that his position — and his refusal to gay-bash — puts him about 10 miles to the left of the the Republican mainstream. Which it does.

  6. O-FISH-L

    “I think if they [the Clinton family] knew me, they wouldn’t hate me, and they don’t want an America that doesn’t want me in it. I believe that they would respect me. And after the 1992 convention that year, I didn’t feel that way about the incumbent president or his party.—You’re right Rachel, the Clinton’s don’t hate you and they do want you in America, just not in the military. Not while you’re openly gay anyway. And if you’re already in the military, knock-off the gay conduct and for Christsakes, don’t tell a soul that you’re gay! Oops, Hillary now says she’d support you openly serving in the military, just stay off the altar. “Marriage has got historic, religious and moral content that goes back to the beginning of time, and I think a marriage is as a marriage always has been, between a man and a woman.” — Hillary Clinton. Buchanan is the villian of this story? Sheesh.

  7. Dan Kennedy

    Fish: Here are some excerpts from Buchanan’s speech.[A] militant leader of the homosexual rights movement could rise at that convention and exult: “Bill Clinton and Al Gore represent the most pro-lesbian and pro-gay ticket in history.” And so they do….Yes, we disagreed with President Bush, but we stand with him for freedom to choice religious schools, and we stand with him against the amoral idea that gay and lesbian couples should have the same standing in law as married men and women.One of the less charming attributes of the Clintons is that they rarely have the courage of their convictions. But they are not Pat Buchanan.

  8. John Farrell

    You tube removed the video unfortunately. I would’ve liked to link to it.

  9. Peter Porcupine

    DK – official reminder. Pat Buchanan is no longer a Republican. In 2000, when he threatened GWB with a loss of his ‘values voters’ if Bush didn’t toe Buchanan’s line, Bush told him ‘Don’t let the door hit you in the *** on your way out”. Pat and his seven followers left and formed the Constuition Pary, which promptly went down in flames. That’s part of the reason I supported GWB – his willingness to buck such bullying.It annoys me no end when the liberal Punditocracy treats Buchanan as a GOP expert, when he left the party almost a decade ago.

  10. Dan Kennedy

    John: I found a different version and have fixed it. I hope it was just one of those things, and not a matter of NBC trying to hunt down and remove every instance.

  11. Don, American

    Is calling a person a homophobe politically correct? Isn’t one gratuitous insult pretty much like the next?

  12. Bill Baar

    Obama claimed three spiritual mentors in Sun Times interview last year: Fathter Pfleger, Rev Wright, and Rev (Illinois State Senator) Meeks.Meeks is an Obama delegate in Denver and his south side Chicago Mega Church known for Holloween Parties with young men playing the roles of Gays burning in hell…. screaming etc as they are tormented.Obama also remained silent on the inclusion of a Farrahkan aid on the Illinois State Hate Crimes commission after Farrahkan gave a founders day speech about Hollywood Homosexual filth, and also having to cleanse the streets of Jerusalem with blood (wonder who’s?) after Israel allowed a Gay Pride Parade there……I once posted a comment about sometimes the conservative who finds Homosexuality a sin a better friend to Gays than some of the Illinois Democrats supposedly on their side… I had an anon comment back that there are those against us, and those against those against us, but very few for us…I think that’s very true.

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