FALUDI: Pat Buchanan's Traitors

It was Saturday, two days before the start of the Republican National Convention, and Buchanan delegates Gerald and Sonja Wall and Burl Adkins, along with three other Buchanan supporters, were off to Tijuana. They had barely dropped their bags at the hotel in San Diego. They hadn't yet seen the convention hall -- or, for that matter, the beach. The first place they wanted to go was Mexico.As the trolley pulled toward the border, Sonja Wall (herself an Emigre from Germany in 1953) peered out the window at an immense traffic jam and gasped. "Oh my God, look! They're all coming over! Now I know what Pat Buchanan is talking about."The elderly gentleman in the next seat, a regular commuter, gently corrected her. "No, that traffic's going the other way. That's all the people going to Mexico."As much as their candidate had warned them about aliens crashing the borders, it was Republicans who were rampaging across the line this time. (At Humphrey's Half Moon Inn, in San Diego, the concierge told me, so many delegates wanted to go to Mexico that they had to charter two buses in one day.) And the greeting they got from the Mexicans on the other side was a far cry from the one Tijuanans traveling north would have received. At the bus depot, above 250 specially designed red, white and blue elephant pinatas, a sign announced, "Welcome Republicans!"Still, the Buchanan delegates trod warily. Burl Adkins made sure to slip his wallet into his front pocket. Gerald Wall complained of Ford Escorts built in Mexico and clucked disapprovingly about the children peddling gold chains on the street. "You see those 10-year-old kids out there working?" he said. "That's because there's no welfare here. That's why they are running to the border." And that's why this group was supporting Buchanan. "He's the only candidate fighting illegal, unethical trade policies that are robbing us of millions of manufacturing jobs," said Adkins, who began leading protests during the '80s in front of a Mazda plant in Flat Rock, Michigan, after his small employment-services company, the Adkins Edge, floundered.Pat Buchanan was right to call for a crackdown on immigrant invasions, they agreed later over Dos Equis in a warehouse-size bar a few blocks from the bus station. "As Reagan said in the '80s," Gerald Wall said, several times, "'A country that cannot protect its borders is not a country.' You have the whole Southern Hemisphere flooding in here, and it's going to take an army to control the border."But later, after two hours in Tijuana, the border distinctions began to seem blurry. The bars had the same wide-screen TVs. The struggling auto-body shops could have been in Flint. The grocery stores stocked the same American junk food. The Kahlua was cheaper, noted Pat Berger, another GOP delegate, but even at $7.50 a bottle, it was a bargain these strapped denizens of the increasingly impoverished Rust Belt passed up. The water they'd carefully avoided drinking came, a waiter informed them, from the San Diego water system. Everywhere, the signs of economic devastation were all too familiar. "I don't know why we're going to Mexico," Gerald Wall said to the group. "Detroit is Mexico." They had headed into the belly of the beast, only to find themselves bellying up to an American-style bar blasting American music. And after ordering the same round of beers they'd have at home, they did just what they would have done in any American tavern: they sat around and talked about the jobs that had vanished.Gerald Wall and Owen Berger, Pat's husband and an in-law of Gerald's, ticked off their relatives who'd been downsized and restructured in the new world economy. "Paulie lost his job," said Wall, himself a General Motors lifer, as was his father. "Gary took the buyout from Fisher Body, started his own company, and then that went belly-up. Walter was on the final line [at GM], but they transferred him, and now he's on maintenance, sweeping and stuff like that. Now he's got no overtime, of course. Because how many times can you clean a toilet?""You see a lot of depression and anxiety," Berger said."There's a lot of guys taking tranquilizers," Wall said. "Guy across the street lost his job, it ruined his marriage. Man loses his job, he loses his worth." They finished a second round and then headed back to the bus depot. On the way, Burl Adkins said he kind of liked Tijuana. "It's like small-town America at the turn of the century," he said. "All these people crowded in a small space." And they seemed, he said, to be kind to each other. The bus-station manager only proved his point. When they arrived at the depot and announced that they were going to be late to the Michigan delegation's beach party, the manager ushered them to the front of the line, ensuring that they got not only the first bus but the best seats.On the drive home, Wall amended his trade analysis. Maybe the culprits weren't the Mexicans building those Ford Escorts after all, he said. "The thing is, if Ford's making those cars and paying guys only $5 a day, shouldn't the cars be selling for less? It's the big guys putting the money in their pockets." He stopped, bewildered, tangled in his own thoughts. "Well, that's capitalism, I guess. I mean, I'm not against capitalism, but . . ." Up close, the border between Americans and Mexicans paled in comparison to another economic divide: the one in which the laborers in Mexico and the working men in the Buchanan Brigade (most of whom make less than $30,000 and lack college degrees, according to exit polls) existed on one side -- and the profiteering nobles of the global economy preened and ignored them on the other.In the "new world order," Adkins said, "a middle-class person is locked out of the political process." That is why he no longer feels any party loyalty. "The Republican establishment only cares about special interests. The party decides who gets the money. It's an oligarchy."As they crossed back into America, it was as if they were heading into foreign land, where they were the unwelcome aliens at the court of the GOP.In Braveheart, a movie so identified with Pat Buchanan that his followers call him Braveheart, the Scottish peasant warrior William Wallace leads his ragtag army to battlefield glory against the tyrannical British. But Buchanan's followers seem to have forgotten an inconvenient fact: William Wallace's loyal troops, for all their goring and gouging of British soldiers, lost. They were betrayed by Scottish Lord Robert the Bruce, who feigned devotion to his peasant countrymen but in the end sold them out for continued membership in the political establishment of nobles.Every revolution depends on whether the gains made on the battlefield can be carried into the palace. And when the peasants arrive at the castle door, they discover whether their leaders are William Wallaces or Robert the Bruces -- and whether they have been the players or just the pawns. Last week, Pat Buchanan's "peasants with pitchforks" were ushered into the palace of the Republican convention. But who did they discover their candidate to be -- and what did that make them?The night before the start of the Republican convention, Pat Buchanan held a rally at the California Center for the Arts in Escondido, 30 miles outside San Diego. Buchanan had been banned from the convention podium, so this was to be his mini-convention, a culmination of his campaign, where he might at last lash back at all in the party leadership who had silenced and denounced his insurgency.His delegates were hungry to hear his voice -- an extension of their own -- and eager for a sign from him to continue the battle. "It's terrible the way they've locked Pat out," Gerald Wall said. "Pat should have the right to speak." Burl Adkins agreed: "It's the biggest smear campaign that's taken place by the media and the political establishment. A smear on a fine man and a man of integrity who has the people's interests at heart. Pat Buchanan is an Andy Jackson and a Harry Truman for 1996."In the packed auditorium, the country-music band Smith & Western played, and a string of politicians mounted the stage to stoke the passions for the man of the hour. "[Buchanan] carried our cause even with all the slings and arrows that came at him from all parts of this country, and he stayed true to his beliefs and his principles," California state Senator Richard L. Mount-joy declaimed, bringing the Buchananites to their feet. Overhead, a spotlight suddenly flooded an opera box, and all eyes lifted to find Pat and Shelley Buchanan standing there, hands moving in a slow, papal wave. The congregants leaped to their feet, shouting over and over, "Go, Pat, go! Go, Pat, go!" Then the light was as suddenly extinguished, and the Buchanans vanished like an apparition, or a dream that had prematurely died. The followers returned reluctantly to their seats.Former Miss America Kellye Cash sang the national anthem. Again and again, speakers drove the believers to their feet as they pounded on the familiar Buchanan themes. "Never again should any American family hear that their young sons or daughters are being put under U.N. command!" "Welcome [to the city where] sometimes illegal aliens run right down the street!" "NAFTA, GATT and the World Trade Organization have become huge kick-me signs on the back of Uncle Sam!" Pat, they were told over and over, was the man they could trust to lead them out of darkness. Pat was the man, the speakers assured, who "speaks directly to the American people" and who "you can trust on the oar." The crowd, moist-eyed with hope and fever, cheered themselves hoarse. "Amen!" they shouted. "Run on a third party, Pat!" "U.S. Taxpayers Party!" Up in the balcony, a heavyset man jumped up and wheeled around on the journalists behind him, yelling, "Report it! Report it!" And as the Buchananites cheered, they raised their eyes longingly upward and to the right of the stage, hoping for just one more glimpse of the opera-box inhabitants on high.Then Representative Duncan Hunter took the podium. In the middle of rallying the troops, he slipped in the idea that while Clinton "is going to try to divide the Republican Party . . . It's not going to work, because Pat Buchanan is not going to allow it to work."In the orchestra seats, Gerald Wall shot a look at Burl Adkins. "Sounds like Pat's going to endorse [Dole]." Adkins sat very still and said nothing.Sure enough, the peasants were not being warmed up for battle after all. They were being softened for the kill. And the man appointed to deliver the death blow was none other than Oliver North.The band struck up the Marine Corps anthem as the lieutenant colonel ascended the stage to speak of that "dear, dear friend of mine, Pat Buchanan." After regaling the audience with one more recitation of Pat's virtues, North got to the point: "I know that some came here urging the formation of a new political party." He was interrupted with cheers -- and a shouted nomination of Ollie as Pat's veep in this third party. Then he lowered the boom: they should "take the pitchforks to the parapets and fight the good fight" -- but only in defense of the Grand Old Party. A chorus of "No! No! No!" went up around the hall. Around me, the Michigan delegation sat sullenly. The woman in the seat to my right was incensed. She reached into her bag and thrust a stack of fliers at me, ordering me to pass them down. The flier, filled with dense type, read in part:"Delegates are meant to be part of a TV extravaganza to create the illusion that the GOP rank & file support Dole . . . Let's not split hairs! Dole, Clinton, ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN et al. are on the same team. Please, God! There are some delegates here in San Diego who will have the leadership and courage to oppose this hoax from the floor!"People were still yelling "No!" but North had abandoned the stage and a red, white and blue costumed barbershop quartet jumped in front of the curtain and drowned out the dissent: "I'm sitting on the top of the world," they crooned. "Like Humpty Dumpty, I'm ready to fall!"Soothed by the singers' version of "God Bless America," a lengthy and treacly documentary about Pat's native goodness, and a stirring homage to their Braveheart by Phyllis Schlafly, the crowd was more or less sedated by the time Pat took the stage. He told them he had entered the race as a "voice for the voiceless," for "the defenseless unborn." He assured his hapless already-born supporters that the Buchanan campaign had scored a great victory by preserving the anti-abortion plank in the GOP platform -- and that so much of the platform was Buchanan-inspired that "We should be demanding royalties . . . This party is becoming a Buchanan party." He did not mention what they all had heard on the news: the GOP leaders had said repeatedly that they hadn't bothered to read the platform, and Dole himself had announced he would not be bound by it. A few voices in the audience called out for a walkout on the convention floor. "If we walk," Buchanan said, "look who we leave behind.""We can walk out together," another cried."Start a third party!"But Buchanan just kept to the script. "America doesn't necessarily need a third party," he told them. "What we need is a fighting second party." The party, he said, "needs a temporary truce," a truce between "nobles and knights and even peasants with pitchforks." He paused for the predictable catch in the throat, just loud enough for the microphones to pick it up. "Even if I don't reach that promised land," he said, "you will be there."The band struck up, Buchanan vanished, and the peasants went out into the night to seek their truce. On the way out, I ran into Mark Forton, co-chair of the Buchanan campaign in Michigan and a delegate from the fabled Macomb County, birthplace of the Reagan Democrats. Forton is a Reagan Democrat himself, a UAW member and lifelong worker at Chrysler's Sterling Heights plant, where he worked his way up from hand-loading boxcars to material control and inventory. He was now doing his best to convince himself that what he had witnessed was not a setback. "A lot of people here are tired of getting hammered by the people at the top, so there's a lot of frustration," he said. "The core problem is, we'll work our tails off for the party, but we will never get a thank-you. If [Dole] wins, we'll get no thank-you. And if he loses, we'll get the blame." So had Buchanan thrown them to the lions? Forton stared at his shoes, thinking. "I told him," he said after a while, "wherever he leads, I'll follow."In the lobby, Richard Avard, a Buchanan supporter from Orange County, smoothed the bib on his brand-new overalls, purchased for the occasion. "Well, this was supposed to be a pitchfork reception," he explained of his outfit. He had, in fact, brought a pitchfork to the rally. But the security guards took it from him at the door. He shrugged. It was okay, he supposed. After all, the pitchfork was only for show.The Louisiana delegation was camped at the Best Western's Seven Seas Lodge on Hotel Circle South, alongside the interstate and far from the glittering waterfront where all the lavish GOP parties were being held or the elegant oceanside spread of the Hotel del Coronado where Senator Alfonse D'Amato's Dole-pledged New York delegation was ensconced. Like the Michigan delegates, many of the struggling Louisianans were sleeping several in a room; the $77-a-night charge would have otherwise been prohibitive. The air conditioning wasn't working in many of their rooms, and Tuesday morning found several of the Buchanan delegation from Louisiana attempting to cool off at the hotel's outdoor cafe, overlooking the parking lot. The conversation, however, soon turned heated.If they weren't going to walk away from the party, half the delegates argued, they could at least walk out during Representative Susan Molinari's keynote convention address on Tuesday night. She was pro-choice, and hadn't Buchanan said to them at the rally and many times before, "The day my party walks away from the innocent unborn, that's the day it ceases to be my party"? But others interpreted their leader's words differently. "Now, boss man said truce," one of the delegates argued. "I clearly recall the boss man said truce.""Well, we're going to walk," a woman in the first camp declared. "This isn't just about Dole. This is to keep the '94 revolution alive in Congress."By Tuesday evening, the Louisiana delegates were at their positions under the Louisiana sign on the convention floor. They had been assigned a back section, behind a pillar and a group of young party operatives waving Dole/Kemp signs. The Dole floor managers hovered around their seats, making veiled threats about "your future in the party." Sandy McDade, the Louisiana delegate who had first introduced the treacherous idea of a walkout to her brethren, was back-pedaling in a hurry. "The whole thing started as an offhand remark," she told me. "I said we should walk off while we were standing here yesterday evening, and before I knew it, by the next morning [Buchanan delegates in] nine states were all saying they wanted to walk out."Party loyalist and delegate Ben Bagert worked his way down the row of folding chairs and hung over Sandy McDade's seat. "None of your people are walking out, now, are they?" he asked."I put the word out very clearly not to disrespect [Molinari]," she assured him."It's these biddies," he said. They were making all the trouble.She looked at him sharply. "They are Republican women," she corrected. He just grinned and moved on.It wasn't just the Dole managers who were discouraging the mini-strike. That morning, Pat Buchanan had personally told McDade to lay off, too. Now she was busy trying to dampen the protest -- and offering a tepid replacement. Instead, when Molinari took the stage, they should all wave their pro-life hats. What message that would actually deliver was unclear. The hats in question were plain white cowboy hats. Only the subtle motto on the band -- "The Life of the Party!" -- signaled their viewpoint.Michael Bayham, who at 22 was one of the younger Louisiana delegates, assured me that his delegation was not going to settle for the white-hat wave. "There are at least 12 of us who are going to walk," he said. "I don't think Pat's totally against us walking out on Susan Molinari."Bayham had been drawn to Buchanan's campaign because he seemed to be standing up for "the grassroots people" who were "being walked on" by the political and economic elite. "Pat Buchanan ran against the big-money people. Pat is speaking for the . . . well, not exactly the poor, but the peasants. The political peasants. The people whose voice is within themselves." In his hometown of Chalmette, Michael had seen his father's construction business collapse, a fall he blamed on the Democratic Party and the economic elite's policies. Now his father was a used-car salesman, and Michael hoped to be a journalist, because, he had concluded, "It is an important job," and one with more power than a builder. In the meantime, he had spent virtually all of his money -- he made less than $5,000 last year -- to buy a plane ticket to this convention. And he was walking out."I think everybody with a white hat is walking out," he shouted in my ear, as the speaker before Molinari finished and pre-recorded pep-rally music blared from the speakers around the hall. The Dole ralliers cheering on either side made it almost impossible to move, much less be heard. Bayham, however, was unfazed. "I wouldn't be surprised if you saw only 10 of this delegation left." He handed me his camera. "Will you do me a favor? Will you take my picture as I'm walking out?"Molinari approached the podium, and the Dole claque went crazy, just as the watchful handlers with walkie-talkies had asked them to do. Bayham sneaked a furtive look around. Walking out took on an air of dangerous mutiny. "Any second now, they'll be walking out," he said. His eyes combed the section for signs of exodus, but the other delegates had already placed their white hats back on their heads and were starting to sit down. He shuffled his feet uncertainly. Then he took a deep breath, plunged down the row and over people's knees, and plowed the few yards to the exit. I took up the rear with Bayham's camera held aloft. No one else followed."I think they'll be coming soon," Bayham told me as we stood outside the exit."They're going to be leaving." Doubt, however, had surfaced in his tone. He headed off for the washroom, and then upstairs to the lounge. When I caught up with him later, he reported that the others never came and he suspected that anyone who saw him leave probably "just thought I was going to use the bathroom," he said. "Yeah, it was kind of like the invasion of Normandy. They got all the boats lined up, they were ready to attack, and then I'm the only grunt who jumped out and stormed the beach." So what did he do when the others failed to show? "I hung out in the lounge for a while, then I went to buy a button.""A button?" I asked."Yeah," he said. "A Dole/Kemp button."If it seemed that the Buchanan delegates had sustained more than their share of "slings and arrows" in this convention, the last night promised a final indignity. The party leaders were pressing them to change their vote on the very first ballot -- and vote for Dole. They must sacrifice, as they were told over and over, for the sake of "party unity." The Michigan delegation, which held the largest bloc of Buchanan votes, was facing the greatest pressure from party officials. There were 21 Michigan delegates sworn to Buchanan. By Tuesday night, 18 were still vowing to cast their first ballot for Pat. By the morning the count was down to 12, and those dozen could barely leave their hotel rooms without a party representative appearing at their side.On Wednesday morning, at the Holiday Inn where the Michigan delegation was staying, a swarm of Republican leaders buzzed angrily after Mark Forton and the handful of Michigan delegates still threatening to vote for Pat. Mike Flory, a Michigan delegate, was in a state of moral agony. "They are twisting our arms left and right. They are not even going to give us the opportunity to say Pat's name," he said. "What they don't understand is, we came here to represent people who voted for Buchanan. We have a duty to them. And none of these people walked over from the country clubs. They walked over from the factory floor." A GOP state campaign manager, Paul Welday, materialized then by Mike Flory's elbow. "Mike," he said, "we want you to come back in. This is not the place to fight.""I understand," Mike said in a small voice. "But it's hard. Actions and words are in conflict here."A few feet away, five party loyalists were working over Mark Forton. "Everybody knows you guys fought," wheedled Katie Packer, political director for Dole's campaign in Michigan. "Party unity is so important now. The price is very high.""I don't have a party-unity problem," Forton said. "I'm going to vote for Dole in the fall. But I have an obligation to the people who sent me here." For the next two hours, the Dole-ites hovered and pecked and retreated and swooped down again. By lunchtime, Forton looked like oatmeal. "It's my conscience that's bothering me," he told me as he leaned against a wall in the elevator, the only space in the hotel where he could be left alone. He clutched at the rail as if he might slide to the floor if he didn't hold on. "The governor [of Michigan] wants to get up to the microphone tonight and say, 'The state of Michigan gives all 57 votes to Bob Dole.' What they don't understand is the independents back home who voted for Buchanan, they're not going to understand why I switched my vote. I can't let them down . . . I don't think what we're doing is divisive." But who could think clearly with all the pressure? "I don't know," he said, "maybe what I'm doing is futile."His confusion reaching crisis proportions, Forton decided to seek out Pat at the Buchanan picnic at Shelter Island that afternoon and solicit his advice. On the way over, he tried to convince himself that, really, it was a Buchanan victory he was witnessing in San Diego. "You know, I'm not looking big picture," he said to me, but more to himself. "We won the platform. It's a Buchanan platform. It shows this is a conservative convention. If people only see the speakers, it looks like a liberal, or moderate, convention. But what's real is not the speakers. What's real is the platform. Right?" He ran his hands through his thinning hair and sighed. "We've sat by politely. We weren't disruptive during the Molinari speech. But they literally don't want to give us anything. They've been telling us what to do step by step by step. No one so much as put an arm around me and said, 'I understand how you feel' . . . No one wants to discuss it. It's a dictatorship."By nightfall, all the ballots had been signed by the Michigan delegates. Only five cast their vote for Pat Buchanan. Mark Forton was one of them. He had talked to Buchanan at the picnic, he told me as we stood on the convention floor that evening. "Pat didn't say anything new," Forton yelled over the chants of the Young Republicans chorus line crushing us to the side of the aisle. "He just said we were free to vote as we saw fit. But what cemented it for me was after I talked to him, he talked to the crowd at the picnic. And he said, 'Some of our people for one reason or another will have to vote for Bob Dole.' And people started booing. And I knew that would happen to me when I got home . . . I got elected by a district with unanimous Buchanan support, and that's where my allegiance must be."But he didn't hold it against Pat. "I love him," he said. And evidently none of the picnickers held it against him either -- at least not publicly. After Pat finished his speech, they presented him with a big chrome pitchfork. The next morning, after the ballots were cast, the Louisiana Buchanan delegation sat around a plastic table at the Best Western cafe and tried to figure out, as delegate Ann Reynolds put it, "why they are so scared of 10 little votes." They had, unlike the Michigan delegation, held out and cast their votes for Buchanan, the first votes from the floor to break Dole's unanimous tally. In the end, Dole had gotten 1,928 of the 1,975 votes cast; Buchanan got 43. The Buchanan votes had never posed a threat. So why, the Louisiana delegates asked each other, were the party leaders so desperate to whip them into line?A party leader had even approached Mike Bayham asking if the Buchanan delegation would sign a letter in which they would vow to support the party. A loyalty oath."It's like, did they resurrect Senator McCarthy?" G. Allen Kirkpatrick said. The others nodded painfully."They're not just scared of 10," Charles Bowman, another of the Louisiana Buchanan delegates said, staring at his coffee cup. "They are scared of one! If one is out of step, they're frantic. I think that the Republican Party managers of the convention tried so hard to convince the public that there was party unity that they actually accomplished more dissension and dissatisfaction. Not just with the delegates but with the public at large. That's why half the people who watched the convention last time turned off their TVs this time. By trying to stage a well-managed show, they accomplished the opposite.""Yeah, like that performance by Liddy Dole," Kirkpatrick groaned. "It was like an Amway meeting. An infomercial for the Whopper Chopper. The miracle vegetable slicer! It slices, it dices, it'll even wash your clothes!"Bowman said, "This convention was all about, 'We don't care what you want. You're going to do what we want. You're going to have the same cereal for breakfast, no matter what you want.'"One of the Louisiana delegates alienated by the party-unity putsch wasn't even a Buchananite. James Ball, a Phil Gramm delegate, wound up casting his ballot in protest for someone else entirely: Robert Bork. Paul Graugnard, one of the Buchanan delegates around the Best Western cafe table, recounted the event inspiring Ball's rebellion. It all came to a head the morning of the vote, he said, at the delegates' breakfast. Phil Gramm was the featured speaker. "Gramm got up there and he said words to the effect that, 'Pat Buchanan is only learning now what I learned a long time ago -- when to sit down and shut up.' And then he said, 'When this convention is over, there will be two kinds of Republicans: patriots and traitors. And I am a patriot.'" Graugnard paused to mash out his cigarette, his disgust evident in the crushed stub. "Well," he said, raising his eyebrows, "that was just too much for James." And for the rest of them. All the Buchananites cast their lot with the "traitors." "It seems that by Gramm's comments yesterday, he has become comfortable in his position," Kirkpatrick said. "He used to be a minnow. But now he's one of the sharks."Bowman said: "As Flannery O'Connor wrote, 'Everything that rises must converge.' And that's what happened to Gramm. He became one of them."And what of their candidate? What became of Pat?This was a question they weren't ready to confront. No one wanted to address it beyond assuring me that Pat had "no choice" but to bow to the party's will. It was a "sacrifice" he had to make. They still wanted to see him as William Wallace, chained to the rack and tortured by King Edward's sadistic henchmen. No one wanted to say that Buchanan, in fact, was unmanacled. That he didn't sacrifice anything by his concession. That, rather, he gained an entrance ticket to the political club, the club of sharks. And that his decision to go along with the party had everything to do with his own aspirations for GOP nobility -- and nothing to do with his constituents' desires and dreams.Bowman astutely observed that the convention represented a curious turning point in American politics. "The Dole campaign and its managers did something quite unique," he said. "We've seen before the media trying to be politicians. But this is the first time ever we've seen politicians trying to be the media." Bowman, however, failed to name the figure who would seem most an illustration of this point. The man most emblematic of both the politically biased media pundit and the media-savvy entertainer-politician. The Crossfire host cum presidential candidate. Their candidate, Pat the Bruce."I'm not going to watch the [Dole acceptance] speech tonight," Charles Bowman said. "I'm going home today. You know, I'd foreseen this would happen. Deep down, the body of politicians in this country no longer trust the American electorate, or they think we're stupid and can be manipulated, which is even scarier."He wasn't sure which it was. But for now, he was heading home to Louisiana, "where people still demand to see a battle in their politics, where they demand to make the decisions." And the rest of them would soon be joining him. But only after they attended one last event, "The Patrick J. Buchanan Finale '50s Barbeque" on Silver Strand Beach, in the shadow of that modern-day palace for the political elite, the Hotel del Coronado.

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