Kevin M. Kruse @KevinMKruse Historian. Author/editor of White Flight; The New Suburban History; Spaces of the Modern City; Fog of War; One Nation Under God; Fault Lines. Feb. 22, 2019 1 min read

One thing I left out in this thread -- the Agnew speech that inspired anti-Semites was written by none other than Pat Buchanan.

The Nixon-Agnew message was largely shaped by two very different speechwriters -- the erudite William Safire and the hard-edged Pat Buchanan.

As he noted in his memoir Before the Fall, Safire crafted some memorable lines for Agnew, including the famous alliterative phrases:

But that Des Moines speech -- the one that anti-Semites responded to -- wasn't written by Safire (who was himself Jewish) but by Buchanan.

As Safire recalled, Buchanan bore most of the responsibility for it and excitedly noted that the confrontational tone "flicked the scab off"

As Safire notes there, Nixon signed off on the speech himself.

And as we know from the Oval Office tapes -- including this 2/1/1972 conversation with Billy Graham and H.R Haldeman -- Nixon himself complained at length that the media was "totally Jewish."

Note that Nixon qualifies his complaints about Jews there to say "the best Jews are Israeli Jews"

His vice president, as we know now, later sought and received funds from Saudi Arabia to "continue my fight against the Zionist enemies who are destroying my once great nation"

While Agnew went looking for funds to fight "Zionist enemies," Pat Buchanan -- the man who wrote the Des Moines speech -- launched a political career of his own.

When Buchanan launched his 1992 GOP presidential campaign, questions about his anti-Semitic comments came up repeatedly.

Here's Alan Dershowitz in Nov. 1991, likening Buchanan to former Klan leader David Duke, who'd just lost a race as the GOP nominee for governor in Louisiana.

Some prominent conservatives denounced Buchanan for his anti-Semitism, just as President George H.W. Bush had denounced David Duke.

Here's William F. Buckley in December 1991, for example.

The criticism even came from Buchanan's old writing partner in the Nixon White House, William Safire:


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