Revisiting Pat Buchanan’s 1992 Culture War Speech

RUSH: By the way, it’s Pearl Harbor Day today. I wonder if anybody will remember George Bush, the last World War II president. In fact, George H. W. Bush is the last president this country has had who fought in a war where America won. He’s the last president who fought in one. He’s not the last president who was president when America was victorious in a war. But he’s the last president to have fought in one, and that has ramifications. So, anyway, here’s how this CNN story begins — and, by the way, I’ll tell you something else we’re gonna do today, I think. I’m still in the process of trying to figure it out.

The last two days, in covering the funeral and the presidency and the life and times of George H. W. Bush, quite unintendedly I ended up speaking a lot yesterday about history and the 1992 Republican National Convention. That happened because I was reacting to things I was seeing in the news, such as, “George H. W. Bush: The last man of civility, the last man of temperance, the last presidency with bipartisanship. Now with George Bush gone, so goes America. We’re never going to have these wonderful days again. Why can’t we go back to them?

“Of course, the reason we can’t is Donald Trump, blah, blah, blah.” You know the drill. I made the point yesterday, and it’s important to make it again, that what we’ve seen in the past two days — the funeral ceremonies and George H. W. Bush — we’re not looking at American politics as it used to be because it’s never been that way. We’re looking at what America culture used to be! When we’re watching the Bush family and the way they’re conducting their affairs and the way they are speaking of their fallen patriarch….

And the way his friends have eulogized him and the way the whole thing was planned, the way it was carried out, the way it was executed flawlessly. These are old American cultural values that are on display. It’s those that we have lost. It’s those values, it’s that culture, it is that America that people yearn for. Not a return to the fifties, but a return to a code, a return to a common-sense definition of morality and values and virtue, along with the democratic recognition that the majority rules with compassion for losers in the minority and so forth.

All of that’s gone! Now, they tried to tell us that what we were looking at was the way politics used to be in the way George H. W. Bush was being lauded, celebrated, praised. Not true, ladies and gentlemen! That’s not at all true. Our politics has never been that. American culture is what we saw on parade, a lost America. So, as evidence of this, I shared memories of the 1992 Republican convention where it could be said that the modern-day culture war actually began.

So what we did, we went back to the audio archives, and I got some samples of Pat Buchanan’s speech. It was a call to arms of the culture war that we were just entering, and why the Democrat Party — as epitomized by Bill and Hillary Clinton — posed a grave threat in this regard. I realized talking about it yesterday, a lot of people weren’t alive then or old enough then to remember it. So if I want to go back, I’ve got the sound bites from Buchanan’s speech, and it’s amazing how prescient he was.

If you have not heard this, if you weren’t old enough or you weren’t alive, you’ll go, “Wow!” when you hear some of these. And there’s another thing that I wanted to do. I wanted to contrast the funeral proceedings for George H. W. Bush with the Wellstone memorial. So if I want to do that, we’ve got the bites here. We’ll do an A-B, side-by-side comparison, and you will be blown away by the incomparable difference in the way both were conducted. You will realize our politics has never been what the media and others would like you to believe they were when George H. W. Bush was president.

BREAK TRANSCRIPT

RUSH: I need to get started here on the audio sound bites if I’m gonna get all of these in. We’re gonna start here on August 17, ’92. This was the Republican convention in Houston. Pat Buchanan spoke. This is the speech, by the way, the Republican establishment tried to say is why Bush lost to Bill Clinton. It was the same then as it is now. The conservatives are always the reason Republicans lose and talking about abortion is to blame — although I think we’re so past that. But depending on what age Republican establishmentarian you talk to, they still think abortion is the reason Republicans don’t win anything. So not the case. But again, one of the reasons I’m doing this is to show you what it was like in 1992 and to show you the deterioration in our culture had started by then, and that Donald Trump has nothing to do with it.

BUCHANAN: George Bush, the defender of right to life and a champion of the Judeo-Christian values and beliefs upon which America was founded!

CROWD: (wild cheers)

BUCHANAN: When the Irish-Catholic governor of Pennsylvania, Robert Casey, asked to say a few words on behalf of the 25 million unborn children destroyed since Roe v. Wade, Bob Casey was told there was no room for him at the podium at Bill Clinton’s convention and no room at the inn.

CROWD: (booing)

BUCHANAN: Yet… Yet a militant leader of the homosexual rights movement could rise at that same convention and say Bill Clinton and Al Gore represent the most pro-lesbian and pro-gay ticket in history — and so they do!

CROWD: (cheering)

RUSH: Then Buchanan went after Hillary Clinton and radical feminism…

BUCHANAN: Hillary has compared marriage and the family as institutions to slavery and life on an Indian reservation.

CROWD: (booing)

BUCHANAN: Well, speak for yourself, Hillary!

CROWD: (cheers and applause)

BUCHANAN: Friends…

CROWD: (chanting) Go, Pat, Go!

BUCHANAN: Friends…

CROWD: (chanting) Go, Pat, Go!

BUCHANAN: This… This, my friends… This is radical feminism, the agenda that Clinton and Clinton would impose on America. Abortion on demand, a litmus test for the Supreme Court, homosexual rights, discrimination against religious schools, women in combat units. That’s change, all right. But that’s not the kind of change America needs, it’s not the kind of change America wants, and it’s not the kind of change we can abide in a nation we still call God’s country.

CROWD: (wild cheers and applause)

RUSH: Now, you can say whatever you want about Pat Buchanan and you can think it. But tell me that he was wrong here. This is 1992. This is 26 years ago. A lot of people recognized where we were going 26 years ago, and it’s in arguable that we got there. It is inarguable. We are there, and the Bush funerals on both Wednesday and Thursday reminded people of a value structure and a culture that isn’t there anymore. It used to be. The Bush family lived it; it was theirs.

It was not our politics. It was about how politics was when Bush was president, like they wanted us to believe. “Well, that’s the kind of politics we need to return to.” Nope, nope, nope, nope, nope. It’s the kind of culture. There wasn’t mad discrimination, racism, bigotry. All of that stuff is accused and made up, made people defensive. This is the next bite, last bite I think we have here is the bite is the line that everybody remembered from that convention…

BUCHANAN: This election is about more than who gets what. It is about who we are. It is about what we believe and what we stand for as Americans. There is a religious war going on in this country. It is a cultural war as critical to the kind of critical nation we shall be as the Cold War itself for this war is for the soul of America — and in that struggle for the soul of America, Clinton and Clinton are on the other side —

CROWD: (cheers)

BUCHANAN: — and George Bush is on our side!

CROWD: (wild cheers and applause)

BUCHANAN: And so to the Buchanan Brigades out there, we have to come home and stand beside George Bush!

RUSH: And that speech was approved by the Bush people. A lot of people were shocked at that, because it’s pretty safe to say it’s not a speech that Bush himself would have given, then or ever. But I wanted to… We talked about it earlier, so I wanted to go back to the archives and replay some of this just for those of you who are too young, weren’t alive then or weren’t old enough to pay attention, that this stuff was all predicted. The things that are roiling our country today were all warned about and predicted 26 years ago, even further back than that.