Patrick Buchanan as Deep Throat? Why It's Not Such a Mystery After AllPolls
Most Americans believe that Deep Throat was a national hero. Many have been puzzled that he hasn't identified himself and basked in the glory. But that could be because his motivations were complex.
Following a painstaking three-year investigation, University of Illinois Professor William Gaines's 40 students recently voted unanimously that they believe Patrick Buchanan was Deep Throat. But while they established that Buchanan had the opportunity and the means to play the role of White House whistleblower, they did not provide a motive. I think he had one, though few are aware of it.
On the surface, Buchanan had every reason to stick by Nixon. Like Nixon, he believed in playing politics rough. In April 1972, Buchanan was in charge of "opposition research" in the Nixon White House. In an April 10, 1972 memo, Buchanan urged the Nixon White House to mount covert operations to harass and embarrass Democratic rivals and laid out his ideas to accomplish this. "Buchanan and his top aides recommended staging counterfeit attacks by one Democrat upon another, messing up scheduled events, arranging demonstrations and spreading rumors to plague the Democrats," reported the Washington Post in a March 4, 1996 story.
Also like Nixon, Buchanan concealed his activities from investigators, flatly denying in sworn testimony before the Watergate Committee in 1973 that he was aware of any "covert operations" Republicans had sponsored for the 1972 Democratic National Convention.
Yet when Bob Woodward appeared on CNN's Larry King Live on February 13, 1996, he reported that Buchanan believed early on that Nixon must resign and was very active in his removal. How could that be? A clue to the mystery lies in Buchanan's ultraconservative Catholic outlook.
BUCHANAN AND THE CATHOLIC CHURCH
In an interview appearing in the August 28, 1988 issue of Our Sunday Visitor,
Buchanan responded to the question, "What kind of Catholic are you?"
by saying, "A believing Catholic, a practicing Catholic and a papist. I
think John Paul II is a singular leader of our time
.. he speaks out with
a sense of authority and moral courage. I think he's a genuinely great man,
really a gift of God to the Church. And in virtually all the quarrels in which
he's engaged, I'm on his side."
In 1964, Pope Paul VI created the Papal Commission on Population and Birth Control. It was divided into two groups, one consisting of 64 lay persons, the other, of 15 cardinals and bishops, among them Karol Wojtyla the future Pope John Paul II, then a Polish cardinal. Pope Paul charged them with only one mission - to determine how the Church could change its position on birth control without undermining papal authority. After two years of study, the Commission concluded in 1966 that it was not possible to make this change without undermining papal authority, but that the Church should do so in any case because it was the right thing to do! The lay members voted 60 to 4 for change, and the cardinals and bishops, 9 to 6 for change.
A minority report was co-authored by Karol Wojtyla who is now Pope John Paul II. In this and other texts, the future pope convincingly argued that a change on the birth control issue would destroy the principle of papal infallibility and that infallibility was the fundamental principle of the Church upon which all else rests. A change on birth control would immediately raise questions about other possible errors popes have made in matters of divorce, homosexuality, priestly celibacy, confession, parochial schooling, etc. that are fundamental to Roman Catholicism. In 1968, Paul VI accepted the view of the minority report and issued Humanae Vitae, which banned birth control for all time.
What does the Church's position on birth control have to do with Richard Nixon?
On July 18, 1969, Nixon sent to Congress his "Special Message on Problems of Population Growth." Special Messages to the Congress are exceedingly rare and this was the first such message on population. For the first time, the United States was committed to confronting the population problem. And in an equally rare action, this message was approved by the Congress. Its passage was bipartisan, indicating broad political support for American political action to combat the problem of overpopulation. The message was a watershed development, though few recall it.
The most important element of the Special Message was its creation of the Commission on Population Growth and the American Future. During the signing of the measure establishing the commission on March 16, 1970, Nixon commented: "I believe this is an historic occasion. It has been made historic not simply by the act of the President in signing this measure, but by the fact that it has had bipartisan support and also such broad support in the Nation."
The 24-member Commission was chaired by John D. Rockefeller 3rd. It ordered
more than 100 research projects, which collected and analyzed data that would
make possible the formulation of a comprehensive U.S. population policy. After
two years of intensive deliberations, the Commission completed a 186-page report,
and the American Future, which offered more than 70
recommendations. The recommendations were a bold but sane response to the
challenges we faced in 1972. For example, they called for:
· passage of a population Education Act to help school systems establish well-planned education programs;
· sex education to be widely available, especially through the schools;
· passage of the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA);
· contraception to be available for all, including minors, at government expense if need be;
· abortion for all who want it, at government expense if necessary;
· vastly expanded research in many areas related to population growth control;
· and the elimination of all employment of illegal aliens.
On May 5, 1972, at a ceremony held to formally submit the Commission's findings and conclusions, President Nixon publicly renounced the report. This was six months before he faced re-election and he was feeling intense political heat from the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church. Under Vatican leadership, the American bishops intervened. Nixon was convinced by his advisors that he could not confront the bishops on this issue and win reelection in the fall of 1972. In his book, Catholic Bishops in American Politics, Timothy Byrnes, states, "[Nixon] communicated that disavowal in an equally public letter to Cardinal Terence Cooke, a leading spokesman for the bishops' opposition to abortion...The Catholic vote was especially important to Nixon and his publicists in 1972."
None of the more than three-score recommendations that collectively would have created a comprehensive U.S. population policy was ever implemented. Not one was ever adopted. To this day, the United States has no population policy.
In May 1973, Ambassador Adolph Schmidt asked his friend, Rockefeller, what had gone wrong? Rockefeller responded: "The greatest difficulty has been the very active opposition by the Roman Catholic Church through its various agencies in the United States." In 1992, one Commission member, Congressman James Scheuer (D.-NY), spoke out publicly for the first time on the matter: "Our exuberance was short-lived. Then-President Richard Nixon promptly ignored our final report. The reasons were obvious - fear of attacks from the far right and from the Roman Catholic Church because of our positions on family planning and abortion. With the benefit of hindsight, it is now clear that this obstruction was but the first of many similar actions to come from high places."
Curiously, despite his opposition to the first report on population, on April 24, 1974, Nixon again acted boldly by ordering another population-security study be undertaken-National Security Study Memorandum 200 (NSSM 200)--one perhaps even more threatening to the survival of the Papacy than the first one. Nixon must have known that he would encounter the same implacable Vatican hostility to this report that he had experienced to the Rockefeller Report. Yet he went ahead anyway--perhaps because by then he felt he had little to lose.
NSSM 200 was the most significant act Nixon undertook with regard to the population crisis. Nixon directed that a comprehensive new study be undertaken to determine the "Implications of World Population Growth for U.S. Security and Overseas Interests." The report of this study would become one of the most important documents on world population growth ever written. In the 2-page memo, National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger, acting for the President, directed the secretaries of Defense and Agriculture, the director of the Central Intelligence Agency, the deputy secretary of state, and the administrator of the Agency for International Development, to undertake the population study jointly.
On August 9, 1974, Gerald Ford succeeded to the Presidency. Revisions of the study continued until July, 1975. On November 26, 1975, the 227-page report and its recommendations were endorsed by President Ford in National Security Decision Memorandum 314: "The President has reviewed the interagency response to NSSM 200...," wrote the new National Security Advisor, Brent Scowcroft. "He believes that United States leadership is essential to combat population growth, to implement the World Population Plan of Action and to advance United States security and overseas interests. The President endorses the policy recommendations contained in the Executive Summary of the NSSM 200 response..."
The intense concern of the authors of the NSSM 200 report is clearly evident. NSSM 200 reports: "There is a major risk of severe damage [from continuing rapid population growth] to world economic, political, and ecological systems and, as these systems begin to fail, to our humanitarian values." "World population growth is widely recognized within the Government as a current danger of the highest magnitude calling for urgent measures." "It is of the utmost urgency that governments now recognize the facts and implications of population growth, determine the ultimate population sizes that make sense for their countries and start vigorous programs at once to achieve their desired goals."
NSSM 200 made the following recommendations, to mention a few:
· The United States would provide world leadership in population growth control.
· The United States would seek to attain its own population stability by the year 2000. This would have required a one-child family policy for this country, thanks to the phenomenon of demographic momentum, a requirement the authors well understood.
· Recognize goals for the United States: making family planning information, education and means available to all people of the developing world by 1980, and achieving a 2-child family in the developing countries by 2000.
· The United States would provide substantial funds to help achieve these goals.
But, as with the Rockefeller Commission Report, the implementation of recommendations made in NSSM 200 - approved by President Ford, and so communicated to all relevant Departments and Agencies in our government - was halted mainly through the influence of the same opposition that had precluded adoption of the Rockefeller Commission recommendations. None of them was ever implemented.
Had the recommendations of NSSM 200 been implemented in 1975, the world would be very different today. The adoption of the World Population Plan of Action by consensus of the 137 countries represented at the United Nations World Population Conference at Bucharest in August 1974 (the first such conference) had set the stage for dealing with this gravely serious problem. According to the authors of the NSSM 200 Report, only the Vatican objected to the plan. At that moment, the 137 governments of the countries present were ready to act. With U.S. leadership and resources, the plan could have been successfully implemented. The NSSM 200 Report predicted that the prospects would have been improved for every nation and people to be significantly more secure. There would have been less civil and regional warfare, less starvation and hunger, a cleaner environment and less disease, greater educational opportunities, expanded civil rights, especially for women, and a political climate more conducive to the expansion of democracy. Now there are 3 billion more of us
Knowing this history, is it any wonder that Patrick Buchanan came to the conclusion, as Woodward revealed on Larry King Live, that Nixon had to go? Both the Rockefeller Commission study and the NSSM 200 study threatened the Papacy by putting the Pope on a collision course with civil authorities. As Nixon set about leading the nations of the world to provide contraception and birth control to every sexually active person on the planet, and at the same time providing the moral grounds for their use, it is not hard to understand why Buchanan, his erstwhile apologist, might have concluded that Nixon posed a serious threat to Catholic orthodoxy-and to the Catholic Church itself.
Patrick Buchanan was certainly motivated to drive Nixon from the Presidency. Buchanan's writings are everywhere. He is sufficiently brazen and arrogant and has the passion and commitment to his church and Pope John Paul II, as he described in the interview in Our Sunday Visitor, to undertake the "Deep Throat" role. His ultraconservative Catholic views are widely known. His presidential campaign fund raising letters read as if they were written by the Pope. He referred to abortion as the slaughter of children and murder. He called for the passage of a human life amendment to the U.S. Constitution, the penultimate political goal of the U.S. bishops and the Vatican. He even said he was at war :
"I believe we are engaged in a war - a battle for the lives of the unborn. It is a cultural and religious war, and America's soul is at stake. . . How do we win this war? We start with a pro-life President. We need a President with conviction who will never compromise, barter, or negotiate on the issue of life."
Richard Nixon was not such a President. In fact, his Rockefeller Commission and NSSM 200 study recommendations, if implemented, would have given great legitimacy to the widespread use of abortion and would have helped the very forces Buchanan subsequently declared war on. Just as Woodward reported on Larry King Live, Buchanan recognized early on that Nixon must go and was very much an activist in his removal - but for reasons very different from those professed to Woodward. Hence, this history reveals that Patrick Buchanan's commitment to his religious beliefs may have played a key role in the removal of President Nixon.
comments powered by Disqus
Mark Anderson - 10/20/2003
Does anybody actually believe that an intelligent reporter would ever give accurate info as to possibly identify a confidential source. Info such as "scotch drinking smoker". Woodward must be just hootin' over such nonsense, and the fact that people buy it.
tom - 2/27/2003
Could it have been Mark Felt? No. That is, not if ALL THE PRESIDENT'S MEN is historically accurate. Woodstein describe Deep Throat as a tall cigarette-smoking Scotch lover. Felt is about 5'7" and never smoked.
dan - 2/25/2003
While the Cosntitution gives you the right to state your opinion (that abortion is murder), it also precludes you from making that neoreligious viewpoint into law.
Of course, a Constitutional Amendment might work.
Dave Livingston - 12/24/2002
From reading Munford's essay this onetime fan of Richard M. Nixon is for the first time gratified he was driven from the White House and my opinion of Pat Buchanan has taken a huge bound upwards.
For one thing, the whining plaint about the approaching horrors of overpopulation have proven to be so much Malthusian, Lester Brown and Club of Rome style panic over a nonexistent problem, so much humbug.
Secondly, abortion IS the murder of innocent life. As someone said, "The society that kills its young is not taking the long view."
Calling Pat Buchanan arrogant to be willing to pull the plug on the Nixon administration is the denigration of the virtues of commitment and honor, virtues readily mocked by one who honors not those virtues.
The report "Population and the American Future" as outlined in Munford's essay is denotes a plan of pure unadulterated EVIL. It clearly is the handiwork of Satan himself.
Boys & girls get used to it, us Catholics comprise a third of this nation's population and we are growing both in absolute numbers and as percentage of the nation's population. Too, because much of the Church's growth comes from the fast-growing religiously and socially conservative Hispanic population the Church as a whole is growing increasingly more conservative, which suits me just fine.
Like it or not, according to the once-a-decade Glenmary survey, http://www.glenmary.org, released 17 September, a survey overseen by a Church of the Nazarene minister the Roman Catholic Church grew +16% over the decade, 1990-2000, to 62,035,042 adherents.
The study derived figures for the 15 largest religious denominations in the country, which together claim as adherents 50% of the U.S. population. BUT 70% of Americans claim to belong to one denomination or another. In short, the claims of the denominations rather than being overstatements appear to be understatements.
It baffles me, a convert to Catholicism, how anyone could not be persuaded by the First Cause and Prime Mover arguments.
Those who refuse to give the Faith an honest and serious consideration have my pity. And my prayers that they come to their senses.
Dave Livingston - 12/24/2002
From reading Munford's essay this onetime fan of Richard M. Nixon is for the first time gratified he was driven from the White House and my opinion of Pat Buchanan has taken a huge bound upwards. For one thing, the whining plaint about the approaching horrors of overpopulation have proven to be so much Malthusian, Lester Brown and Club of Rome style panic over a nonexistent problem, so much humbug. Secondly, abortion IS the murder of innocent life. As someone said, "The society that kills its young is not taking the long view." Calling Pat Buchanan arrogant to be willing to pull the plug on the Nixon administration is the denigration of the virtues of commitment and honor, virtues readily mocked by one who honors not those virtues. The report "Population and the American Future" as outlined in Munford's essay is denotes a plan of pure unadulterated EVIL. It clearly is the handiwork of Satan himself. Boys & girls get used to it, us Catholics comprise a third of this nation's population and we are growing both in absolute numbers and as percentage of the nation's population. Too, because much of the Church's growth comes from the fast-growing religiously and socially conservative Hispanic population the Church as a whole is growing increasingly more conservative, which suits me just fine. Like it or not, according to the once-a-decade Glenmary survey, http://www.glenmary.org, released 17 September, a survey overseen by a Church of the Nazarene minister the Roman Catholic Church grew +16% over the decade, 1990-2000, to 62,035,042 adherents. The study derived figures for the 15 largest religious denominations in the country, which together claim as adherents 50% of the U.S. population. BUT 70% of Americans claim to belong to one denomination or another. In short, the claims of the denominations rather than being overstatements appear to be understatements. It baffles me, a convert to Catholicism, how anyone could not be persuaded by the First Cause and Prime Mover arguments. Those who refuse to give the Faith an honest and serious consideration have my pity. And my prayers thart they come to their senses.
Stephen D. Mumford - 7/25/2002
John Donovan may be correct that Albino Luciano -- later John Paul I was part of the Birth Control Commisson, though I have never seen any mention of this in my readings on this topic. However, he is most certainly not correct on the matter of John Paul II. John Paul II has personnally confirmed that he was part of the commission. I encourage Mr. Donovan to see the April 10, 1995 issue of Newsweek (page 66). Another option is the book by Tad Szule, Pope John Paul II, The Biography, upon which this article was based.
John Donovan - 7/24/2002
I suppose it is plausible that Buchanan was "Deep Throat," but I don't think John Paul II was part of the Birth Control Commission established by Paul VI. That was Albino Luciani -- later John Paul I. Luciani agreed that the church's position on contraception could be modified.
Paul Chadwick - 7/18/2002
From Josh Marshall's Talking Points Memo website (http://talkingpointsmemo.com/june0203.html:
Here's the key exchange between Wolf Blitzer and Bob Woodward from Monday night.
BLITZER: In the past, when
people have guessed who Deep
Throat was, like Alexander Haig
and John Dean, years ago,
you've denied it. I noticed
yesterday on "Meet the Press"
when they said -- they asked you
about Pat Buchanan, you sort of
threw your hands up in the air
with a "No comment." What's all
WOODWARD: Lots of people
have died, people have taken --
gone off the list because we've
taken them off the list. So it's a
narrowing group. And our job is
to protect sources. And by
further reducing the list, we tend
to jeopardize disclosure of that
source before he wants to be
BLITZER: He's still alive right
now, Deep Throat.
WOODWARD: Last I checked.
BLITZER: And you're still in
touch with him?
WOODWARD: I'm just not
going to get into that.
Like I said last night, it just doesn't sound
like a persuasive explanation of Woodward's
change of policy.
-- Josh Marshall
(June 18th, 2002 -- 7:51 PM EDT // link)
Okay, here's a question. Over the last couple
decades I can think of a few individuals who
Bob Woodward has ruled out as being Deep
Throat. He declined to rule out Pat
Buchanan over the weekend. Is anyone
aware of an instance between the mid-1970s
and last weekend when Woodward similarly
declined to rule out a possible Deep Throat
candidate when questioned on the matter
If so, please let me know.
-- Josh Marshall
(June 17th, 2002 -- 10:06 PM EDT // link)
Okay, I was positive Deep Throat was
Patrick J. Buchanan, as I argued and
explained in the previous post. Then I got an
email from a Talking Points reader who told
me that on Hardball tonight Buchanan
"gave a rousing
denial to Chris
I didn't think that
killed my theory;
but I'd be lying if I
told you it didn't
seem to land a
pretty solid left hook on it. After all, Deep
Throat has an obvious reason to lie about his
role. The fact that Woodward would so
conspicuously refuse to deny the allegation
still spoke volumes.
In any case, I flipped on Hardball for the 9
PM replay and watched attentively and with
no little apprehension until Buchanan and
David Gergen were interviewed in the last
And now I'm even more positive that it's
I'll post the transcript when I get it and then
we'll know word for word. But, as I heard it,
Buchanan gave a very artful but also quite
clear non-denial denial. I listened very closely
for any sort of specific declarative denial.
And I never heard it. Gergen denied it; but
He said he wouldn't hang out in a basement
parking garage to meet a reporter, that the
Nixon loyalists wouldn't have betrayed
Nixon, yada, yada, yada. But no denial.
Look, the real denial talks and 'yada' walks.
Or something like that. Okay, that didn't
work. But the bottom line, if it's not him why
no real denial?
And for Chris Matthews? You totally didn't
follow up! What's it now? "I'm Chris
Matthews. Let's play T-ball"?
P.S. Late update: Another reader now writes
in to tell me that Buchanan gave an
"unqualified denial to Chris Wallace later on
MSNBC." We'll see. I mean, I want to
confirm this, if true. But to find out I'd have
to sit down on the couch and watch hours of
MSNBC? Is it really worth it?
P.P.S ... Okay, now I have listened to what
turns out to have been Forrest Sawyer's
interview with Buchanan on MSNBC. And
after a few yadas, Sawyer pressed Buchanan
and he responded by what I heard as "I,
Patrick Buchanan, am not Deep Throat."
But, frankly, I'm not yet convinced.
-- Josh Marshall
bill henslee - 7/18/2002
Nice try--but I suspect your animaversion to Catholic teaching on birth control is the controlling factor in your essay, rather than a logical explanation as to why Buchannon might be Deep Throat. The major flaw in this theory is that according to your reading of Buchannon, Nixon's successor would be worse than Nixon on the birth control issue. By the way, I'm not Catholic so I don't have a dog in that hunt.
J. Kent McGaughy - 7/18/2002
Mumford has certainly posited an interesting theory. I would regard his argument as more convincing if he could cite evidence of Buchanan's staunch Catholic views prior to the Watergate scandal rather than relying on a 1988 interview. Considering Buchanan's strong views and consistancy, such evidence most likely exists, it's simply a matter of locating it.
Pierre S. Troublion - 7/18/2002
If Pat Buchanan is as devout as this article contends, maybe he will one day "confess" his "deep throat role". In the meantime, failing other evidence, this theory is only a theory.
It should also be pointed out that -from the purely practical standpoint of feeding empty mouths- abortion on demand is one of the least effective means of slowing population growth. The failure to think practically about education and social security as alternatives to baby-making is a bigger reason (than conservative Catholicism) why the U.S. and the World lack a coherent population policy.
- The Debt Ceiling Law is now a Tool of Partisan Political Power; Abolish It
- Amitai Etzioni, Theorist of Communitarianism, Dies at 94
- Kagan, Sotomayor Join SCOTUS Cons in Sticking it to Unions
- New Evidence: Rehnquist Pretty Much OK with Plessy v. Ferguson
- Ohio Unions Link Academic Freedom and the Freedom to Strike
- First Round of Obama Administration Oral Histories Focus on Political Fault Lines and Policy Tradeoffs
- The Tulsa Race Massacre was an Attack on Black People; Rebuilding Policies were an Attack on Black Wealth
- British Universities are Researching Ties to Slavery. Conservative Alumni Say "Enough"
- Martha Hodes Reconstructs Her Memory of a 1970 Hijacking
- Jeremi Suri: Texas Higher Ed Conflict "Doesn't Have to Be This Way"
- New transcript of Ayn Rand at West Point in 1974 shows she claimed “savage" Indians had no right to live here just because they were born here
- The Mexican War Suggests Ukraine May End Up Conceding Crimea. World War I Suggests the Price May Be Tragic if it Doesn't
- The Vietnam War Crimes You Never Heard Of