August 23, 2016

THE REVEREND RINGMASTER:

Hail and Farewell, Brother John McLaughlin (Pat Buchanan, 8/23/16, Imaginative Conservative)

In 1970, Fr. John heard another calling, and, declaring himself a liberal Republican, challenged Sen. John Pastore in his home state of Rhode Island. An unamused Sen. Pastore obliterated John by two-to-one. It was right after this election, while I was vacationing in the Bahamas, that, one morning, I encountered Father John in his Bermuda shorts at a hotel newsstand on Paradise Island. John was soon, at poolside, explaining to me why I, as a Catholic and a beneficiary of eight years of Jesuit education, had a moral obligation, a moral duty, to get him a job as a speechwriter in the Nixon White House. Over some resistance, we succeeded, and John was soon the oracle of the shop, known to younger speechwriters as, "The Rev."

When Watergate broke, Nixon's aide Dick Moore urged John to get out and use his speaking talents to defend the president. John was soon out on the front lawn of the White House preaching to large assemblies of writing press and TV cameras. Dick Moore told me, "Pat, I think we've created a monster." But John was a portrait in loyalty to the embattled president. When transcripts of the Oval Office tapes were released, containing the phrase, "expletive deleted," hundreds of times, and Dr. Billy Graham was publicly scandalized, John was unfazed. He stepped out on the White House lawn and immortalized himself by calling Richard Nixon, and I quote, "the greatest moral leader in the last third of this century." Now that is loyalty.

When President Ford came in, John, despite his resistance, was the first man out of the White House. To raise his profile, he asked me to contact William F. Buckley Jr., and get him on as a guest on "Firing Line." I wrote Buckley, and got back a letter that read in its entirety, "Dear Patrick: Intending no disrespect, who is the Rev. John J. McLaughlin, S. J.? Cordially, Bill." As it would have crushed John, I did not show him the letter, until he became famous. As he soon did.

John achieved a niche in the pantheon of television journalism when, in 1982, he launched "The McLaughlin Group." As one of the initial panelists, I was joined by Bob Novak of the perpetual scowl, known to colleagues as "The Prince of Darkness," Jack Germond and Mort Kondracke. Soon Eleanor Clift was aboard, and far from being discriminated against as a woman, she was treated every bit as badly as the rest of us.

Posted by at August 23, 2016 7:34 PM

  

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