"A Choice not an Echo" by Phyllis Schlafly, Regnery Publishing, wwwregnery.com Purchase through http:// w w w. e a g l e f o r u m . o r g / o r d e r / b o o k / index.html#AChoiceNotAnEcho. Price US$15 and US$5 postage. Reviewed by John Morrissey
For those of us who have followed US elections for decades, courtesy of Time Magazine, Newsweek and television news grabs, it will come as a shock to read Phyllis Schlafly's "A Choice not an Echo", her expose of Republican presidential nominations. It is more than a conspiracy theory, and sheds light on current concerns about world government, the United Nations and the ambitions of the climate change industry.
Phyllis Schlafly's survey falls into two parts. The first was published in 1964, and is credited with sparking a re vival of conservatism in the Republican Party which culminated in the election of Ronald Reagan. The second, added in 2014, takes us up to recent times, with her backgrounding of the 2016 Republican nomination making the likely success of Donald Trump seem far less bizarre than it is presented to us in the Australian media.
Her basic thesis is that on the Republican side the nomination of a presidential candidate has on most occasions been engineered by a cabal of North-East coast banker and publicist "kingmakers" in order to further their own ends, at the expense of the American people. These ends include the US taxpayer bankrolling overseas involvements where the cabal members have a financial interest, and trading off US military and commercial advantages to assist their international ambitions.
The most startling revelation for this reviewer is that these RINOs (Republicans in name only) have not been primarily concerned to win the subsequent election, as we see in their efforts to prevent the nomination of patriotic conservatives. To run dead with an unappealing candidate often suited them, as generally a Democrat New Dealer or the policies of the Kennedy-Johnson era dovetailed with their aims. For when candidates move to the centre they become indistinguishable from their Democrat opponents. Hence the title of this book, calling for a real choice for patriotic and conservative American voters.
In Phyllis Schlafly's analysis of every Republican nomination process from 1936 to 2012, villains and heroes abound - not to mention boondoggles and other forms of corruption. The villains include David and Nelson Rockefeller and such luminaries as Henry Kissinger and Dean Rusk. Her heroes are Robert Taft and Barry Goldwater, both cheated out of the nomination by smear campaigns, and of course Ronald Reagan. We should all be inspired by this man, who stated in his Inaugural Address: "Government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem."
The fall guys, as Americans call dupes, include Dwight Eisenhower, whom the author saw as politically naive and cynically manipulated by the "kingmakers". However, she regards both Presidents Bush as their willing tools. In Richard Nixon she sees some slim positives, but mainly in his earlier career before his presidence and Watergate disgrace.
The most entertaining description of a RINO campaign is that by which in 1940 they prevented Senator Robert Taft from gaining the nomination to challenge Franklin Delano Roosevelt's continued New Deal and foreign policy, including likely entry into the European war. An unknown and former registered Democrat, Wendell Wilkie, was chosen and manufactured into a popular candidate via a gigantic publicity spree crafted on Madison Ave. Time, Fortune, Saturday Evening Post and Life magazine all sprouted his photograph and printed opinion pieces proclaiming his many talents. On radio's Information Please he walloped the panel with his answers to legal questions on the US Constitution. Thus, being the only lawyer among them, he had apparently outsmarted all the intellectuals, and his performance was turned into a movie. Even so he still trailed on the eve of the convention, until a million telegrams bombarded delegates with threats and bribes to change their votes.
Of course Wilkie was soundly defeated in the presidential election, leaving FDR free to chart a path to war, as the author saw it.
Other extraordinary machinations are revealed in the second part of this work, including that by which Nelson Rockefeller schemed to become president through the back door. The Twenty-fifth Amendment was lobbied through Congress and state legislatures to empower the president to appoint a vice-president if a vacancy occurred. Thus when Spiro Agnew resigned amid accusations of tax evasion in 1973, Richard Nixon appointed the popular Gerald Ford, who then succeeded him after Watergate and appointed Rockefeller as vice-president.
Phyllis Schlafly's judgement on Ford is not too harsh, balancing "deficits at home and defeats abroad", when he followed Kissinger's and Rockefeller's advice, against standing up to them on price and wage controls and a federal bail-out for New York City. It is only in the contest for the nomination in 1980 where he is cast as villain, intent on scuttling the Reagan nomination.
Since the conservative Republican revival, one plank in the policy has remained as a sine qua non, that of being pro-life, as seen in the conventions from 1984 to 2012, and defeat of the program of the radical feminists, the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA). For the author, the Reagan years were golden ones for Americans, at home and abroad, highlighted by the fall of the Soviet Union, when the president stood up to communism.
When George H.W. Bush lost the presidency in 1992 to Bill Clinton, who had been incredibly whitewashed of his embarrassing Arkansas baggage, a campaign ensued to blame it on pro-lifers and those like Pat Buchanan who had spoken out on social and patriotic issues. In reality, it was the "kingmakers", who found Clinton more akin to their globalist policies. David Rockefeller Jr's op-ed in the New York Times was even titled "Why I Trust Clinton"!
Both Bush administrations were a disappointment to Phyllis Schlafly. Although backed by the business elite, George W. Bush had the nous to stand on the sanctity of life and easily wrapped up the nomination. However, once elected, he espoused a "compassionate conservatism" remoulding of the Republican Party. As well as costly adventurism abroad, he made a mockery of ending Big Government, meddling with education and health, persisting with Clinton's legacy of financial support for the IMF and the UN, and trading away American jobs in the interests of international corporations.
In 2004, prior to his re-election, the Bush machine virtually stole the platform from the state chairmen's control, but retained the pro-life plank and restraints on judicial activism. As the author interprets Bush's "New World Order" mantra, it meant a "switch from a foreign policy to protect the United States to the adoption of a massive US mission of ... establishing universal democracy", convinced that freedom is of absolute priority among the peoples of the world, ahead of civil order or even less altruistic motives, such as power and revenge.
At home conservatives were dismayed at the Security and Prosperity Partnership, aimed at integrating the three North American economies, with "full labor mobility to Mexico". For Phyllis Schlafly a betrayal on all fronts. Even more so than in the current US election campaign, the media in 2008 ignored the important issues: immigration, border security, treaties, trade and social issues.
The Democrats' choice of Barack Obama over Hillary Clinton was ordained by the pundits, while the Republicans lacked a clear choice, amid disenchantment after the previous two terms - ensuring a poor voter turn-out. The eventual John McCain nomination found little traction with voters, and the author sympathises with his running mate, Sarah Palin's, complaint that she "was not allowed to talk about things [important to grass-roots conservatives] because of those elitists" running the Republican campaign.
In 2012 the Establishment locked in Mitt Romney, the conservatives being divided, but had instructed candidates to avoid social and moral issues. Sub-groups such as the Reagan Democrats and Tea Parties were sidelined and grassroots candidates such as Ron Paul [who penned the Foreword to this edition], Ted Cruz and Mario Rubio were starved of oxygen. In the event, the Obama machine got out the vote, using sophisticated technology. There followed another term of Obamacare, attacks on marriage and the Constitution, efforts to expunge religion from every public place and event, and the building of an "Imperial Presidency".
In 2014, the next nominations were judged to be a foregone conclusion: "Brace yourself for Hillary and Jeb [Bush]", as the New York Times put it, continuing to tout the latter's intelligence and intellectual leanings.
Phyllis Schlafly is adamant that Americans want leaders to support a pro-American foreign policy and conservative domestic policies, especially the reduction of Big Government with resistance to Federal intrusions into education and health, and to defend the Creator-endowed rights to life and liberty. Although in 2014 her tone was mildly despairing, she offered some hope, evoking the spirit of the Reagan years and laying down the issues that must prevail in the platform.
Bringing supremacist judges under control.
Right to life.
Parents' rights in education.
Protection of American workers.
Immigration and border security.
It seemed a tall order at the time, but how the situation has changed! Phyllis Schlafly is, in effect, a patriot and unashamedly an isolationist, so her support for Donald Trump is quite consistent with much of what is espoused in this work. To many of us Trump seems bizarre, and she is currently under fire for her stance even in her own Eagle Forum organisation, but he ticks many of her boxes.
Trump is not a creature of the Establishment, and his appeal to the grassroots is shamelessly populist - and often clumsy, as we witnessed in his statements on abortion. Nevertheless, he stands for America First and he has the resources to defy the Republican Establishment. For Australians, a Trump presidency would be disconcerting, as we might no longer be able to rely on US military power in the Pacific region. Much as we admire Phyllis Schlafly and dread another Clinton presidency, we must be careful what we wish for.