If you get caught defending Adolph Hitler one time, you could, I suppose, claim it was an accident; a momentary lapse of reason.
If you get caught defending Hitler two times ... Well, I guess you could say it was just be an unfortunate coincidence.
But if you defend Hitler as often as Pat Buchanan has, that isn't an accident, and it isn't a coincidence: it's a pattern. And it's pretty hard to avoid the conclusion that you just don't think Hitler was all that bad.
Over at Daily Kos, Markos catches Buchanan marking the 70th anniversary of Britain declaring war on Nazi Germany by arguing that Hitler has gotten a bum rap -- he didn't really want war.
As crazy as it seems, this actually isn't a new line of argument for Buchanan. He has long held that World War II was not "worth it," that Hitler needn't have been deposed, and that the Holocaust was Churchill's fault, not Hitler's. I catalogued those and other monstrous Buchanan claims in a column back in June:
Buchanan has called Adolf Hitler an "individual of great courage." He also questioned whether World War II was "worth it" and wondered, "[W]hy destroy Hitler?" That wasn't 40 years ago; that was just four years ago. Just last year, he wrote that the Holocaust happened not because of Hitler, but because of Churchill.
That actually may demonstrate a hint of progress for Buchanan: At least he acknowledged the Holocaust did happen. In the past, he has peddled bizarre Holocaust denial claims, and as recently as two months ago, compared suspected Nazi war criminal John Demjanjuk to Jesus Christ.
Defending an accused Nazi war criminal is one thing. Relying on the discredited arguments of Holocaust deniers in order to do so is quite another. And that's exactly what Buchanan has done.
In a 1990 column defending Demjanjuk, Buchanan wrote: "Reportedly, half of the 20,000 survivor testimonies in Yad Vashem memorial in Jerusalem are considered 'unreliable' " because of "Holocaust Survivor Syndrome," which involves "group fantasies of martyrdom and heroics." Buchanan didn't say who "reported" this claim, which would fit in nicely in the most extreme Holocaust denial literature. Nor did he identify a source for his claim that Jews could not have been killed at Treblinka because "[d]iesel engines do not emit enough carbon monoxide to kill anybody," a claim he purported to prove by noting that, in 1988, "97 kids, trapped 400 feet underground in a Washington, DC tunnel while two locomotives spewed diesel exhaust into the car, emerged unharmed after 45 minutes." Buchanan later refused to tell journalist Jacob Weisberg where he got that anecdote, saying only, "Somebody sent it to me." Evidence strongly suggests the claim came from a Holocaust denial newsletter. Regardless of where Buchanan got his theories about diesel engines, the mass graves at Treblinka are rather more persuasive.
Buchanan's bizarre comments about Nazis and the Holocaust kicked into high gear during his time as a columnist, but his questionable approach to the subject began earlier. As an aide to President Reagan, Buchanan successfully urged his boss to visit Germany's Bitburg cemetery, where Nazi troops are buried. Buchanan was reportedly responsible for Reagan's statement that the SS troops buried there were "victims just as surely as the victims in the concentration camps."
And that's just the stuff about Nazis. There's much more, including Buchanan's defense of segregation.