'Soft' Buchanan draws the line at gay rights

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The Independent US

Diversity rules! That's the US political mantra this year. George W Bush did his best to portray his stuffed-shirt fellow Republicans as closet zoot-suiters, groovers and salsa swingers at his party convention; Al Gore has taken pride in picking the country's first Jewish vice-presidential candidate.

Diversity rules! That's the US political mantra this year. George W Bush did his best to portray his stuffed-shirt fellow Republicans as closet zoot-suiters, groovers and salsa swingers at his party convention; Al Gore has taken pride in picking the country's first Jewish vice-presidential candidate.

Now Pat Buchanan, darling of the extreme right, America First sloganeer and hotly disputed presidential candidate of a deeply divided Reform Party, has chosen a black woman as his running mate.

No doubt Mr Buchanan thought he could defuse the neo-Nazi slurs that dog him at every turn. But Ezola Foster is no Angela Davis: a deeply conservative teacher from Los Angeles who has campaigned with Mr Buchanan for years, she sees nothing wrong with flying the Confederate flag (interpreted by just about every other African-American as a symbol of slavery) and advocates abolishing the Department of Education.

Whether the announcement will do the floundering Mr Buchanan any good is open to question. Half the Reform Party accuses him of hijacking the party and intends to challenge his takeover in court. As for his half, the white supremacists and racists among them were wondering if Pat hadn't gone a little soft in the head.

Mr Buchanan might have made a gesture toward blacks and women, but his commitment to diversity most definitely stops with homosexuals, whom he described last week as the harbinger of "cultural decadence and moral decline from Rome to Weimar". His foot soldiers, meanwhile, have been handing out fliers at the party convention in Long Beach, California, denouncing the leaders of the anti-Buchanan rebellion as "fanatical, open homosexuals" who deserve to be dumped in the Pacific Ocean.

Supporters of the other Reform Party candidate, John Hagelin, accused Mr Buchanan of staging "his own beer-hall putsch" and moving illegally to crush all dissent.

"This isn't diversity, it's fascism," one New York delegate thundered.

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