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January 21, 2009

Pat B. and Me

http://www.jewishjournal.com/articles/item/pat_b_and_me_20090121

My chat with Pat has gotten far more feedback than any other interview I’ve done in my almost three years as co-host on The Adam Carolla Show.

Well, it was really more like Adam Carolla’s chat with Pat, and by Pat, I mean writer and political commentator Pat Buchanan, who was calling in to our syndicated morning radio show as part of his “Say Deliberately Odious Things to Sell Books” tour promoting his latest opus.

Since the interview, I’ve gotten many a verbal high-five for “taking on Pat Buchanan,” a guy who has been an adviser to Presidents Nixon, Ford and Reagan.

I was starting to feel pretty good about myself for a few reasons: I usually don’t chime in much during phone interviews; I’m sub-par at debating because I only think of things to say after marinating in a few hours of Google and regret; confrontation makes me clammy; and it’s not really my place to take over an interview. I’m a sidekick, and one who knows way more about “American Idol” than American foreign policy.

After looking at a transcript of the interview, I must admit, I did what I could and what was appropriate, but it wasn’t much. And frankly, some folks who called my editor at this newspaper also think I stank.

If I could have a fantasy do-over, it would be pretty sweet to hit Pat with some knowledge I didn’t have at the time, to have the last word, and to sound like a total smarty-pants. Here is the relevant part of the interview (edited only to remove non-germane tangents). I’ve added my fantasy retort at the end. So, let’s get in a time machine and stretch the space-time continuum like Pat stretches the truth.

Pat: Uh, what I would do in regard to Israel is separate America’s good name and reputation, uh, from the Israeli government and make our own, independent foreign policy. Uh, I would support Israel in its efforts to clean out Northern Gaza of those, uh, of the attack sites. Uh, but when, uh, Israel does what it did in Gaza now, which is a giant concentration camp, slaughtering 700 people and 3,000 injured and wounded, I think that’s disproportionate and it damages our reputation.

Teresa: I’m not sure what you mean when you say that Gaza is a concentration camp.

Pat: Well, the, it’s ... you can’t get in or get out. Uh, the Israelis control all the exits except for Rafah which the Egyptians do, so they’re all locked in there, a million and a half people, refugees from the land that Israel now occupies. And their food, their medicine, their electricity, uh, fuel, everything is controlled by the Israelis.

Teresa: I understand you can’t get in or out, but don’t you think concentration camp is kind of an incendiary way to put it?

Pat: I think 3,000 wounded and 700 dead is incendiary.

Teresa: I’m just saying to call ... to ... to compare it to a systematic extermination of Jews in Europe is not ...

Pat: I didn’t say an extermination camp. I said a concentration camp, like they had in the Boer War, those were the first ones the British put together where an awful lot of people died in them and, uh, of malnutrition and suffering, women and children. That’s what I mean.

That’s where the exchange ended. Pat threw in a “Boer War” reference, we shifted to other topics, Adam cut to commercial. And ever since then, I’ve fantasized about what I woulda, coulda, shoulda said, the closing zinger that would have left Pat speechless. At least for a nanosecond. So:

Teresa: Pat, the second Boer War ended in 1902, that was way back when Adolf was a cute name for a baby boy. If you don’t think that since World War II the term “concentration camp” has acquired new meaning, I guess we should accept that when people talk about swastikas, they are generally referring to the Indian symbol for good fortune and success.

I get it, this Nazi stuff is kind of like when Ann Coulter called those Sept. 11 widows self-obsessed harpies; it gets our goats. Because of my time machine, I know that in a few days you will also go on MSNBC and call the Israeli offensive in Gaza a “blitzkrieg.”

Look, it might be fun to just call you, say, a fascist nut job, but that would cheapen the debate and this is too important.

When I say, “Oh Muslim, oh servant of Allah, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him,” you think I’m quoting something hilarious from the movie “Borat.” No, I’m actually quoting right from Article Seven of the Hamas Charter. C’mon, you have to admit, that’s some scary stuff.

Peace is what people of conscience want, and stirring things up just to keep yourself relevant, well, it makes me miss the Old Pat, who was just insisting politicians in New York would “be held personally responsible for the spread of the AIDS plague” if they didn’t cancel the Gay Pride Parade. Where’s the Pat we used to know, who spent his word inches endorsing the shooting of urban looters and bemoaning multiculturalism as “an across-the-board assault on our Anglo-American heritage”?

Hope you had some time to reflect on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Oh, awkward, you opposed making King’s birthday a national holiday. Oops. Anyway, thanks for allowing me this long-winded fantasy retort, and mazel tov on the new book.


Teresa Strasser is the co-host of the Adam Carolla Show, syndicated mornings from 6-10 a.m. Special thanks to Wikipedia, Google and new BFF writer/producer Jeff Astrof.

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