Archive for April 19th, 2005

Bob the Tackle

I have pointed out that when I was playing high school football, the coach would often shout, “Feel around you, Whitaker, maybe you’re still in bed!”

So the obvious question is, why would the coach let a dunderhead like that play in the game in the first place? In my case, the reason is because I was strong as an ox, if not any brighter.

But my point has to do, not with the tackle, a linesman, like I was, but with the backfield. They are the guys who run for the touchdown. Those in the backfield got the glory when they were running with the ball.

As a result, a coach had a real problem when those backfield heroes were running a fake. In a fake, the quarterback acts as if he has handed the ball off to one ball carrier and then actually hands it to another. The idea is, of course, that while the other team is tackling the guy who doesn’t have the ball, the one who does get the ball goes through for a touchdown and gets the glory.

So the guy who did NOT get the ball is critical. He is the whole point of the fake. For the fake to work he must be a damn good actor and not get the credit with the crowd.

If you are in the line blocking, you are used to not getting roars of approval from the crowd. Not so the backfield. So when a fake is played in high school it is almost impossible for the guy who does NOT get the ball to convince anybody he has it. He just runs it out like he does in practice, and everybody on both teams has been in practice a lot so they know he hasn’t got the ball.

In other words, you are asking the backfielder who does NOT get the ball to run interference while the guy who DOES get the ball runs for the touchdown and gets the glory. The crowd is not going to notice that HE is the one who caused the touchdown any more than they will see the blocker who opened the hole the touchdown runner went through.

In fact, the only person who notices a crucial block or a great fake is the professional scout. Many a wildly cheered backfielder has never understood why the scouts never noticed him. The reason is because that scout is there to find people who will win the game for his team.

To put it simply, the scout is not there just to see who RUNS the touchdowns. He is there to see who CAUSES the touchdowns.

I’ll give you an example from my political career. For years most Republicans were trying to get the black vote. Others could do arithmetic.

Those who could count noticed that the combined conservative Wallace vote and the Nixon vote in 1968 amounted to 57%, a landslide against the left. But in 1972 the Republicans sang the praises of the Magic Political Center, where they could pick up the precious black vote.

Only an evil racist would try to get The Wallace Democrats.

At long, long last, after the disaster of 1974, even many respectable conservatives were coming to the conclusion that they needed those evil Wallace Democrats. William Rusher, publisher of National Review, had been one of the most fanatical opponents of going after those evil Wallace Democrats. In 1974 he had an epiphany. He is one of those few people who can learn from a mistake and declare in public that he had made it.

By the way, this was when Pat Buchanan and Joe Sobran demanded open borders for Mexican immigrants.

So in 1975 William Rusher wrote a book demanding a coalition of Wallace Democrats and conservative Republicans. That was when he met with me. I had a long, long record as a Wallace Democrat vote-getter. In the 1970s I had been in the streets with anti-busing groups and anti-textbook groups. In 1968 I had lived in a campaign headquarters in the steelworker district of Chicago getting the Wallace vote for my conservative Republican candidate. Long before that I had worked the textile worker vote in South Carolina to get them for Goldwater.

And on back, ad infinitum.

I had always gone where no Republican had gone before.

At that point, Rusher’s problem was that he represented an extreme point of view in the conservative establishment. He needed somebody who was reasonably well known where it counted to put him in the mainstream. He needed interference.

I wrote a book that put him back in the middle of the Republican Party. It was called “A Plague on Both Your Houses.”

I even demanded the preservation of the white race in “A Plague on Both Your Houses.”

Rusher did the Foreword to that book, in which he specifically excluded himself from my nasty comments about William Buckley.

I also made remarks in that book about how Reagan was pussyfooting on issues “Wallace voters” were concerned about. I know for a fact those remarks had a HUGE effect on Republican strategy because I knew so many people in the Reagan Administration. I became a Reagan appointee.

When my book came out Rusher’s heresy was forgotten. National Review had a cover article attacking my book.

But then Jeffrey Hart wrote the National Review review of that same book called “Read This One.”

In the meantime nobody noticed how my book made Rusher mainline.

If Whitaker had been trying to make points for Whitaker, the coach would have said, “Feel around you, Whitaker, maybe you’re still in bed.” I became the extremist.

But I was not making points for Bob. I was making points for the team, and Bill Rusher has never forgotten that. Everybody else has, because they are the crowd, not professional scouts.

Conservatives are not pros.

But being for the team is not enough. Rusher needed somebody who was good at what he did.

A scout does not notice how hard you try to work for the team unless you are also a damned good tackle. I am a damned good writer. Publisher’s Weekly and Kirkus gave it rave reviews and the Library Journal recommended it for purchase.

It was a damned good book.

Publisher’s Weekly and Kirkus and the Library Journal all distanced themselves from the opinions I expressed, exactly the way Rusher did. What they said was that it was a genuine, well-written point of view which barely avoided all the third rails of political rhetoric.

Nobody else could have conceived it, much less written it.

So Rusher and Hart became a non-radical point of view. In 1980 the term “Wallace Democrats” was totally forgotten. They became the mainline Reagan Democrats. Reagan ran the touchdown and the Soviet Union was history when he finished.

Could it have happened without me running interference? I doubt it. But others would say I had nothing to do with the final outcome.

Who cares? Our team won, and that was what I was in the game for.

Recently I was walking alone across the bridge over the Moscow River, right in front of the Kremlin. I stopped, turned, and gravely gave that symbol of Soviet tyranny the finger.

It felt good.