By Joseph Tsidulko
By Patrick Range McDonald
By David Futch
By Hillel Aron
By Dennis Romero
By Jill Stewart
By Dennis Romero
By Dennis Romero
“Do you agree with Ariel Sharon that we ought to take down Iran right after Iraq?” Buchanan demands.
“I think we should take down Iran before Iraq,” Ledeen counters. “I don‘t understand why people think that the Iranian people are less worthy of support to be free than were the Filipinos or the Yugoslavs or the Hungarians or the Poles. I just don’t get it.”
Ledeen is a very smooth character. Give him a cell phone and a credit card and he looks like he‘d be at home anywhere.
“You’re very candid, Michael, I‘ll give you that,” Buchanan says after the interview is over and they’ve cut to a commercial.
“Well, I‘m a revolutionary, you know. I’ve never changed,” Ledeen responds. As he‘s leaving, P he mentions that he’ll be in Rome all next week.
“Never been to Rome,” Buchanan replies chirpily, as if even the most fleeting visit to foreign soil might be faintly traitorous.
Taki has been to Rome. In fact, the 66-year-old heir to a Greek shipping fortune, who owns homes in Manhattan, London and Gstaad (not to mention a yacht), has been just about everywhere, and that‘s only one reason why commentators wonder what he and the mildly xenophobic Buchanan are doing publishing a magazine together. This October, Taki celebrated 25 years as the “High Life” columnist for the London Spectator, a conservative weekly prized for its eccentricity. He has also written for Vanity Fair, the New York Post, the London Sunday Times, Esquire and many other publications. P.J. O’Rourke has called him “the meanest, funniest Greek since Aristophanes -- plus he‘s not dead and you can spell his name.” Bill Kristol, on the other hand, has called him “repulsive.”
But the main reason why media watchers did a double take over the partnership is Taki’s long history as a womanizer -- hardly something of which the uxorious Buchanan would approve. In his Spectator column, Taki refers to his wife, Princess Alexandra Schoenberg of Austria, as “the mother of my children” while recounting escapades with aristocratic beauties less than half his age. Then there‘s the matter of that jail sentence. One fine summer day in 1984, Taki had just been waved through customs at London’s Heathrow Airport when the customs officer called out after him to say that an envelope was about to fall out of his back pocket. “Oh, thank you,” Taki replied. “If only you knew what was in it!” The officer took the bait. Inside the envelope were 23 grams of cocaine, purchased the previous night for $1,800 at Studio 54. Not really being a druggie -- he‘s a self-confessed “boozer” -- Taki had forgotten all about it. In fact, he hadn’t even touched it. In court, he pleaded guilty and served his sentence among drug dealers, murderers and thieves.
I meet “the poor little Greek boy” (as Taki likes to refer to himself) at his townhouse on Manhattan‘s Upper East Side. As expected -- he’s a former Olympian who has represented his native country in skiing, tennis and karate -- he is trim, tan, and impeccably turned out in a blue blazer (buttoned), a striped shirt and tie, beige trousers and tasseled loafers. “I am Taki Theodoracopulos,” he says in a voice that combines weariness, vitality and irritation in equal measure.
So why has Taki chosen to ally himself with churchgoing Pat Buchanan? What made him decide not just to write for The American Conservative, but to back it financially to the tune of an estimated $5 million? The reason, he tells me, is that he and his fellow conservatives were being excluded from the mainstream media.
“We were shut out, starting with myself, because of my strong opinions about the Palestinians, and multiculturalism, and political correctness. People were starting to get awfully nervous. Pat Buchanan, ditto. And Scott McConnell [TAC‘s executive editor], because, as editorial director of the New York Post, he wrote an editorial stating that Puerto Rico would be better off staying the way it is rather than become a state that would have to pay taxes, and he got fired just for that! By his best friend, too -- Eric Breindel. So basically we got together as people who were out of the loop, because of our politics or because of the way we think.”
Given the way Taki thinks -- or writes, anyway -- it’s no surprise that he hasn‘t been invited on Nightline lately or asked to contribute to The New York Times op-ed page. A 1997 Spectator piece he wrote denouncing New York’s notoriously rowdy Puerto Rican Day parade so enraged then-Mayor Giuliani that Hizzoner (unaware the writer was an American citizen) tried to have Taki deported. “There has never been -- nor will there ever be -- a single positive contribution by a Puerto Rican outside of receiving American welfare and beating the system,” Taki wrote. “Why in hell should the taxpayer carry the load for a bunch of semi-savages to march down Fifth Avenue?”
Understatement isn‘t Taki’s style. Mocking Hollywood liberals for turning into conservative property-rights advocates when some kids accidentally crossed the line onto David Geffen‘s beach, he wrote: “This sand is my sand, according to the rich, lefty pricks, and to hell with children when it comes to my privacy.” A typical Taki commentary will contain sentences such as “May the fleas of a thousand camels infest his armpits” and “It is a truth universally acknowledged that the Belgian foreign minister, Louis Michel, was born of the union between a cockroach and a cow.” Perhaps all you need to know about Taki is that he was the favorite columnist of both Jesse Helms -- no surprise there -- and Joseph Heller, the leftist author of one of the funniest books of the 20th century, Catch-22. That Heller was a fan is something Taki learned only recently, when he met the novelist’s widow at a party. When he asked why Heller had liked him so much, he was told: “Because you hate everybody! You hate the modern world!”