PAT BUCHANAN is finally hip after all these years.
The man who is legendary for advising Richard Nixon, appearing on "Crossfire" and running for president, told me that never before has he evoked the level of interest in a matter of public policy.
I spent some time with him earlier this week after reading his new book, "State of Emergency," in which he pulls no punches in spelling out how the United States is being "invaded." So worried is Buchanan that he says children born in 2006 will experience the "death of the West." It's not just hyperbole, he's got lots of data to back up his concerns:
• There are at least as many illegal aliens now in the United States as all English, Irish, and Jewish immigrants who came to America in 400 years.
• Every month, the border patrol apprehends about 150,000 illegal aliens, more than the number of troops in Iraq.
• One in every 12 people breaking into the United States illegally has a criminal record.
• By 2050, the U.S. population of European descent will be a minority, as it is today in California, Texas, and New Mexico.
Buchanan argues that these trends make America more vulnerable than any threat we face from al Qaeda.
It's not just the magnitude of the invasion, it's the composition. Like the Cuban Mariel boatlift, Buchanan makes the case that we've become a dumping ground for the Third World.
Those coming here are disproportionately poor, uneducated and criminal. And the fact that they are emigrating from countries that have themselves never been fully assimilated into the First World, is what separates this group from our forefathers.
They are breaking in, not playing by the rules. Most important, many have no desire to be American. So why does it continue?
The status quo is enabled by multinational corporations anxious to topple sovereign borders, a Hispanic media that depends for its survival on the perpetuation of bilingualism and gutless politicians.
Political correctness is a major factor. Witness how many seek to dismiss Buchanan's analysis as the work of a white guy uncomfortable with the realization that his kind is losing its dominance and control. Or they try to label him a racist or xenophobe.
That kind of talk limits the debate. But Buchanan has heard it before. The elitists who try to cast him as a relic clinging to cultural oppression are no match for his arguments.
He's on a mission to foster a debate he knows he can win on the merits.
That'll happen if Republicans get some guts and stop deluding themselves into thinking they'll get Hispanic votes sooner or later. Democrats, after all, are a winner on this issue. They're already getting this bloc, and soon the political dynamics will be such that no candidate for president will be willing to go to California, Arizona or New Mexico and speak the truth about immigration, much in the same way that no one will go to Florida and question the Cuban embargo.
Thinking about all this, I'm reminded of a personal story. In 1926, Victoria Grovich came to Ellis Island with an infant in her arms to reconnect with her husband, who left her in Yugoslavia a year before so he could go to work in the Pennsylvania coal mines and establish a new home.
Today, she is my 100-year-old grandmother. One of her daughters met the son of Ilko Smirikowitz, who had come here from Austria-Poland in 1891. That union produced a talk-show host and columnist who in 2006 has had his eyes opened by Patrick J. Buchanan to the fact that the American dream has become a national nightmare.
"State of Emergency," indeed. It's time to close and defend our borders.
Follow Michael Smerconish on Twitter: www.twitter.com/@smerconish