Robert “Buzz” Patterson

Retired Air Force Lt. Col. Robert “Buzz” Patterson, who once carried the “nuclear football” for President Bill Clinton, speaks to the San Bernardino Republican Women Federated at the San Bernardino Elks Lodge on Friday, May 25. The “nuclear football” is a nickname for the briefcase that can authorize the used of a nuclear weapon.

Retired Air Force Lt. Col. Robert “Buzz” Patterson says he kept his opinions to himself while he served as senior military aide to President Bill Clinton from 1996 to 1998.

However, while addressing the San Bernardino Republican Women Federated last Friday, he was not shy about excoriating the Clintons and praising President Donald Trump.

Tom Palzer, who is running against Sen. Dianne Feinstein, joined Patterson in bashing the “liberal media.” For these two, Fox News leans too far left.

During Patterson’s time as aide-de-camp in the White House, where he had a bedroom and an office, he carried the Presidential Emergency Satchel, otherwise known as the “nuclear football” that contains instructions on how to launch an attack.

In 1995, while Patterson was commanding a squadron in Northern California, he got a call from the White House. He was one of six officers considered to accompany the first family at all times. He got the job.

“Every president going back to George Washington has had a military aide,” he said.

After the advent of nuclear weapons, the football – named after operation Dropkick, according to the Associated Press – was introduced under President Dwight Eisenhower’s administration. President John F. Kennedy ordered it to be by his side after the Cuban missile crisis in 1962.

“In the military, when you’re actively serving, you’re not allowed to voice your political opinions,” Patterson said. “You’re supposed to salute smartly, do your job and serve whoever is in charge, whatever party it might be.”

He had political opinions going into the Clinton administration.

“My two years with the Clintons certainly honed those and modified those and drove me well right of center.”

Patterson arrived at the White House in May 1996 as Bill Clinton’s re-election campaign was under way. He called the experience exhilarating and exciting but extremely troubling.

“In my opinion, the ‘deep state’ in Washington, D.C., began under the Clinton administration,” Patterson said. “I saw them hold themselves to a different standard of justice and character and morality than the rest of us are held to.”

He retired from the Air Force and summarized his experiences in “Dereliction of Duty,” a New York Times bestseller published in 2003.

“I saw the man who had been elected and was about to be re-elected as our commander in chief was fairly unequipped to be commander of anything, really,” Patterson said.

He recalled being at a golf tournament in 1996 while Iraqi President Saddam Hussein was using chemical weapons to “ethnically cleanse” tens of thousands of his own citizens, Kurds in northern Iraq.

All calls to the president had to go through Patterson. Squadrons were poised to repel the Republican Guard and National Security Adviser Sandy Berger was asking to initiate the attack.

“On three occasions, President Clinton refused the phone call,” Patterson said.  “He was simply too busy watching the golf tournament.”

As a result, 100,000 Kurds lost their lives that day, he said. The portrait on Patterson’s book shows Clinton with a golf tee in his mouth.

Another disturbing experience occurred while flying back to Washington on Air Force One. He put the president to bed and went to bed himself around midnight. He got a call from the pilot at 2 a.m. saying that a young flight attendant claimed to have been molested by Clinton on Air Force One.

“Having to walk down to the Oval Office and tell the commander in chief that he had to apologize to a young female staff sergeant for pushing her back into a galley and sexually molesting her was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do,” Patterson said.

Clinton apologized.

Patterson was there during the Monica Lewinsky years.

“I tell people I knew Monica, but not as well as Bill did,” he said.

A member of the club asked if Hillary was actually the president instead of Bill.

When Patterson arrived at the White House, the first thing Hillary Clinton tried to do was to stop military personnel from wearing uniforms. He won that argument with the backing of the Secret Service, which didn’t want him to be mistaken for an agent.

Patterson was first on Bill Clinton’s schedule on the morning the Monica Lewinsky story hit the press.

“From that moment on, Hillary became the co-president,” Patterson said. “She ran all the crisis-management meetings. She told him what to say, what not to say, what to wear and what not to wear.”

They made an arrangement that she would stick with him if he stuck with her when she ran for office.

“I never saw any intimacy between the two of them my entire time there,” Patterson said.

Hillary had more power in the White House than Bill, he said.

After leaving the Air Force, Patterson was a Delta Airlines pilot for 15 years. After hearing in 2016 that Hillary Clinton was running for president, he retired from Delta to spend his time on the speaker circuit and writing.

The Trump campaign reached out to Patterson in 2016. He has been speaking on behalf of Trump ever since and is a frequent guest on Fox News and on Sean Hannity’s radio show.

Patterson hosts a TV show on the “Your Voice America” website called “Power & Patriots.” The network recently signed a contract with America’s Voice Network to be on DirecTV, Dish and other providers. June 30 is the launch date.

On DirecTV, the network will be next to Fox on channel 361. Other hosts on the network include Dennis Miller and Greta van Susteren.

He praised the Trump administration for convincing North Korea to send three hostages home to America.

“I think people need to understand that North Korea and Iran are attached at the hip,” Patterson said. Some of the missile tests in North Korea have been funded by Iran, he said.

“If we don’t hold a firm position with North Korea and force them to denuclearize and disarm, Iran will be right on their heels with the same kind of potential,” he said, “which, of course, in that part of the world spells nothing but problems.”

Patterson lives in Thousand Oaks with his family.

Tom Palzer

Tom Palzer, a candidate for the U.S. Senate, addresses the San Bernardino Republican Women Federated at the San Bernardino Elks Lodge on Friday, May 25.

Topple the Top Two?

Rancho Cucamonga resident Tom Palzer is one of 33 candidates running for U.S. Senate on the June 5 ballot, including 10 Republicans. He argued that the Republican Central Committee should interview candidates and narrow the field to increase the GOP’s chances.

It is the second time he has challenged Sen. Dianne Feinstein, a Democrat who is seeking her fifth 6-year term. At 84, she’s already the oldest U.S. senator.

His primary focus is an initiative to repeal California’s top-two voting system, which says the top-two vote-getters in the primary qualify for general election regardless of party.

Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger endorsed Proposition 14 creating the system on the June 2010 ballot. Nearly 54 percent of California voters supported it.

Schwarzenegger was the last Republican elected to statewide office.

Palzer, statewide coordinator for the Foundation to Stop Top 2, said the goal of the top-two system was to elect more moderate representatives, but it hasn’t done that. In the three elections since the system was adopted, more liberal incumbents have kept their seats and more liberal candidates have won the plurality of races, he said.

The nonpartisan Public Policy of California found a slight increase in moderates, all Democrats, elected to the state Legislature, although it noted that the redistricting by an independent commission may have been a larger factor.

Palzer’s initiative failed to gather the 585,407 signatures needed to qualify for the November ballot.

An initiative proposed in December by Richard Charles Ginnaty, an accountant from Huntington Beach, would allow the top four candidates to move on to the general election. It needs to gather 585,407 signatures by August to qualify for the November ballot, according to the secretary of state. 

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