Skip to comments.Romney as Nixon? 2012 Carries Unsettling Echoes for GOP
Posted on 12/21/2011 7:40:12 PM PST by neverdem
Throughout this seemingly endless election season, analysts have thrown out a variety of historical analogies to help explain the current race. Some have suggested that this election is like 1948's (the one postwar example we have of a president winning re-election amid a sluggish economy), while others have looked to 1980, where a strong conservative defied the oddsmakers' bets and defeated an incumbent the country perceived as hyper-liberal.
One year that has received scant attention is 1968. Michael Barone recently suggested this parallel -- in the context of the Occupy Wall Street protests -- during a panel discussion we both participated in. The OWS protests have since died down, and werent widespread enough to engender the same type of silent majority backlash that the counterculture protests of the late 60s did. But I do think there are a few parallels between 1968 and today, which evoke Ghosts of Elections Past, Present and Future.
The first parallel between the two elections is the presence of a GOP front-runner who has no clear political compass. Like Mitt Romney today, no one really knew what to make of Richard Nixon in 1968. In the 1940s and early 1950s he was known for his hard-charging anti-communism. Dwight Eisenhower had added Nixon to the Republican ticket in 1952 in large part for precisely this reason: to help placate the more conservative wing of the Republican Party, which was furious with Eisenhower for defeating their favored candidate, Robert Taft.
By 1960, Nixon had shifted toward the moderate, establishment Tom Dewey wing of the GOP. It reached a point where we can aptly describe the 1960 election as a sort of Seinfeld election: It was an election about nothing. Nixon and Kennedy agreed on most issues, and Kennedy was actually to the right of Nixon...
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I saw 2 minutes of the ET/Greek “experience”. The History Channel jumped the shark. They make South Park look like a docudrama.
If you think of the damage the Kennedy Crime Family did to this country, and ostensibly, the world, it makes the Civil War look like a tiff over tea time by comparison.
So, when I use a horrific term like “Einsatzgruppen”; think how much better the world would be if it there were no Kennedys ever in power.
Plus, it’s fitting since the old man was an antiSemitic Nazi sympathizer. Funny, how we NEVER hear much about that though, huh?
Oh right, he was a Rat.
I sincerely hope the freepers who continually lick JFK's boot straps and repeat this myth on every JFK thread don't actually believe it. If you confront many of them over Kennedy's ACTUAL beliefs/policies they'll begrungedly admit he was a loyal FDR new deal liberal but then start yapping about how we have to PRETEND he was conservative on internet forums because it will "show today's Dems their party has left them.." blah blah blah.
Personally I think our side converts as many Dems by quoting Kennedy's "conservative" beliefs as their side does by quoting Eisenhower and saying "even REPUBLICAN Eisenhower warned about the millitary-industrial complex..." I haven't met person yet that said "OMG! I WAS a Republican until I realized TODAY'S REPUBLICANS are puppets of the military-industrial complex than Eisenhower warned about!" History revisionism on both sides is beyond ridiculous. Ike would not have hung out at ANSWER rallies with Cindy Sheehan and Kennedy would not have joined the GOP and been a Reaganite.
If any freeper would have voted for "conservative" JFK over Nixon in 1960, shame on you. That election was EXTREMELY close and it's sickening to think that some people who call themselves conservative would have joined Daley's criminal RAT machine in Chicago and illegal aliens in Texas to put JFK over the top on the electoral map. Nixon was certainly not a reliable right-winger (personally I think Newt is the closest to him ideologically... liberals think both are Darth Vader even though they routinely stab conservatives in the back to show what "intellectuals" they are). However, Nixon was still 10x more conservative than Kennedy. If you want to know why this country is now flooded with third world immigrants that we would have never dreamed of in Eisenhower's time, look no further than JFK. The 1965 Immigration Act was written by his brother Ted after JFK had made such legislation ending "unfair" immigration quotas a centerpiece of his "new frontier" administration. Virtually all of Johnson's policies were just continuations and beefed up versions of Kennedy proposals -- in fact, that's one of the reasons he was so successful in getting them through Congress. LBJ would invoke the dead President's memory, cite Kennedy's support his liberal programs, and say we had to pass so-and-so socialist scam as a "tribute" to him. The 1960s caused enormous damage to this country and it would have never happened if Kennedy/Johnson hasn't gotten in power in the first place.
I applaud you!
That's what Phyllis Schlafly said: Nixon capitulated to Rockefeller's wing of the party. It's probably too dramatic. Nixon wasn't so very different from every candidate who moves to the center in the general election. He was running on Eisenhower's record and Eisenhower wasn't a hardliner or ideologue. When you look at where the country was psychologically and what the issues were, that was the obvious and logical strategy.
It reached a point where we can aptly describe the 1960 election as a sort of Seinfeld election: It was an election about nothing.
We've had elections like that in the past. It was a sign of consensus in the country, not necessarily a bad thing. That general harmony and agreement couldn't last. Things were bound to change and politics would inevitably polarize, but compared to what we've been going through lately, that Eisenhower-Kennedy era comity doesn't look so awful.
Nixon and Kennedy agreed on most issues, and Kennedy was actually to the right of Nixon.
Nixon positioned himself to the right of Nixon on missile defense by complaining about a missile gap that didn't exist. And changes in the political landscape made his tax cut policies look conservative, though that shouldn't be taken at face value. But Kennedy was more likely to move left in office than Nixon was because of who Kennedy's advisors were and what Nixon's experience with liberals was.
The problem with this "Romney as Nixon" argument is that it doesn't just apply to Romney alone. Something very similar happened with the Bushes. Something very similar would have happened with Dole or McCain. Something very similar would happen with Gingrich or Perry. Pretty much every president turns out to be a disappointment to the hardliners.
FWIW, I was thinking about Nixon lately, but in terms of Newt Gingrich's campaign. As with Nixon, people are wondering whether there really was a "new Newt," hoping that there is and fearing that there isn't. As with Nixon, there's a limit to how much people can change, especially if their past ways have brought them some success.