May 23, 2008

A SPECTRE IS HAUNTING THE DERANGED LEFT:

Nixonland, Then and Now (Jon Wiener, 05/18/2008, The Nation)

"Nixonland" – that's Rick Perlstein's term for the political world where candidates win power by mobilizing people's resentments, anxieties and anger, where politics destroys is victims. Perlstein's new book is Nixonland: The Rise of a President and the Fracturing of America.

Do we still live in Nixonland?

Yes we do. I don't mean that the political anxieties and passions today are as great as they were in the late sixties. But the way Richard Nixon used the sixties to define the ideological contours of American politics is still with us. On right wing radio today, they keep talking about how snobby and elitist the liberals are -- just like Richard Nixon did.


Bad enough to spend as much time immersed in history as Friend Perlstein has without learning any of it--Richard Hofstadter was writing about mainstream America's endemic hatred of liberal intellectualism while Nixon was a footnote, or see Edward Larson's excellent, Summer of the Gods, about the Scopes trial, which even The Nation may not blame Nixon for--but it's even worse to pay no attention to current events. After all, right-wing radio is joined in its talk of the elitist Left by the born-again populist Clinton's, New Republic, etc., who couldn't help but notice that in liberal-activist-dominated caucuses Senator Obama dominates while Ms Clinton wins when the unwashed masses get to vote. Heck, if he still doesn't get that liberals are snobby and elitist he could just look at the title of his friend Thomas Frank's book, What';s the Matter with Kansas, with its condescending assumption that if you don't agree with the Brights there's something wrong with you.

Of course, if these guys are right, and Nixon really does bestride modernity like a colossus, we can't rule out the possibility that he's clouding their minds.....


MORE (from the Archives):
E Pluribus Nixon: A sweeping new social history portrays Richard Nixon as the president his fratricidal country deserved—and perhaps the best we could have hoped for: a review of NIXONLAND: The Rise of a President and the Fracturing of America By Rick Perlstein (Ross Douthat, Atlantic Monthly)

Seven years ago, Rick Perlstein, a young and decidedly left-wing historian, accomplished a daring feat: he imagined his way into the hearts and minds of the right-wing idealists who made Goldwaterite conservatism one of the most successful mass movements of the 1960s. The result was Before the Storm: Barry Goldwater and the Unmaking of the American Consensus (Out-of-print, available at E-bay), a richly detailed narrative of the 1964 election, and a dense and dizzying account of a moment when America was teetering on the verge of a nervous breakdown but didn’t know it yet.

Now Perlstein has produced a sequel. If Before the Storm was a near-masterpiece, Nixonland: The Rise of a President and the Fracturing of America, which covers the turbulent years from Goldwater’s defeat to Nixon’s 1972 landslide victory, is merely a great success. It labors under handicaps his first book didn’t have: whereas Before the Storm dealt with a circumscribed and neglected moment (who remembers Dr. Fred Schwarz’s Christian Anti-Communism Crusade, or the presidential boomlet for William Warren Scranton?), Nixonland tackles the most obsessed-over era in recent American history. Any book that rolls Woodstock and Watergate, the death of RFK and the Tet Offensive, Jane Fonda and George Wallace, and a cast of thousands more into a mere 800 pages or so is bound to sprawl and sag a bit, to rush too quickly through some topics and linger too long with others.

Even so, Nixonland reads marvelously. Perlstein has the rare gift of being able to weave social, political, and cultural history into a single seamless narrative, linking backroom political negotiations to suburban protests over sex education in schools to the premiere of Bonnie and Clyde. [...]

Nixonland is a historical narrative worth savoring—but one worth ar­guing with as well. Perlstein sets out to challenge what he terms “certain hegemonic narratives” of the ’60s. But, perhaps inevitably, he tends to be tougher on right-wing shibboleths—the notion that all of the era’s violence was left-wing; the idea that the media snatched away victory in Vietnam—than on liberal ones. Nixonland offers a vastly more nuanced account of how the New Deal coalition came apart than the predictable left-liberal story of noble Democrats undone by ruthless, race-baiting Republicans. (I’m looking at you, Paul Krugman.) But while Perlstein criticizes the liberal establishment for its self-satisfaction and naïveté—for believing that “if only Nixon’s people could truly see reason … their prejudices would melt away, their true interests would be recognized”—he still leaves the impression that when it came to public policy, mid-century liberalism almost always did have reason on its side. [...]

[P]erlstein is unsparing in his critique of the political failures of mid-century liberalism; I only wish he had meditated more deeply on liberalism’s policy failures as well, and at least grappled with the possibility that voters rejected liberal governance for pragmatic reasons as well as atavistic ones. But to do so might have required him to give Nixon’s Republican Party—if not Nixon himself—more credit for restoring domestic tranquillity than I imagine he thinks the GOP deserves. Indeed, a minor theme of Perlstein’s book is the extent to which domestic tranquillity has never been restored; Americans, he argues, inhabit “Nixonland” even now.

This argument is one of Perlstein’s weakest—and it’s undercut, time and again, by his own skill as a historian and a writer. The chaotic tapestry he summons up—“hard hats” slugging hippies on the steps of Federal Hall on Wall Street, radical priests hatching bomb plots in the steam tunnels under Washington, D.C., riots consuming city after city, and national leaders going down under assassins’ bullets—is fascinating precisely because it feels so alien to our present political climate. Indeed, the age of Bush, supposedly unrivaled in its rancor, seems like a peaceable kingdom when contrasted with the madhouse in which Richard Nixon rose to power. We have a culture war; they had a war.

It’s true that the political and cultural divides that opened in the Nixon era are with us even now. But Perlstein wants to make a larger claim than this; he wants to suggest that the violent spirit of that time has endured till now as well.


I'm only in the early stages of reading Friend Perlstein's book but am struck by a potentially fatal flaw in his thesis that's implied in the review above. With his expected honesty, Mr. Perlstein initially identifies Nixonland as the sort of Red America that the Adlai Stevenson eggheads found themselves stuck in ad unable to comprehend in the 50s. That this part of the metaphor endures--is indeed a seemingly innate part of the culture--is reflected not just in his own essays about contemporary politics but in books by his friends and fellow Brights, like Thomas Frank's unintentionally hilarious, What's the Matter with Kansas.

On the other hand, the sort of violent divisiveness that he associates with Nixonland rather conspicuously developed at the exact time that Richard Nixon was not a central part of the national political scene. Inner-city riots, assassinations, student demonstrations, radical Left terrorism--all of these social plagues arose during the Johnson/Great Society years, the pinnacle of the Left's ascendancy. Even the initial violent reactions were led by Democrats--like LBJ sending federal troops into Detroit or Mayor Daley breaking up protests at the 1968 Democratic Convention. If anything, as Mr. Douthat suggests above, the return of Richard Nixon --a liberal Republican--in 1968 might be seen as an attempt by American voters to restore the social calm and consensus of earlier eras. Richard Nixon, at least in his final incarnation, should probably be considered an effect of the social breakdown of the Liberal 60s, rather than a cause of anything much.

Of course, this perspective does tend to undermine the thesis that the consensus was never retrieved, but consider too that Nixon was followed by a Democrat who ran to the Right of where he and Gerald Ford had governed. The only other Democrat elected president since 1964 was likewise an Evangelical Southern governor. And, while Carter and Clinton only won very narrowly, several Republicans since have run up pretty big margins. The problem would seem to be a reluctance on the part of Mr. Perlstein and company to accept that the consensus has been restored but has shifted back to where it was pre-Depression, fairly far to the Right side of moderate. Thus, even when Democrats won back Congress in the 2006 midterm they've ended up governing little differently than Newt Gingrich and Tom DeLay did.

It is instructive also to look at where the most divisive point in our politics is today: the racial/tribal divide between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. This is an entirely predictable function of the identity politics that still characterizes much of the Left, although Mr. Obama tried desperately to run as a cipher, lest voters discover his pastor and his politics and, inevitably, reject him as just another Northern liberal too far out of the mainstream to elect president.

At any rate, the book's a rollicking good read and we'll post a full review ASAP.

MORE:
-ARCHIVES: Perlstein (Brothers Judd Blog)
-AUTHOR SITE: RickPerlstein.org
-FACEBOOK GROUP: Nixonland
-EXCERPT: Preface to Nixonland
-EXCERPT: from Nixonland: "Then No One Would Be a Democrat Anymore": In 1970, Richard Nixon, inspired by a spontaneous construction workers' riot, settled on the political strategy that would win him the 1972 election by a landslide and dominate American politics to this day (Rick Perlstein)
-EXCERPT: from Nixonland: AN UNPOPULAR WAR, AN ECONOMY IN THE DUMPS, A PRESIDENT WITH LOW APPROVAL RATINGS, HIS OPPONENT REVITALIZING HIS BASE: HOW DID THE DEMOCRATS LOSE IN 1972, AND BY A HISTORIC MARGIN? (Rick Perlstein)
-PROFILE: Sympathy for the Devil: Progressive scribe Rick Perlstein made his reputation finding the good in conservatives. Then they really started screwing up the country. (Harold Henderson, January 24, 2008, Chicago Reader)
-BOOKNOTES: Before the Storm: Barry Goldwater and the Unmaking of the American Consensus by Rick Perlstein (C-SPAN< June 3, 2001)
-DEBATE: Rick Perlstein and David Frum (BloggingHeads.tv, 4/18/08)
-ESSAY: All Aboard the McCain Express (Rick Perlstein, April 21, 2008, The Nation)
-ESSAY: Getting Past the '60s? It's Not Going to Happen. (Rick Perlstein, February 3, 2008, Washington Post)
-REVIEW ESSAY: The Myths of McGovern: Thirty-five years later, what the 1972 campaign can—and can’t—teach liberals today: a review of Why the Democrats Are Blue: How Secular Liberals Hijacked the People's Party By Mark Stricherz and The Liberals' Moment: The McGovern Insurgency and the Identity Crisis of the Democratic Party By Bruce Miroff (Rick Perlstein, Democracy)
-ESSAY: Not in his father's footsteps (Rick Perlstein, February 10, 2008, LA Times)
-ESSAY: Smirk of the Union: A small and beaten man spoke to Congress and the nation last night, convinced in his own mind he's a hero (Rick Perlstein, 1/29/08, TomPaine.com)
-ESSAY: Chinese Mirrors (Rick Perlstein, June 7, 2007, The Nation)
-ESSAY: Whos Afraid of Peter Boyle? (Rick Perlstein, 2/08/07, In These Times)
-ESSAY: The Best Wars of Their Lives (Rick Perlstein, October 15, 2007, The Nation)
-ESSAY: Will the Progressive Majority Emerge? (Rick Perlstein, July 9, 2007, The Nation)
-ESSAY: Why Democrats can stop the war: Pundits say if the party gets too tough with Bush, it will be blamed for "losing" Iraq. But the real political risk is going too easy on Bush, and losing the trust of war-weary voters. (Rick Perlstein, 1/24/07, Salon)
-ESSAY: Heck-of -a-Job Myers? (Rick Perlstein, January 3, 2007, The Nation)
-ESSAY: Fenced Out: A post–9/11 boom in immigration legislation hasn’t stemmed the border flow, but it has created a flood of new approaches—most with built-in paradoxes. (Rick Perlstein, Jan/Feb 2007, University of Chicago Magazine)
-ESSAY: Look Back in Anger: The Democrats won, but they shouldn't for a second let victory cause them to forget the Republicans' dirty tricks operation (Rick Perlstein, November 10, 2006, American Prospect)
-ESSAY: The Odd Couple: Nixon and Lieberman: Nixon and Lieberman both supported pro-war policies while claiming to be anti-war. (Rick Perlstein, 11/03/06, In These Times)
-ESSAY: Unf***ing the Donkey: Advice for weary, wandering Democrats (Rick Perlstein. July 26th, 2005, Village Voice)
-ESSAY: A Socialist in the Age of Triangulation (Rick Perlstein, 7/06/05, In These Times)
-ESSAY: Party Cannibals (Rick Perlstein, February 7, 2005, The Nation)
-ESSAY: Inauguration 2005: The Eve of Destruction ...:
Four more years to remake the world in his image. (Too bad for us, he already started.). (Rick Perlstein. January 11th, 2005, Village Voice)
-ESSAY: The Case of the Ohio Recount: In the whodunit over who won it, the true villain is slipping away. (Rick Perlstein, December 14th, 2004, Village Voice)
-ESSAY: Conviction Politics: One Democratic hero emerged from November 2. His fellow Democrats should study up on why. (Rick Perlstein, November 21, 2004, American Prospect)
-ESSAY: Cast Away: It's the Wealth, Stupid: Right-wing class warfare swung the 2004 election (Rick Perlstein, November 2nd, 2004, Village Voice)
-ESSAY: It's Mourning in America: The Ohio debacle and the death of our civic life (Rick Perlstein, October 26th, 2004, Village Voice)
-ESSAY: The Reagan legacy: He was a true believer who moved the country divisively to the right. But compared to the current president, Ronald Reagan looks like a moderate (Rick Perlstein, 6/07/04, Salon)
-ESSAY: The Jesus Landing Pad: Bush White House checked with rapture Christians before latest Israel move (Rick Perlstein, May 11th, 2004, Village Voice)
-ESSAY: Tribal Warfare in America: A 30-year-old book by a progressive journalist finds that the passions of reformers can sometimes betray a contempt for the common sense of ordinary people. Sound familiar? (Rick Perlstein, November 16, 2004, Columbia Journalism Review)
-ESSAY: Sucking Democracy Dry: The End of Democracy: Losing America's birthright, the George Bush way (Rick Perlstein, October 12th, 2004, Village Voice)
-ESSAY: Passionate Conservatism: Karl Rove's Republicans swerve right on the way to the middle (Rick Perlstein, August 31st, 2004, Village Voice)
-ESSAY: Get Mad. Act Out. Re-Elect George Bush: Protesters risk playing into GOP hands. (Rick Perlstein, August 17th, 2004, Village Voice)
-ESSAY: The End of Republican Rule: Righteous populism holds the key to vanquishing Bush forever. (Rick Perlstein. July 27th, 2004, Village Voice)
-ESSAY: The Church of Bush: What liberal infidels will never understand about the president (Rick Perlstein. July 13th, 2004, Village Voice)
-ESSAY: The Divine Calm of George W. Bush: So Iraq's a mess and half the country hates you. Just keep praying. (Rick Perlstein, April 27th, 2004, Village Voice)
-ESSAY: The Jobs of the Future Are a Thing of the Past: Outsourcing and the sad little movement to stop it. by Rick Perlstein, March 23rd, 2004, Village Voice)
-ESSAY: Flight of the Bumblebee: Howard Dean May Be Dying, but He Sure Packed a Sting (Rick Perlstein, January 27th, 2004, Village Voice)
-ESSAY: Last Copter Out of Baghdad: Bush Flees Iraq Mess On The Campaign Express. (Rick Perlstein, January 6th, 2004, Village Voice)
-ESSAY: Attention, Wal-Mart Voters: Lost Jobs and Military Funerals Haunt Bush in the Heartland (Rick Perlstein, December 2nd, 2003, Village Voice)
-ESSAY: Day of the Spoiler: Inside Joe Lieberman's Kamikaze Campaign (Rick Perlstein, October 21st, 2003, Village Voice)
-ESSAY: Patriot Act?: Wesley Clark says he knew the Iraq War was wrong. So why didn't he say something -- before it was too late? (Rick Perlstein, October 15, 2003, American Prospect)
-ESSAY: Come Out Fighting: Boxing George Bush Into a Corner in 2004 (Rick Perlstein, September 16th, 2003, Village Voice)
-ESSAY: The Fringe on Top: Extremists Help the GOP Muscle In on the Golden State (Rick Perlstein, August 12th, 2003, Village Voice)
-ESSAY: Orange County Anguish: Searching for Someone, Anyone, Who Loves Governor Gray Davis (Rick Perlstein, September 2nd, 2003, Village Voice)
-ESSAY: Howard Dean's Youth Machine: Not since McGovern has a Democratic candidate drawn a youth following the size of Howard Dean's - and that's got some in the party worried. (Rick Perlstein, July 16, 2003, Mother Jones)
-ESSAY: The TV Campaign (Rick Perlstein, November 30, 2002, American Prospect)
-ESSAY: As Reviewed on Amazon (Rick Perlstein, November 30, 2002, American Prospect)
-ESSAY: The 'Safety' Trap: Tuesday's loss gave Tom Daschle and Dick Gephardt plenty to ponder: Democrats followed the party's center-seeking presidential hopefuls into an ideological no-man's land. (Rick Perlstein, November 11, 2002, Mother Jones)
-ESSAY: A Surrender to Trust: Richard Nixon taught the nation a painful lesson about secrecy and the White House. How soon we forget. (Rick Perlstein, July/August 2002, Mother Jones)
-ESSAY: The Historical Present: What has superseded the academic culture wars of the 1990s? It's not what you think. (Rick Perlstein, July 14, 2002, American Prospect)
-ESSAY: The Two Faces of Ralph (Rick Perlstein, January 15th, 2002, Village Voice)
-ESSAY: The Media Muzzled: Vietnam and Afghanistan Show why Limiting Press Access to War is Unpatriotic (Rick Perlstein, December 11th, 2001, Village Voice)
-ESSAY: Pundits Who Predict the Future Are Always Wrong (Rick Perlstein, April 23, 2001, The Nation)
-ESSAY: What's the Matter With College? (Rick Perlstein, NY Times Magazine)
-REVIEW: of PRESIDENT NIXON: Alone in the White House By Richard Reeves (Rick Perlstein, NY Times Book Review)
-REVIEW: of AMERICAN FASCISTS: The Christian Right and the War on America By Chris Hedges (Rick Perlstein, NY Times Book Review)
-REVIEW: of WHAT A PARTY!: My Life Among Democrats: Presidents, Candidates, Donors, Activists, Alligators, and Other Wild Animals. By Terry McAuliffe with Steve Kettmann (Rick Perlstein, NY Times Book Review)
-REVIEW: of FOR THE SURVIVAL OF DEMOCRACY: Franklin Roosevelt and the World Crisis of the 1930s By Alonzo L. Hamby (Rick Perlstein, NY Times Book Review)
-REVIEW: Blumenthals First Draft of History: Princeton University Press has published a compilation of articles by Sidney Blumenthal called How Bush Rules: Chronicles of a Radical Regime (Rick Perlstein, In These Times)
-REVIEW: The Flaw of Averages: How polls obscure America's many social patchworks: a review of The Averaged American: Surveys, Citizens, and the Making of a Mass Public By Sarah Igo (Rick Perlstein, Columbia Journalism Review)
-REVIEW: of Dutch: A Memoir of Ronald Reagan By Edmund Morris (Rick Perlstein, Village Voice)
-REVIEW: of The Trial of Henry Kissinger By Christopher Hitchens (Rick Perlstein, Village Voice)
-REVIEW: of Views From the South: The Effects of Globalization and the WTO on Third World Countries Food First Books and the International Forum on Globalization and Five Days That Shook The World By Alexander Cockburn and Jeffrey St. Clair (Rick Perlstein, Village Voice)
-REVIEW: of Jane Fonda’s War: A Political Biography of an Anti-war Icon by Mary Hershberger (Rick Perlstein, London Review of Books)
-ARCHIVES: Rick Perlstein (The Nation)
-ARCHIVES: perlstein (Salon)
-ARCHIVES: rick perlstein (Newsweek)
-ARCHIVES: Rick Perlstein (In These Times)
-ARCHIVES: Rick Perlstein (AlterNet)
-ARCHIVES: perlstein (Village Voice)
-ARCHIVES: perlstein (American Prospect)
-ARCHIVES: perlstein (Mother Jones)
-ARCHIVES: "perlstein, rick" (Find Articles)
-Kicking Around Nixon...and more (Alex Beam, 5/06/08, Boston Globe)
-REVIEW: of Nixonland (George F. Will, NY Times Book Review)

In Perlstein’s mental universe, Nixon is a bit like God — not, Lord knows, because of Nixon’s perfect goodness and infinite mercy, but because Nixon is the explanation for everything. Or at least for the rise of the right and the decline of almost everything else. This is a subject Perlstein, a talented man of the left, has addressed before.

In 2001, he published the best book yet on the social ferments that produced Barry Goldwater’s 1964 presidential candidacy. Subtle and conscientious, “Before the Storm: Barry Goldwater and the Unmaking of the American Consensus” demonstrated Perlstein’s omnivorous appetite for telling tidbits from the news media, like this one: When Goldwater was campaigning in the 1964 New Hampshire primary, The New York Times ran a photograph with the snide caption “Barry Goldwater, aspirant for the Republican presidential nomination, with the widow of Senator Styles Bridges in East Concord. She holds dog.” Oh, the other person must be the conservative presidential candidate. [...]

Now comes the second installment of Perlstein’s meditation on that era’s and, he thinks, our current discontents. “Nixonland: The Rise of a President and the Fracturing of America” completes his inquest into the death of the “cult of ‘American consensus’” and the birth of “American cacophony.” Perlstein’s chronicle, which begins with the Watts riot of August 1965, is itself riotous: even at its calmest, his pell-mell narrative calls to mind a Pieter Bruegel painting of tumultuous peasants; at its most fervid, it resembles one of Hieronymus Bosch’s nightmares.

Do we need another waist-deep wallow in the 1960s, ensconcing us cheek by jowl with Frank Rizzo and Eldridge Cleaver, Sam Yorty and Mark Rudd, Lester Maddox and Herbert Marcuse and other long-forgotten bit players in a period drama? Do we need to be reminded of that era’s gaseous juvenophilia, like Time magazine’s celebration of Americans 25 or younger as 1967’s “Man of the Year”: “This is not just a new generation, but a new kind of generation. ... In the omphalocentric process of self-construction and discovery,” today’s youth “stalks love like a wary hunter, but has no time or target — not even the mellowing Communists — for hate.”

Well, this retrospective wallow does increase the public stock of harmless pleasure, as when Perlstein revisits the 1972 Democratic convention that nominated George McGovern and heard 80 nominations for vice president, including Mao Zedong and Archie Bunker. But Perlstein’s high-energy — sometimes too energetic — romp of a book also serves, inadvertently, a serious need: it corrects the cultural hypochondria to which many Americans, including Perlstein, are prone.

Because the baby boomers’ self-absorption is so ample, there already has been no shortage of brooding about those years. We do, however, benefit from the brooding by Perlstein, who is not a boomer, for two reasons. First, he has a novelist’s, or perhaps an anthropologist’s, eye for illuminating details, as in his jaw-dropping reconstruction of the Newark riots of July 1967. Second, his thorough excavation of the cultural detritus of that decade refutes his thesis, which is that now, as then, Americans are at daggers drawn. [...]

Perlstein repeatedly explains Nixon’s or other people’s behavior as arising from an Orthogonian resentment of Franklins, including establishment figures as different as Alger Hiss and Nelson Rockefeller. Nixon “co-opted the liberals’ populism, channeling it into a white middle-class rage at the sophisticates, the well-born, the ‘best circles.’” By stressing the importance of Nixon’s character in shaping events, and the centrality of resentments in shaping Nixon’s character, Perlstein treads a dead-end path blazed by Hofstadter, who seemed not to understand that condescension is not an argument. Postulating a link between “status anxiety” and a “paranoid style” in American politics — especially conservative politics — Hofstadter dismissed the conservative movement’s positions as mere attitudes that did not merit refutation. Perlstein, too, gives these ideas short shrift.

As the pollster Samuel Lubell had already noted before the 1952 election, “the inner dynamics of the Roosevelt coalition have shifted from those of getting to those of keeping.” Perlstein keenly sees that some liberals “developed a distaste” for the social elements they had championed, now that those elements were “less reliably downtrodden” and less content to be passively led by liberal elites.

The masses bought television sets and enjoyed what they watched. But Newton Minow, the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission (and formerly Adlai Stevenson’s administrative assistant) declared television a “vast wasteland,” thereby implicitly scolding viewers who enjoyed it. When New York was becoming a lawless dystopia, with crime, drugs and homelessness spoiling public spaces, August Heckscher, the patrician commissioner of parks under Mayor John Lindsay, sniffily declared that people clamoring for law and order were “scared by the abundance of life.”

A Newsweek cover story on Louise Day Hicks, who led opposition to forced busing of school children in Boston, described her supporters as “a comic-strip gallery of tipplers and brawlers and their tinseled overdressed dolls ... the men queued up to give Louise their best, unscrewing cigar butts from their chins to buss her noisily on the cheek, or pumping her arm as if it were a jack handle under a truck.”

Perlstein deftly deploys such judgments to illustrate what the resentful resented. Unfortunately, he seems to catch the ’60s disease of rhetorical excess.


-REVIEW: of Nixonland (The Economist)
-REVIEW: of Nixonland (BuzzFlash)
-REVIEW: of Nixonland (Harry Levins, St. Louis POST-DISPATCH)
-REVIEW: of Before the Storm (Mark Greif, Village Voice)
-REVIEW: of David Greenberg. Nixon's Shadow: The History of an Image (Raj Jethwa, H-USA)
-REVIEW: of Nixon Agonistes: The Crisis of the Self-Made Man By Garry Wills (John Leonard, NY Times)

Posted by Orrin Judd at May 23, 2008 8:31 AM
Comments

It might be useful to think of Perlstein as the author of an alt-history series - with the difference that many readers in the alt-reality-based community think this stuff is actually true.

Posted by: Kelly at May 23, 2008 10:14 AM

What I find interesting is how the left seems to fasten onto certain characters and present their evil machinations as being the sole reason for the left's failure. McCarthy, Nixon, Bush - it is always the evil of dastardly men, and for a group that likes to think of themselves as intellectuals it is pretty simplistic.

Posted by: Mikey at May 23, 2008 12:40 PM

Mikey:

But that follows naturally from their axioms. If people are rational, and central planning works, then the only possible reason we could not be living in utopia is control by a cabal of sociopathic villians.

Posted by: Mike Earl at May 23, 2008 12:52 PM

But what a fragile utopia. One that can be brought down by a Nixon, a senile Reagan or even an idiot like Bushitler

Posted by: Raoul Ortega at May 23, 2008 1:30 PM

It might be useful to think of Perlstein as the author of an alt-history series - with the difference that many readers in the alt-reality-based community think this stuff is actually true.

Posted by: Kelly at May 23, 2008 9:22 PM

Geez,
Did any of you live thru the Nixon years as an adult?
Of course not!
Nixon's wage control cost me in excess of $3k a year!
The only good thing about his Presidency is it saved us from the "happy warrior" and, four years later, from McGovern.
The worst thing about it? It allowed Jimmy Carter, the worst President of the 20th Century, to serve four years.
Richard Nixon elected in 1960 would've been a boon to the Nation. In '68/'72, the really lesser of two evils!

Posted by: Mike at May 23, 2008 9:36 PM
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