June 6, 2008

NIXON IN A SKIRT:

The Dirty Trickster: Campaign tips from the man who has done it all. (Jeffrey Toobin, June 2, 2008, The New Yorker)

For nearly forty years, [Roger] Stone has hovered around Republican and national politics, both near the center and at the periphery. At times, mostly during the Reagan years, he was a political consultant and lobbyist who, in conventional terms, was highly successful, working for such politicians as Bob Dole and Tom Kean. Even then, though, Stone regularly crossed the line between respectability and ignominy, and he has become better known for leading a colorful personal life than for landing big-time clients. Still, it is no coincidence that Stone materialized in the midst of the Spitzer scandal—and that he had memorable cameos in the last two Presidential elections. While the Republican Party usually claims Ronald Reagan as its inspiration, Stone represents the less discussed but still vigorous legacy of Richard Nixon, whose politics reflected a curious admixture of anti-Communism, social moderation, and tactical thuggery. [...]

It was Stone’s preoccupation with toughness that led to his enduring affection for Nixon. “The reason I’m a Nixonite is because of his indestructibility and resilience,” Stone said. “He never quit. His whole career was all built around his personal resentment of élitism. It was the poor-me syndrome. John F. Kennedy’s father bought him his House seat, his Senate seat, and the Presidency. No one bought Nixon anything. Nixon resented that. He was very class-conscious. He identified with the people who ate TV dinners, watched Lawrence Welk, and loved their country.” (Rule: “When I hear the word ‘culture,’ I reach for my revolver.”)

Although Stone shares many of Nixon’s resentments, his own tastes have always tended to more Rabelaisian pleasures than “champagne music” and Salisbury steak. Not long ago, Stone went to the Ink Monkey tattoo shop in Venice Beach and had a portrait of Nixon’s face applied to his back, right below the neck. “Women love it,” Stone said.
Nixon recognized the effectiveness of anti-élitism—a staple of American campaigns even today—as a core message. “Everybody talks about the Reagan Democrats who helped put the Republican Party over the top, but they were really the Nixon Democrats. The exodus of working-class people from the Democratic Party was started by Nixon. The realignment was delayed by Watergate, but it was really Nixon who figured out how to win,” Stone said. “We had a non-élitist message. We were the party of the workingman! We wanted lower taxes for everyone, across the board. They were the party of the Hollywood élite.” Stone went on, “The point that the Democrats missed was that the people who weren’t rich wanted to be rich. And Jimmy Carter was viewed as an appeaser.” [...]

Stone detests Hillary Clinton’s politics but admires her pugnacity. He wrote recently on his Web site, an erratically updated collection of observations called Stonezone.com, “I must admit she has demonstrated true grit and Nixonian-like tenacity in the face of adversity.” Stone particularly admires Clinton’s attempt to hang the “élitist” tag on Barack Obama. “It’s a good idea,” he said.


The beauty of the profile is that he finds Nixonland in
the Democratic primary.

Posted by Orrin Judd at June 6, 2008 11:00 AM
Comments

I think Nixon had better legs...

Posted by: Jorge Curioso at June 6, 2008 1:12 PM

Stone represents the less discussed but still vigorous legacy of Richard Nixon, whose politics reflected a curious admixture of anti-Communism, social moderation, and tactical thuggery.

I think the author just described Lyndon Johnson. Or does he think Washiungton politics is made up of cream puffs?

Posted by: Mikey at June 6, 2008 2:25 PM
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