Nixonland

by Rick Pearlstein compiled by W. Antoniotti 4/18/19 

 
 

Inspired by book reviews from Scribner NYT, goodreads,  aux.avclub, worldatlas articles and thenation

Prelude:
A Richard Nixon review might ask is this book relevant  to 21st-century America.
20th Century back-room regional politicking has been replaced by
Red and Blue color-coded maps, bloody primaries and spin machine.
Using either method, Richard Nixon would overcome his loser image.


Few emerged unscathed in Nixonland.

The relentless depictions of liberal Vietnam War hubris.

Fearlessly describing the self-destructive impulses intimidating the left.

Many feel Nixon was a manipulator who told the truth only when couldn't avoid it. 

He manipulated  and amplifying description of chaos for political gain.

Others feel Truman, Kennedy Johnson, and Eisenhower also had these characteristics.

 

Nixonland characters are angry conservatives, raging leftists, hubristic liberals,

and a news media that happily amplified and exaggerated their message.

It recaptures the turbulent 60s & early 70s counterculture revealing

how Dick Nixon rose from the political grave to seize & hold the presidency.

Nine months after Johnson's landslide 194 victory over Goldwater,

the '65 Watts riots, the  '66 midyear elections reversed the political landscape .

Scores of liberals lost reelection. A second civil ware rocked '65 & '72 America.

 

Nixon had a dark side shaped by his self-perceived adversity.

Finances stopped his going to the eastern elite Harvard University.

An elite Whittier College student society blackball enhanced his ambition.

Not wanting to be a rejected, straight, square student,

he formed and ran his own student society.

Feelings toward these groups were dominating.

 

Politics is most difficult when governing a divided nation.

Politics too often takes advantage of apocalyptic fear/hatred.

It often centers on costal elites and ordinary rural Americans.

Conflict and exploitive Identity politics, not understanding, governed politics.

 

Mutually destructive violence controlled America's cultural from 1964 to 1972.

Civil Rights Acts of 1964, 1965 and 1966 encroached on white privilege northern elites. 

A  silent majority of white working class Americans were pitted against a liberal minority
consisting of radical youth, black revolutionaries and eastern intellectuals.

 

Nixon, Reagan and Wallace took advantage politically from social conflict.

Civil Rights Constitution rhetoric was used then as it is in our current ealth care debates.

Southern compliance with the 1964 Civil Rights Act was tied to federal funds.

Eighteen senators, believing school guidelines were an abuse of power, wrote the president.

George Wallace said guidelines were an ‘illegal’ and ‘totalitarian’ ‘blueprint devised by socialists.’

He believed HEW had support of the Communist Party fronts, affiliates and publications.

 

Then the Vietnam War affected many young Americans.

Students for a Democratic Society

Students for a Democratic Society had chapters at most schools.

The Progressive Labor Party Maoist faction controlled contrasting factions.

The Weather Underground, wanting control,  joined a PLP coalition.

Recruits were often white working-class angry high school students.

The Women's Liberation Cacus, a national faction, protested male chauvinism.

Conflict among factions, approaching anarchy, inflicted the SDS convention.

 

Fall of 1968, Kent State shootings began when SDS and Black Panther
student organization staged a sit-in to protest police campus recruiting.

Then, during a US bombing of Cambodia protest, Ohio guardsmen fired
at protesters for 16 seconds. Four students were killed, nine wounded.

 

A Newark riot  was one of 159 race riots during the "Long Hot Summer of 1967"

Guardsmen plus state and local police struggling for 4 days to maintain order.

Rioting, looting, and property destruction resulted with 26 killed and about 1500 injured.

New Jersey's largest city led the nation in substandard housing.

A 1965 diarrhea epidemic killed 28 babies, some in the bat infested city hospital.

It was a corrupt town where illegal gambling flourished, cops ran heroin rings,

and stores raised prices on welfare checks day.

 

The 1968 Presidential election was a squeaker despite Humphrey's

severe lack of funds and divided disgusted Democratic party.

Nixon had paid close attention to the 1964 Goldwater nomination where

through grassroots organizing he took  control from southern Democrats.

Wallace and Reagan were quick studies for their exploitation of the hatred

and alienation felt by white, blue collar, traditionally core Democrats.

It was the exploitation of this narrow niche, and the promise

to end the Vietnam War, that got Nixon into the White House.

Nixon's presidency continued to increase this division which

began with the civil rights movement and expanded into

the culture wars of identity politics.

 

 

Nixon and LBJ had much copious effect on our political landscape.

Race, environment, poverty, welfare, health insurance, use of the military,

and limits of executive power are defined in the reaction to or by them.

Lyndon Johnson abused executive power.

He lied and hid activities because as an ultimate retail politician,

he knew the executive had to have legislative support.

For support he lied about the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution

and the entire conduct of the Vietnam War.

 

Kennedy had been no better. He arrested of steel executives at midnight,

used of wiretaps and gave tacit approval for the assassination of the Ngo brothers.

It was all a taste of what would come under Nixon.

Nixon, without consultation, waged war on two sovereign nations (Laos and Cambodia),

took the US off the gold standard, imposed Wage and Price controls ,

held secret negotiations with China and the Soviet Union,

blackmailed corporations for campaign contributing and

had the IRS, FBI and CIA harass his political opponents.

 

Nixon easily exceeded Cheney and Bush’s executive power abuses.

Cheney wanted a return to Nixon’s doctrine that a president was above the law.

Does Nixon, Reagan and Bush 2 abuses indicate right-wing dominance?

Nixon was subtle and crafty in the world of policy but was

was criminal, blatant and paranoid in reelection politics.

It would consume all that he did.

 

Editorial from Reviewers Scribner
 

Nixon and Johnson corrupt lies destroyed faith in American government.

Both men believed that their political tactics and acceptability to bribes 

were needed for government could solve malignant problems.

Reagan used American disillusionment with corrupt government

to destroy the idea of government and created this absurd nightmare.

Now the violence, fury, paranoia and activism from the Right cannot
be countered from the Left because it is busy defending government.

Given a choice between the reason and will,  people will choose will.

 

I believe that Nixon had genuine abilities, both as an executive and as a man.

He saw much.

Fearing a recession for political reasons he may have allowed inflation.

He saw how of the resulting inflation affected the balance of trade.

He concluded that America would no longer be the sole economic power.

Rather than tell this to the American people he took the US off[ the gold standard.

Editor's note: American industry use creative destruction to leave unprofitable

US manufacturing and be in control of a flat world run by US finance.

He saw retaining military power required relations with China.

He played this early observation so close that Kissinger was not told