Saturday, August 6, 2011

Missing Richard Nixon, Shrinking Tea Parties

Kurt Anderson




Well, did you have a good time at Rick Perry's faith rally? I hope you viewed it as a positive and humbling experience, not as an event cynically manipulated by a man who will be seeking your votes. I don't think that Rick is smart enough to do the latter, but his handlers sure would... I am always wary of any politician who brings their faith into the public limelight. It's like introducing your children on stage and bringing them to rallies, then complaining that it was unfair for people to write about them, an act now known as Pulling A Palin... I also am leery of anyone who asks God for an answer in prayer without practicing meditation in their life. It's too easy to deceive them, have any minor demon pretend they are god, and give them a false answer, ending with the ignorant fools believing they had a vision...

Kurt Anderson's column in the NY Times reminds us of Richard Nixon's madman theory, that if he could persuade the North Vietnamese that he might do anything, including crazy actions, then he might get them to sit down and negotiate his way.
Anderson also claims that Nixon was the farthest to the left of all President's that came after him, his argument: "The overreaching Euro-socialist nanny state that today’s Republicans despise? That blossomed in the Nixon administration.


Spending on social services doubled, and military budgets actually decreased. He oversaw the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, and the Consumer Product Safety Commission. His administration was the first to encourage and enable American Indian tribal autonomy. He quadrupled the staff of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, almost tripled federal outlays for civil rights and began affirmative action in federal hiring. He supported the Equal Rights Amendment and signed Title IX, the law granting equality to female student athletes. One of his Supreme Court appointees wrote the Roe v. Wade decision.


Nixon made Social Security cost-of-living increases automatic, expanded food stamps and started Supplemental Security Income for the disabled and elderly poor. It helped, of course, that Democrats controlled the House and Senate. But it was the president, not Congress, who proposed a universal health insurance plan and a transformation of welfare that would have set a guaranteed minimum income and allowed men to remain with their welfare-recipient families. It was Nixon who radically intervened in the free market by imposing wage and price controls, launched d├ętente with the Soviets, normalized relations with Mao’s China and let the Communists win in Vietnam."

My own first run-in with Richard Nixon happened in the fifth-grade. Everyone else's parents were for John F Kennedy in the election that year, and it seemed that mine alone, and by extension myself, were supporters of Nixon. I was chased around the playground by former friends who were Catholic, and beaten up after school, all for expressing verbal support for my parent's choices. I later took it personally when Kennedy was assassinated on my birthday...

Nixon, to me, is one of the most interesting political figures we have produced. I first began reading biographies about him because I remained appalled by him when he was President, and felt that I should confront those emotions. He reinvented himself several times during his career, going from craven, communist-baiting congressman to elder statesman just before he died. He is one of the few people I wished that I had sat down with and shared cigars and cognac with, along with folks like Richard Pryor, Jorge Amado, and the poet James Wright... Evidently, Nixon's legacy continues to haunt today's right wing, as they want to eliminate everything that he created. How ironic that in our current political climate, richard Nixon is considered to have been too liberal... I think everyone of my generation has to make their peace with Nixon's ghost, even if we don't have him to kick around, anymore...

Of course, many articles written these past few days are about how support for the tea party has been diminishing. Phone surveys have asked folks if they were favorable or not towards tea party views. In 2010, when the question was first asked, 18 percent had an unfavorable view. This year, the unfavorable rating was 40 percent, quite a jump. This may be attributed to the recent hijinks performed by conservative members of Congress, or it may be due to the hijacking of the tea party organizations by extremists who have imposed their views and shut out others. Matt Kibbe, the president of Freedomworks, insists that the tea parties are pushing the agenda of balancing the budget, reducing the debt, and cutting the size of the government. The last issue was the only subject I heard people giving speeches about in the first tea party rally here in Colorado Springs, now home of the white tar baby, Doug Lamborn. He actually is a coal-tar baby,who also sticks to the inside of your lungs... Doug supports my theory that the only time our city makes national headlines, it's because of something embarrassing happening. We have the Olympic Committee headquartered here, so we're just ripe for another scandal...

A lot of tea party web sites have disappeared, and our local tea party newspaper, the Constitutionalist Today, went out of production after a few issues, partly because the woman who was the editor couldn't make a cohesive argument in writing even if she was paid for it... As a past editor of narrow niche fare, I understand all to well the surprise and feelings when you discover that you are not catapulted into the national spotlight and that you will not be making a living off of your dreams... but it could all boil down to the simple fact that many folks are tired of being angry and have decided to focus their attentions elsewhere. Plus, us old folks don't have much of an attention span, thanks to the behavior modification techniques from years of watching television. Both the behavior modification and the hidden liberalism of folks like Nixon and Reagan come from essays written by Jerry Mander. I wonder what he has written lately?



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