MITT calls Honest John on his Nixon-era tactics, which immediately made me think of how much we need Dick Tuck these days, even if most of his exploits were, uh, apocryphal. Though if there is a God, somewhere a band really did strike up "Mack the Knife" as Tricky Dick took the stage. Or else that's how they greeted him at the Pearly Gates.
The second thing I thought of was Ronald Reagan, namely, the extent to which his phony legend is indebted to the Republican desire to bury Nixon without admitting they were doing so, and the extent to which rewriting the history of that era perversely became the GOP strong suit. Vietnam, of course, and Civil Rights, the ERA, Education, Social Security: there's an archeologically stratified series of successive inhabitations that requires little digging, and occasionally useful nuggets are still visible above ground, and they all point to ugly realities covered over by short memories and snappy sloganeering.
Which would include the fact that Nixon was an enormously popular campaigner with the Republican faithful, and that his campaign practices, if eventually sinking into the ugly paranoia that seems to have been at the center of the man, hardly seem objectively much worse than Reagan's stolen debate books, or the machinations of Spitz Channel or Richard Viguerie or Lee Atwater, or Tom DeLay and the Swift Boaters and Bush-Cheney in South Carolina. And that's just talkin' campaigns.
It's nice to know that "Nixon" can now be used as a pejorative in Republican circles so recently after his departure from the national scene, and that someone else could even try out "Robber Baron", though it turns out it's still a little too early to get away with that one. (By the way, I've been remiss in expressing my admiration for what Ed Rollins has accomplished with the Huckabee campaign, which is now routinely identified as The Religious Nut-Job Pandering Huckabee Campaign in the popular press. Ed lumbered on board at a time when the Thompson campaign's failure to animate was so generally acknowledged that Thompson's staff reportedly even woke him to tell him about it, and the Old Pro proceeded to orchestrate a stunning transfer of Thompson's momentum to his own man. I'm a big fan of recycling stuff when nobody's usin' it.) At this rate they'll be catching up with the slight exaggerations in Cold War rhetoric by 2135. McCain's tarring of Romney as a Secret Timetabler was, by Republican standards, hardly worth the cost of a brush. Nixonian? Have you guys forgotten your own history somewhere along the rewrite trail? It was more Brooksian than anything else.