What Would Nixon Do?

In light of the discussions about fiscal cliffs, spendthrift Democrats and plutocratic Republicans who never met a tax cut for the rich they didn’t like comes this video I stumbled across. Richard M. Nixon explaining that it’s not how much government spends that matters; it’s what they spend it on. This man had a heart, people.

So what would Nixon make of all of our squabbling? I think he’d be a centrist, someone you could meet in the middle and do business with. Too bad we’ve lost that.

VIDEO: From the History Channel

34 thoughts on “What Would Nixon Do?

  1. Jeremy Powers says:

    OK, it was an extremely paranoid heart..

    By today’s standards he would be jettisoned to the Huntsman heap of moderate Republican presidential candidates. Zero chance of being nominated today. Nixon met the need of 1968 with people protesting the Vietnam War, etc. The last thing the Republicans would have won with is Barry Goldwater redux. Nixon was moderate enough – plus helped being a Quaker – to make people believe he was going to get us out of the moist unloved war in American history.

    1. Ellen Mrja says:

      When I saw this video, I was surprised at how wide the extremes of American politics have become.

      It also made me think of how vilified Chris Christie has been for behaving as an adult when an extraordinary problem came along and he showed he was more than willing – indeed, he was grateful – to work with “the other side.”

      Is it, as Mike said, all about getting re-elected? And are we all big goofs for believing it could be about something else, something greater?

      1. Part of it is ALWAYS about getting elected or re-elected. You don’t get into politics unless you already have an inflated ego. But, the Minnesota elected officials I know – and I know quite a few through my dealings with the DFL – are there to “save the world.” They may not, but they believe they will when they get elected. In fact, one of the things I say, which is political “earth to candidate” advice: “First you have to get elected; then you can save the world.”

        The flip side to “all they want to do is get re-elected” are the enshrined senators and congress people who haven’t had a real challenge in 20 years – both Democrats and Republicans. Without a serious challenge, the Orrin Hatches and the Tom Harkins of the world don’t even have to make sense any more and can do whatever they want, regardless of sensibilities. Look at Iowa’s Chuck Grassley, who at one point was going to steer millions of dollars to set up an indoor rain forest – in Iowa. Frankly that makes the “bridge to nowhere” – which really is a needed Alaskan improvement – look as sensible as providing meals to soldiers. They frequently just become obstructionists because they think it’s fun.

        Even among the aging bulls, I will give a nod to Democrats. If you believe government can do good, right a wrong, push us forward, it’s easy to find another project to support. But if you believe that government is the problem, all you can do is try to interrupt it at every chance.

    2. Erik says:

      Ahem, I’m back from treatment.

      This is bit like playing alternate reality. It’s fun, but meaningless. In any event, I’m not sure that its true, because it’s not a comparison of Nixon’s relative Right-ness within the party in 1968 to a candidate’s same position of Right-ness within the party now. And I believe that’s the meaningful comparison. In baseball stats, it would be to adjust for the era.

      Anyway, fact of the matter is, Nixon was plenty Right at the time. He was a helluva anti-communist, which is what mattered.

      1. Jim Leinfelder says:

        Erik, he failed, utterly. Why, according to freshly former Congressman Alan West, there are, like, 81 “secret” commies in the House. That’s probably more than in McCarthy’s era.

      2. PM says:

        Well, Erik, I generally agree with you here. Kind of hard to make comparisons 30 years or so after the fact. Not that i disagree with Ellen’s point (i do think that the GOP has moved to the right). but proving it is complex and complicated–and there is a difference between absolute and relative rightwardness.

        Still, not certain that I’d compliment Nixon on his anti-communism. Indeed, I think that his most important accomplishment was the opening to China–hardly the stuff of anti-communism, after all. Probably his anti-communism mattered least of all–he was far more pragmatic than anything else.

      3. Jim Leinfelder says:

        In fairness, PM, it was Nixon’s anti-communism chops that famously inoculated him against being criticized for going soft on communism, and thus, the only politician who could go to China at the time.

      4. PM says:

        I agree, Jim–but it brings into question that same reputation that he had, doesn’t it?

        Nixon was (is) a conundrum, a mixed up jumble of strange motivations. LBJ in comparison is pretty straightforward! I wonder when/if we will have a definitive Nixon biography?

      5. Jim Leinfelder says:

        Really, Erik, a decided drift, well, riptide, really, to the right in the Republican party has escaped your notice?

      6. Erik says:

        No, it hasn’t escaped me. Note, as a function of age my political awareness starts at perhaps 1979. My sense is that pre-Reagan Republicanism was a little more technocratic and not so ideological. But I don’t know that first hand. I know it’s the Rand influence that’s overwhelming now.

        I’m saying “Richard Nixon wouldn’t be conservative enough to win the nomination today” isn’t true, as people who make that observation are comparing conservatism then with conservatism today. That’s not a meaningful comparison. The meaningful comparison is Richard Nixon’s relative rightness within the range of mainstream conservatism then vs. a candidates comparable relative position within the mainstream conservative spectrum now.

        I’m saying “Richard Nixon wouldn’t be conservative enough to win the nomination today” is an inaccurate trope.

      7. Jim Leinfelder says:

        Well, the “trope,” as you refer to it, rings to my ear as merely a way of illustrating how far to the right American conservative thought has tacked in the last four decades, or so. I think that is merely the point Ellen is making, not anything particular about Nixon, per se.

  2. Newt says:

    I cannot help but be amazed. What part of “broke” don’t you people get?

    We borrow 40 cents on every dollar spent today, and most of that is debt service to the Chinese.

    News flash, Jeremy. When the Great Collapse happens it won’t matter what taxes are spent on because there won’t be any money left.

    To shrink it down to size, just once I wish you, Ellen, PM et al would explain to your readers why California is in the shape it’s in. Don’t change the subject, just address it head on. Be courageous.

    1. PM says:

      Top holder of US debt obligations is…the US Government! Yes, that is correct–most of the obligations are for the Social Security system, as well as federal pension programs. China only has about 1/6th of that amount–they are in second place, and by a long shot. in third place comes private investors–the vast majority of which are US citizens–in the form of US savings bonds, etc.. In 4th place is Japan. Then come US Pension funds, then US mutual funds, then US state and local governments, then the UK, then US Federal Reserve Depository institutions (banks, etc.), then insurance companies.

      Out of the top 10 holders of US debt, China ranks #2, but only holds 9%. Most of it is owed to ourselves.


  3. Huh? This is weird even for the peanut gallery.


    Broke? Just a SLIGHT exaggeration and has absolutely NOTHING TO DO with what I was talking about.

    So who changed the subject?

    Oh, and what is the price of tea in China?


    Treatment didn’t take. Redux. And take Newt with you.

    1. Erik says:

      Yeah? I couldn’t help but notice you’re still a misanthropic douchebag. Say, I guess you’re right. It didn’t take.

  4. Ellen Mrja says:

    Well, Newt, here’s your answer, compliments of CNN.com. Don’t freak at the leftist liberal source. The story is actually told by a guy from the Cato Institute and reported by CNN:

    “The governor of California is jogging with his dog along a nature trail. A coyote jumps out and attacks the governor’s dog, then bites the governor. The governor starts to intervene, but reflects upon the movie Bambi and then realizes he should stop because the coyote is only doing what is natural.

    He calls animal control. Animal control captures the coyote and bills the state $200 for testing it for diseases and $500 for relocating it. He calls a veterinarian. The vet collects the dead dog and bills the state $200 for testing it for diseases. The governor goes to the hospital and spends $3,500 getting checked for diseases from the coyote and getting his bite wound bandaged.

    The running trail gets shut down for six months while the California Fish and Game Department conducts a $100,000 survey to make sure the area is now free of dangerous animals. The governor spends $50,000 in state funds implementing a ‘coyote awareness program’ for residents of the area. The Legislature spends $2 million to study how to better treat rabies and how to permanently eradicate the disease throughout the world.

    The governor’s security agent is fired for not stopping the attack. The state spends $150,000 to hire and train a new agent with additional special training, re: the nature of coyotes. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) protests the coyote’s relocation and files a $5 million suit against the state.

    The governor of Texas is jogging with his dog along a nature trail. A coyote jumps out and tries to attack him and his dog. The governor shoots the coyote with his state-issued pistol and keeps jogging.

    The governor spent 50 cents on a .380-caliber, hollow-point cartridge. Buzzards ate the dead coyote.

    And that, my friends, is why California is broke and Texas is not.”

    Source: http://economy.money.cnn.com/2012/10/10/california-texas-richard-fisher/

    1. PM says:

      Thanks for that, Ellen–I can’t tell you how relieved i am to know all of that! I had assumed that the reason CA was broke was that the Gov. was diddling the maid, and the state had to pay her off!

  5. Ellen Mrja says:

    Re: Nixon being a conundrum – That’s a Capricorn for you. Always looking ahead to see what dangers lurk and looking back to see where dangers lurked that you avoided but still somehow feel you could have avoided better. Ask me. I know. He and I share the same birthday, Jan. 9. Different years, wise guys, so don’t even go there.

    1. PM says:

      So, Ellen….just out of curiousity, which of your planets are currently in ascendence? And does this mean that you are also a conundrum?

  6. Newt says:

    WASHINGTON (AP) — Congress is back in town after the election to find a way around automatic tax increases and spending cuts in January. But first, lawmakers are dealing with 41 polar bear carcasses.

    In its first roll call since September, the Senate voted 92-5 on Tuesday to debate a bill to ease restrictions on hunters and fishermen and allow 41 U.S. hunters to bring home polar bear carcasses trapped in Canada due to a ban on trophy imports.

      1. Ellen Mrja says:

        Whatever happend to the John McCain who was not the “pompous, saggy, crotchety, old ass,” as one of the commenters on that site put it? All he seems to do these days is chase TV cameras. Bottom line: he hounded the White House for that briefing on Benghazi and then did not attend it. And, to paraphrase the senator, who the hell does he think HE is to do that?

    1. PM says:

      Yeah, the Post Office is a hard one to fix. We require some kind of universal information/communication system for our country, and it has to be cheap enough that everyone can use it, and secure enough that we know things get delivered (tax payments, legal notices, government notices, etc), both too and from the government. How to ensure that this kind of a service exists and is secure and universally available is essential for any country.

      At some point in time the physical postal service will no longer make sense–but I am not certain we are there yet. If we wait long enough we ought to be able to create some kind of a universal access program that will fill in enough gaps so that our current combination of cable/wire telephone and cellular service becomes secure and universal. Hopefully someone is costing that out, and we can then see when the cost of the postal service becomes greater than the cost of creating and operating this new replacement service.

  7. Newt says:

    Murray: Can’t guarantee 2014 budget

    By Erik Wasson – 11/15/12 11:17 AM ET

    Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) confirmed Thursday that she will seek the chairmanship of the Senate Budget Committee next year but told The Hill that she cannot commit to doing a budget.

    This opens up the possibility that Senate Democrats will avoiding passing a budget resolution for the fourth year in a row.

    The last time the Senate passed a standalone budget resolution was in 2009.

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