The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

Is The GOP Hopelessly Nixonian?

Posted on | August 27, 2011 | 4 Comments

by Smitty

Insty links to Bret Jacobson in Forbes. Jacobson starts with the obvious JFK/Nixon debate point, enumerates the various major new media channels, and concludes:

So successful campaigns using digital tools well should always be congratulated, sometimes emulated (never duplicated), and always topped. Showing up is a great first step. Then it’s time to understand how to win in an emerging medium.

I don’t think that the GOP’s Nixonian problem has to do with a Luddite view of technology. The wrecking of George Allen in 2006 and the ludicrous $ haul of BHO in 2008 are two searing examples among thousands of why technology mastery goes without saying.

The view of Nixon’s character, as seen in Frost/Nixon suggests another parallel between the GOP gestalt and Nixon; that of the Ruling Class Overlord confronted with the hoi polloi. The elder statesman is too burdened with his weighty matters of state to condescend to explain himself to a commoner. But, as with the JFK/Nixon debate issue, this is superficial.

The problem is not the GOP inside the beltway looking out to the lumpen proletariat. Rather, the American citizens looking into the beltway having trouble telling apart the GOP and Democrat ends of the Ruling Class. In a twisted way, the Democrats are more forthright: they explicitly believe that there are no problems, only government solutions. No bones about it. No faux capitalist bleating, and then another bureaucracy (TSA) or ream of legislation up the stern tube.

Now, I understand that all the GOP candidates, in contrast to the Democrat one, have got to be moderate for a few reasons:

  • The Independent third of the electorate decides who gets control.
  • People will cheerfully ride the economic bus they know off a cliff rather than consider things like eliminating the Federal Reserve, with the attendant uncertainty about who will pick our pockets and shower them with economic ruin, if not Bernanke.
  • Nobody wants to upset the rice bowls. The amazingly torpid homo bureaucratus who works within the beltway can become agitated, and release a storm of PowerPoint slides, if his meeting room habitat is disturbed. Candidates are wise to take a mellow tack, and promise spending cuts, but no staffing cuts.

That’s all campaigning, which is a different beast than holding office, unless your name sounds similar to origami.

Which is the crux of the matter for the GOP. Doing the right, proper, conservative, common-sense thing involves a refudiation of their entire Ruling Class approach for the last century. It’s one thing for a lone drunk to go cold turkey, but sobering an entire political party is like trying to get Jimmy Carter not to be a milquetoast: easier said than dried.

Answering the question posed in the title, the GOP is hopelessly Nixonian by nature. It is also going to have as much change beaten into it as necessary by the Tea Party to overcome the hopeless part. The Radtke/Allen kerfuffle is a case in point; look for further entertainment as the primary season unfolds, Virginians.


4 Responses to “Is The GOP Hopelessly Nixonian?”

  1. Joseph Fein
    August 27th, 2011 @ 4:18 pm


    In advance of the CAGOP Fall Convention in LA, the new Chairman wrote this….

    Things are moving slowly here, but they are listening (Now if we can only get candidates to listen to RS and pay him funds, we will win more)

  2. richard mcenroe
    August 27th, 2011 @ 7:00 pm

    Put it simpler. McConnell, Cornyn and Boehner have more in common with Reid, Kerry and Pelosi than they do with those slob voters stinking up the Visitor’s Gallery… and they like it that way…

  3. Quartermaster
    August 27th, 2011 @ 8:03 pm

    The problem with the GOP is the same problem that Nixon had, they are part of the establishment that Codevilla described so well over at AmSpec. That article really is a very bright spot in AmSpec’s history given the little men such as Jeff Lord and Phil Klein that have been published over there.

  4. Anonymous
    August 27th, 2011 @ 9:22 pm

    Nixon part of the Establishment? YGBSM. From his first campaign, when he knocked off Helen Gahagan Douglas (“the pink lady”) to his last, Nixon was an outsider, a populist who didn’t fit into the neat Ivy League template of the Establishment. He was imposed on Ike as a balancing measure (much like Cheney on W) and until his historic trip to China was regarded as an unregenerate, diehard anti-Communist. He may have wanted to be part of the Establishment, but as a hard-working graduate of obscure Whittier College, and JFK’s opponent in 1960, that was never going to happen, and his hounding from office for things routinely done by Kennedies and Johnsons should have been the definitive proof. Nixon may have been a Keynesian, and a RINO by today’s definition, but calling him a member of the Establishment is absolutely incorrect.