Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Our past, our future

Bringing back the bad old days, Elizabeth Drew writes a column in the Washington Post: Nostalgia for Nixon?

Wow. There's a phrase I never thought I'd hear. But Drew makes the point:
Numerous people have been moved to remark, "I'm beginning to miss Nixon," or, "I wish we could have Nixon back" -- this usually followed by, "He was so progressive on domestic policy."
The nostalgists rightly see Richard Nixon as having been far more intelligent and thoughtful than George W. Bush; Nixon was indeed very smart, though no intellectual.
But not so fast:
...despite his own misgivings, he presided over increased spending for education, and he proposed federal support for health insurance, especially for low-income families -- he often referred to his parents' struggle to pay medical bills -- but this, too, failed.
...Nixon's pragmatism, his lack of core beliefs and his opportunism throughout his political lifetime offer little reason to doubt that he would be right in step with the conservative Republican politics of today.

On that note, I'm just finishing David Halberstam's The Best and the Brightest and am chilled by the similarities of the Vietnam era to this one. The mistakes made by those who should have known better are mindboggling. The only difference is that Lyndon Johnson and his aides had to hide their plans for sending troops to Vietnam so as not to hurt the 'Great Society' domestic agenda. Not a problem for G.W. Bush, who had no agenda (except to emasculate programs) and had the blind support of Americans scared by 9/11.

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