Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Politics:  Newt Nixon

Dismissing conventional wisdom that portrays the increasingly entertaining Mitt vs. Newt spectacle in standard political language — moderate vs. right-winger, pragmatist vs. ideologue, establishment vs. Tea Party — essayist Kevin Williamson analyzed the conflict in far more basic terms:

It is between those Republicans who disagree with Barack Obama, believing his policies to be mistaken, he writes, and those who hate Barack Obama, believing him to be wicked.

As a political matter ... the parallels between Nixon and Gingrich are ... focused on three streams of conservative resentment:

• Media: Nixon brilliantly used the liberal media as a political foil, casting major news organizations as tools of left-wing Democrats; Gingrich built his breakthrough South Carolina win on two bombastic debate performances in which he tongue-lashed talking heads Juan Williams and John King as elites, winning standing ovations, along with widespread voter support, for his attacks.

• Race: Nixon's Southern Strategy, which exploited the anger and resentment of whites about federal civil-rights legislation, made him the first Republican to dominate presidential voting in the South after the Civil War; Gingrich's statements in South Carolina featured thinly veiled, dog-whistle appeals on race, as when he trashed Obama as the food-stamp president or thundered that Williams, an African American, was unfamiliar with the concept of work.

• Culture: Nixon defined as anti-American bums Vietnam and civil-rights protesters, contrasting them with ordinary Americans yearning for law and order. Gingrich cast Obama not as a partisan rival with whom he disagrees but as an existential threat to America, a dangerous left-wing radical who appeases Islamic terrorists and empowers grotesquely dictatorial judges; his pitch was widely applauded by right-wing Republicans who say they want to take back our country from the foreign Obama, whom they have viewed from the start as an illegitimate leader.

For more, see Newt Nixon by Jerry Roberts, January 26, 2012 at Santa Barbara Independent.

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