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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Are We Still Living in Nixonland?

My review of Rick Perlstein’s remarkable history of the period between LBJ’s 1964 landslide and Richard Nixon’s 1972 landslide, Nixonland, is finally available on the Washington Monthly site.
A chunk of my review debates the proposition that the politics of middle-class resentment of liberal “elites” and minorities epitomized by Nixon may be running out of gas; hence the title assigned by the editors: “The End of Resentment.” Given the ongoing conservative effort to demonize Barack Obama as an out-of-touch lefty elitist, and his wife as a black militant, I wish the title had included a question mark. But still, for anyone who remembers the Nixon Era at its peak, the contemporary drive to batten on cultural resentments has the feel of a nostalgic Broadway revival rather than a new and vibrant production. One small but significant bit of evidence of the changing mood which I only mentioned in passing in the review is that the recent abuses at Gitmo and Abu Ghraib have been generally condemned, while the far more shocking My Lai massacre of the Vietnam Era made one of its chief perpetrators, Lt. William Calley, a popular hero feted at mass “Rallies for Calley,” particularly in my home state of Georgia.
We’ll learn soon enough the extent to which we are still living in Nixonland. But in the meantime, if you haven’t read Perlstein’s book, you really should. Its length will be daunting to some, but it’s more than worth the effort.

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