web analytics
December 29, 2014 / 7 Tevet, 5775
 
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post
8000 meals Celebrate Eight Days of Chanukah – With 8,000 Free Meals Daily to Israel’s Poor

Join Meir Panim’s campaign to “light up” Chanukah for families in need.



Home » InDepth » Monitor »

A Visit To Nixonland


Media-Monitor-logo

Rick Perlstein, an unabashed man of the left, first attracted wide notice seven years ago with the release of Before the Storm: Barry Goldwater and the Unmaking of the American Consensus, his engagingly written and fair-minded study of the rise of the American conservative movement in the 1950’s and 1960’s.

Last month brought the much-awaited publication of the second volume of Perlstein’s projected trilogy on American conservatism. Nixonland (Scribner), as should be obvious from the title, focuses on American politics from the mid-1960’s to the early 1970’s, a time and an era dominated by Richard Nixon.

The Monitor asked Perlstein about the book and his perception of Nixon.

Monitor: Were you more sympathetic to Nixon or less so after writing the book?

Perlstein: Here I have to exercise the intellectual’s classic cop-out and say: both. We all know about Nixon’s reputation for iniquity. I kept finding myself yet more astonished at how bottomless this quality in him truly was. The example I keep coming back to is the revelation by Leonard Garment, in his 1997 memoir Crazy Rhythm, that as early as 1966 Nixon didn’t believe the Vietnam War could be won militarily – even as, for the next seven years, he ruthlessly savaged any political opponent who dared say the same thing, even as 50,000 more American soldiers went to their deaths for this war he thought couldn’t be won.

But on the other hand, there was rarely a week that went by when I didn’t discover some hidden store of nobility in the man – in his courage, coolness under pressure, and especially, his refusal to back down under adversity.

My favorite example is his famous visit [as vice president] to Peru in 1958. He was set upon by a mob chanting calls for his death. What did he do? He waded into the mob, and managed to talk them down! Later on the same trip, the mob wielded stones, and attacked his limousine. Secret Service agents were ready to fire, but Nixon ordered them to holster their weapons, realizing that shots would only make the chaos worse.

As I point out in the book, that’s “the kind of presence of mind for which battlefield commanders win medals.” Not a bad quality for a commander-in-chief – until, that is, that same quality was turned to iniquity, as it so often was.

A few reviewers, while praising the book, were surprised that you neglected to look at the growth of conservatism as an intellectual force in the 1960’s.

It wasn’t intentional. The conservative movement, both intellectually and politically, formed the core of my first book. It drops out of the story in Nixonland. That’s because Nixon was such a commanding presence in the Republican Party – much more a classic “great man” than Goldwater ever was – that he sucked the oxygen out of any other contender for its institutional control, whether conservative, liberal, or whatever.

I treat conservative Republicans, in the book, as Nixon did – just another constituency to be managed, neutralized, and bent to his will. They’ll be back, though, in volume III, which will focus on the rise of Ronald Reagan.

What do you make of Nixon’s strong support of Israel – James Rosen in his new biography of Nixon’s attorney general John Mitchell notes that “Nixon may have been the first presidential candidate [in 1968] to call for the U.S. to guarantee Israeli military superiority” – and his appointment of several key Jewish advisers, given what we know of his anti-Semitic feelings?

Nixon’s presidency was driven, of course, by an abiding obsession with foreign policy – by the dream of re-ordering the world into a more stable system of alliances that transcended the simple Cold War categories of good and evil. He was very unsentimental about this; to take one particularly disturbing example, he decided to look the other way in 1971 as Pakistan’s dictator General Yahya Khan perpetrated a genocide in Bangladesh, because Kahn was Nixon’s crucial go-between with China. I’m certain he saw Israel as just another chess piece in this grand geo-strategic game.

About the Author: Jason Maoz is the Senior Editor of The Jewish Press.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “A Visit To Nixonland”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
IDF soldiers on patrol in Samaria.
IDF Confronts Terrorists on Two Fronts; One Rock-Thrower Killed
Latest Indepth Stories
Middle-East-map

Is not Israel’s policy of “territory for peace” with Arab leaders criminally irresponsible?

Israel Palestine Flag

Israel must develop it’s truthful message to be as clear & simple to comprehend as the Arab’s lies

School of Athens by Raphael (Aristotle on right holding his work, "Ethics")

2 basic aspects of Aristotelian thought remarkably like Jewish thought: “Involvement” & “Purpose”

Ben-Tsvi-122614

“Farming still allows some unique opportunities for mitzvah fulfillment that a city dweller never meets.”

It shakes our sense of justice when allegations against a famed role model are covered up or ignored

Feiglin: Only true liberty will allow us to genuinely connect to our Jewish identity.

The silver lining with early elections is the chance to change the current dysfunctional government.

The Holocaust Educational Trust Ireland informed the host he could not say “Israel or Jewish state”

It’s fascinating how sources attain the status “traditional,” or its equivalent level of kashrus.

The West needs to ensure Russia understands that aggression comes at a significant cost.

What benefit is a learning experience that leaves kids confused,disillusioned&harms self confidence?

Girlfriend and double cop-killer Ismaaiyl Brinsley apparently was influenced by Islamic extremism.

We see pictures of mosques, monuments for terrorists, illegal schools, and hundreds of apartments being built on Jewish land without repercussions. We are losing Jewish property, so it is up to us to protect it.

Thus, despite the increasingly serious problems for the mayor arising out of the current anti-police protests, Mr. de Blasio apparently will be cut no slack by those who seem to be aiming for a significant role in running the city from the streets and who will do whatever they can to prevent their momentum from ebbing.

Also left unsaid was the fact that the menorah and its oil were in the Beit HaMikdash, which of course was located on Har HaBayit – the Temple Mount that present-day Muslims claim as their own.

More Articles from Jason Maoz
Comptroller DiNapoli celebrates Sukkot with Crown Heights Jewish community leaders at the sukkah of Rabbi Chanina Sperlin of the Crown Heights Jewish Community Council.

The New York State comptroller manages the state’s $180.7 billion pension fund, audits the spending practices of all state agencies and local governments, oversees the New York State and Local Retirement System, reviews the New York State and City budgets, and approves billions in State contracts and spending.

Front-Page-102414

While not all criticism of Israel stemmed from anti-Semitism, Podhoretz contends the level of animosity towards Israel rises exponentially the farther left one moved along the spectrum.

When you grow up in a home where your parents went through what my parents went through, you realize that life has to be meaningful. You have to be there for other people.

“It’s a lousy column and a dishonest one,” Halberstam wrote. “So close it. Or you will end up just as shabby as Safire.”

Wye would be seen to have set the groundwork for the creation of a Palestinian state

These are not necessarily the best all-around biographies or studies of the individual presidents listed (though some rank right up there), but the strongest in terms of exploring presidential attitudes and policies toward Israel.

The Clintonan “engagement” liberals remember with such fondness did nothing but embolden Arafat and Hamas and Hizbullah as they witnessed Israel’s only real ally elevate process ahead of policy.

What really makes one wonder about the affinity felt by certain Jews for Grant was the welcome mat he put out for some of the country’s most pernicious anti-Semites.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/media-monitor/a-visit-to-nixonland/2008/06/25/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: