From a review of Rick Perlstein’s Nixonland by Alexander Cockburn:

… considerations of political economy are alien to Perlstein. The political mission of Nixonland is pretty clearly to set the stage for a candidate of liberal consensus and healing, who has since happily materialized in Barack Obama. It goes without saying that if the Illinois senator were actually to propose altering the distribution of income and wealth in America, the heavy artillery would come out against such ‘divisive’ rabble-rousing. Yet consensus—the wrong kind, naturally—has come through the fires of divisiveness. In late September, after an avalanche of phone calls to Congress had denounced Treasury Secretary Paulson’s planned $700 billion bailout at a rate of 99 to 1, the Republicans in the House of Representatives, along with 95 mutinous Democrats, rejected the plan—controverting the injunctions of both the Republican and the Democratic candidates. Both McCain and Obama—the latter heavily freighted with Wall Street advisers and campaign contributions—supported the bankers’ coup, consummated in Congress on October 4. Invoking bipartisanship, Obama declared that he would have to delay envisaged social spending programmes, and emphatically nixed suggestions that he use the moment of maximum negotiating leverage before the Senate vote to insist on regulatory reform, or relief for beleaguered homeowners rather than banks.

Progressives, perennially on the alert for the arrival of Stormtroopers on Main Street, have seized on Governor Sarah Palin as Nixonland’s new suzerain, distracting themselves from the unpleasant reality that it was the Democrats and their ticket that pushed through the bail-out. The us Treasury will now superintend a wave of foreclosures and evictions, amid the landscapes that nourished the young Nixon. Fertile opportunity lies ahead for right-wing populism. Perhaps the Boudicca of the Backwoods will be reborn in years to come as America’s echo of Poujade.

Read the whole article here

via 3 quarks daily

Legacy of the ’60s

Another view on Rick Perlstein’s Nixonland from Lane Kenworthy at Consider the Evidence:

Is Perlstein right about what happened during these years? Did America harden into two warring camps? I think an argument can be made that something very different occurred: the developments of the 1960s coupled with (and accentuated by) Nixon’s political tactics opened up new fissures that left the political landscape not more crystallized, but more clouded. Instead of shifting from (more or less) one America to two, the shift was, arguably, toward a greater multiplicity of political identities that the two political parties had to struggle mightily to try to shape into manageable coalitions. 

After the New Deal, economic policy was the chief fault line between Democrats and Republicans. The political legacy of the 1960s is the diminution of one incongruous aspect of American party politics, the Democrats’ dominance in the conservative south, but simultaneously the growing importance of issues that cut across the economic divide …

[more here]