If the right people had been in charge of Nixon’s funeral, his casket would have been launched into one of those open-sewage canals that empty into the ocean just south of Los Angeles. He was a swine of a man and a jabbering dupe of a president. Nixon was so crooked that he needed servants to help him screw his pants on every morning. Even his funeral was illegal. He was queer in the deepest way. His body should have been burned in a trash bin.
These are harsh words for a man only recently canonized by President Clinton and my old friend George McGovern — but I have written worse things about Nixon, many times, and the record will show that I kicked him repeatedly long before he went down. I beat him like a mad dog with mange every time I got a chance, and I am proud of it. He was scum.
Let there be no mistake in the history books about that. Richard Nixon was an evil man — evil in a way that only those who believe in the physical reality of the Devil can understand it. He was utterly without ethics or morals or any bedrock sense of decency. Nobody trusted him — except maybe the Stalinist Chinese, and honest historians will remember him mainly as a rat who kept scrambling to get back on the ship.
Today would have been Richard M. Nixon’s 100th birthday, and today, one of the two major political parties in America is made in his bent image, rotten to the core and uninterested in that which it is elected to do: govern.
Republicans are certainly not attacking Rice simply because she is a black woman. But it is certainly likely that they are attacking her because she is a black woman, allied with a black man, who represents the party which black America believes is the best vehicle for its particular interests, and the broader interests of the country. In other words the question isn’t “Is Senator Lindsey Graham racist?” so much as it’s “Who does Senator Lindsey Graham represent?”
The answer is Graham represents a party whose candidate for the presidency believes black Obama voters are guilty of the sin of electoral bribery, while white Romney voters are simply guilty of loving their country too hard. Graham represents the party of birther claims and birther jokes; the party which thinks attempting to restrict the votes of black and brown people is good use of their resources. The notion that you can separate who Republicans target, from how their base tends to evaluate those targets is willfully naive.
It does not matter what dwells in Lindsey Graham’s heart. No one knows. The hard interests are what matter.
That’s kind of what Michael Hastings is implying at BuzzFeed — kind of would be putting it kindly, as Hastings’ last major piece meant the end of Gen. Stanley McChrystal’s career — and in the wake of a couple days of profiles and writing where Petraeus is lionized once again and Paula Broadwell gets slammed in ways that are way beyond the pale by people looking to protect themselves or their associations with the general, it’s worth asking the questions, both about Petraeus and journalists who lose the plot and become embedded.
Spencer Ackerman admits to his own complicity in the lionizing of Petraeus, and Andrew Sullivan reveals his interactions with the general at a salon he was invited to when he was still at the Atlantic.
By David Roher
In case you haven’t been hanging around the benighted corners of the political internet lately, there’s an idiotic backlash afoot against Nate Silver, the proprietor of the FiveThirtyEight blog who made his name as one of the sharpest baseball analysts around.
With the election just a few days away, analysis based on state poll aggregation—Silver’s included—suggests that Barack Obama is a heavy favorite against Mitt Romney. The president holds a slight but strong lead in key electoral states. This doesn’t sit well with many political pundits, who insist that the outcome is anyone’s guess and headed down to the wire. Many of these people have directed their anger toward Silver, whose New York Times-hosted blog has predicted a strong probability of an Obama victory since June. They insist he is biased or sloppy in his methodology, even though they seem unaware of how he makes his predictions and of statistical analysis in general. They say—and I’m not kidding—he’s too gay for this sort of work.
In retrospect, we should’ve seen it coming. It was only a matter of time before the war on expertise spilled over into the cells of Nate Silver’s spreadsheets. In fact, in some ways it had already. Turns out that nothing could have prepared Silver better for the slings and arrows of a surly and willfully obtuse pundit class than working on the fringes of sportswriting over the past decade.
This is fantastic. This is what happens when English, history, journalism, and poli sci majors (some with law degrees) try to take on math and don’t have the background to do it with any authority — it winds up revealing their own biases in favor of a tight race to ensure viewership and readership, and exposes our political press as it is: obsessed with campaigning instead of the actual goals or merits of policy. Comparing it to sportswriters’ reaction to PECOTA is pretty much spot on.
Foreign policy debates in America are particularly unedifying because neither major party candidate is willing to say anything to disabuse US citizens of the notion that our country is a shining city on a hill, a beacon, a moral exemplar of democracy, and an arbiter that should be “leading” the community of nations.
Thus, despite zingers and any other point made in support of my preferred of the two viable candidates for president, I remain inexorably disappointed in the fact that both men support a foreign policy that appears to rob other countries of their agency, as if the rest of the countries that made up those on earth did not have their own specific preferences.
American foreign policy debates are always about what we should be doing on the world stage to make our presence felt. Rarely, if ever, is it asked why we should be intervening in events thousands of miles away when they affect us not one bit. This is the debate that leads us into unfunded wars of choice, involvement in civil wars where we pick and choose the winners and hope they’re better than the people we want out, and blowback from people who get pissed off at the autocrats we wind up supporting over the decades because they’re our autocrats.
It is sadly ironic that a day after the passing of George McGovern, there is sentiment throughout the country that cries “Come home, America,” yet much of the policy practiced by its leaders mean we will be doing anything but, no matter which party is in power.
Every time, without fail, someone, whether it be an person at a town hall, a reporter, or a politician will ask why the president (no matter what said president’s party) hasn’t done more to bring down gas prices. It is irritating because very rarely is this simple, basic concept introduced afterward:
CRUDE OIL, WHICH IS NEEDED FOR GASOLINE, IS TRADED ON A GLOBAL MARKET. YOU HEAR ABOUT THE GLOBAL PRICE FOR A BARREL OF OIL EVERY WEEK ON BUSINESS REPORTS AND WHAT IT MEANS FOR GAS PRICES HERE — AND THEN DOUBLY SO WHEN WINTER ROLLS AROUND AND PEOPLE ARE TALKING ABOUT HEATING COSTS. SINCE THERE ARE MORE PEOPLE IN THE WORLD WHO NEED OIL-BASED ENERGY, PARTICULARLY IN QUICKLY-GROWING SECTORS OF ASIA AND EUROPE, ANY OIL DRILLING OR DEVELOPMENT DONE ON U.S. FEDERAL LANDS WOULD MOST LIKELY BE SENT TO AND TRADED ON THIS GLOBAL MARKETPLACE, PARTICULARLY BECAUSE MANY OF THE OIL COMPANIES DRILLING IN THE U.S. ARE GLOBAL COMPANIES. SINCE THE DEMAND FOR A FINITE RESOURCE IS NOT GOING DOWN ANY TIME SOON, IT STANDS TO REASON THAT WE WILL PROBABLY NOT SEE AVERAGE PRICES AT THE PUMP GO UNDER $2.50 AGAIN. THIS IS WHY WE TALK SO MUCH ABOUT HYBRIDS AND CARS THAT COULD GET HIGH 30S-40+ MPG, AND THIS IS WHY THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION IS DEMANDING AUTOMAKERS DOUBLE FUEL ECONOMY BY 2026 (or some year close to that): BECAUSE THERE AIN’T A THING AN AMERICAN PRESIDENT CAN DO TO REDUCE THE DEMAND FOR OIL-BASED ENERGY IN THE REST OF THE WORLD. HIGH GAS PRICE SUCK, I GET THAT, BUT TRY FILLING UP IN EUROPE SOMETIME. YEESH. INSTEAD OF ASKING HOW WE LOWER GAS PRICES (which we can’t, not really), IT’S BETTER TO ASK ABOUT DIFFERENT FORMS OF MASS TRANSIT AND CREATING THE NEW GENERATION OF VEHICLES THAT RUN ON LESS GASOLINE OR NONE AT ALL.
I feel like the caps lock is important here because the general concept of believing American presidents and their energy policy can actually have major control over a global market annoys me to no end.
We are entering a new period of important and hopeful change in America, a period comparable to those eras that unleashed such remarkable ferment in the period of Jefferson and Jackson and Roosevelt. Let the opposition collect their $10 million in secret money from the privileged few and let us find one million ordinary Americans who will contribute $25 each to this campaign, a Million Member Club with members who will not expect special favors for themselves but a better land for us all. In the literature and music of our children we are told, to everything there is a season and a time to every purpose under heaven. And for America, the time has come at last. This is the time for truth, not falsehood. In a Democratic nation, no one likes to say that his inspiration came from secret arrangements by closed doors, but in the sense that is how my candidacy began. I am here as your candidate tonight in large part because during four administrations of both parties, a terrible war has been chartered behind closed doors. I want those doors opened and I want that war closed. And I make these pledges above all others: the doors of government will be opened, and that war will be closed.
So let us give our — let us give your country the chance to elect a Government that will seek and speak the truth, for this is the time for the truth in the life of this country. And this is also a time, not for death, but for life. In 1968 many Americans thought they were voting to bring our sons home from Vietnam in peace, and since then 20,000 of our sons have come home in coffins. I have no secret plan for peace. I have a public plan. And as one whose heart has ached for the past ten years over the agony of Vietnam, I will halt a senseless bombing of Indochina on Inaugural Day. There will be no more Asian children running ablaze from bombed-out schools. There will be no more talk of bombing the dikes or the cities of the North. And within 90 days of my inauguration, every American soldier and every American prisoner will be out of the jungle and out of their cells and then home in America where they belong. And then let us resolve that never again will we send the precious young blood of this country to die trying to prop up a corrupt military dictatorship abroad.
We have had our fury and our frustrations in these past months and at this Convention, but frankly, I welcome the contrast with the smug and dull and empty event which will doubtless take place here in Miami next month. We chose this struggle, we reformed our Party, and we let the people in. So we stand today not as a collection of backroom strategies, not as a tool of ITT or any other special interest. So let our opponents stand on the status quo while we seek to refresh the American spirit. I believe that the greatest contribution America can now make to our fellow mortals is to heal our own great but very deeply troubled land. We must respond — we must respond to that ancient command: “Physician, heal thyself.”
From secrecy and deception in high places; come home, America. From military spending so wasteful that it weakens our nation; come home, America. From the entrenchment of special privileges in tax favoritism; from the waste of idle lands to the joy of useful labor; from the prejudice based on race and sex; from the loneliness of the aging poor and the despair of the neglected sick — come home, America. Come home to the affirmation that we have a dream. Come home to the conviction that we can move our country forward. Come home to the belief that we can seek a newer world, and let us be joyful in that homecoming, for this “is your land, this land is my land — from California to New York island, from the redwood forest to the gulf stream waters — this land was made for you and me.” So let us close on this note: May God grant each one of us the wisdom to cherish this good land and to meet the great challenge that beckons us home.
George McGovern, who espoused a beautifully coherent anti-war, pro-equality position in his acceptance speech of the Democratic presidential nomination in 1972; one that as Charlie Pierce put it, every member of his party has spent the last four decades shamefully running from. Now McGovern is in hospice care. This is the man who would have spared us the true mendacity and criminality of Richard Milhous Nixon that nearly destroyed our country, if only the people had known about it at the time.