Following a period in which some liberals claimed that Dubya’s misdeeds made them wish Richard Nixon were still in the White House, this year has seen the resurgence of the customary derogation of our 37th president. For example, horror novelist Stephen King, speaking recently to Salon.com, remarked that his recent reading of Rick Perlstein’s Nixonland had brought to mind many parallels between RN’s 1968 campaign and Sen. John McCain’s current one. I haven’t yet seen a post pointing out the ominous fact that Ohio, the home of Joe the Plumber, was also the place where RN saw the “Bring Us Together” sign that helped inspire the “Silent Majority” speech, but I feel reasonably sure some left-leaning blogger has drawn that connection.
The latest proof that RN can cause liberals to think and say the darndest things was manifested this week. Rep. Don Young has been Alaska’s at-large congressman since 1973 when he was elected to fill the seat left vacant when Rep. Nick Begich disappeared in a plane over the state’s wilderness. (Begich’s son Mark is now challenging the embattled Sen. Ted Stevens.) He is an unabashed apostle of the earmark, and strongly supported the “Bridge To Nowhere.” Although the Wall Street Journal reported last year that Young was under Federal investigation for bribery, he has been charged with no crime and, despite winning this year’s GOP primary by just 300 votes,appears fairly likely to achieve re-election.
This week, the Anchorage Daily News published an article on the reaction of various lawmakers to Stevens’ conviction for filing false financial disclosure forms. Young unhestitatingly expressed his belief that the charges against his colleague were “trumped up” and continued:
I can remember Richard Nixon, you know, his years of service, what he’s done. And everybody was ridiculing him and he ended up being the greatest President in the history of our century.
This remark has gotten considerable response from bloggers, including Swing State Project’s flabbergasted amazement that Young could set RN “Above Kennedy? Above Eisenhower? Above Truman? Above (gasp)….Reagan?” A number of other bloggers have cited other twentieth-century presidents in this context – Wilson, FDR, Johnson – and nearly all have mentioned the Gipper as well. Which goes to show that the surest way to get liberals to start speaking of Reagan’s virtues, instead of decrying Gov. Sarah Palin’s frequent references to him, is to say something nice about Nixon.