Rick Perlstein’s Nixonland came out in paperback last week, a month after his study of Barry Goldwater’s 1964 campaign, Before The Storm, was reissued by Nation Books. And, as it happens, the Claremont Institute’s website has just put up the review of Nixonland by columnist Michael Barone that appeared in the Winter 2008 issue of the Claremont Review of Books.
Barone has often written perceptively about RN – one thinks in particular of his long article about the Nixon years which US News and World Report published some years ago – and this review continues that tradition, with a very insightful comparison of FDR and RN’s political styles. Its concluding sentences raise an important point about the Nixon presidency that escaped many of the book’s reviewers:
[I]n policy terms Nixon had his successes. His China policy, denounced by every successful presidential candidate but one since his day, remains in place, a more important part of American policy than ever. Some of his leftward domestic policies do, too. But the major difference, perhaps, between Roosevelt and Nixon was that the people Roosevelt professed to hate were still willing to serve with him because they wanted America to win a war. The people Nixon sincerely hated wanted America to lose a war. And, as we have seen in the past few years, the descendants of the people Nixon sincerely despised still want America to lose a war. Rick Perlstein’s indictment of Nixon is an even harsher indictment of the people who cheered when he was brought down.