A Little Historical Perspective …

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As pundits turn themselves inside-out over Harry Reid’s inartful comments about Barack Obama, yesterday’s release of another batch of Nixon papers gives us a little reminder of what truly racial politics looked like at a point in our not-so-distant history:

Among the materials is a strategy paper titled “Dividing the Democrats” found in the files of Nixon aide H. R. Haldeman, dated October 5, 1971.

The paper, signed only as being from “RESEARCH,” laid out perceived problems among Democrats that the GOP could use in helping Republican candidates, including Nixon, the incumbent president.

Among the tactics the document called for is the distribution of bumper stickers that “should be spread out in the ghettoes of the country” calling for “black presidential and especially vice presidential candidates.”

As part of trying to undercut the Democratic challenge to Nixon’s re-election, the paper said, “we should do what is within our power to have a black nominated for Number Two at least at the Democratic National Convention.”

Archivists who’ve been working with the Nixon materials believe the six-page paper was written by aide Patrick Buchanan.

That same Patrick Buchanan was on cable yesterday, and had this to say about the current flap:

“I don’t think there was an ounce of malice in what Harry Reid had said; what is he saying, he is saying that Barack Obama was an outstanding candidate (A.) because his mom is white and biracial and that he is more Harvard than Harlem. That is probably a political insight that is absolutely correct.” “these comments were not malicious they are blundering comments” and Harry Reid shouldn’t lose his job over this”