As part of Swampland’s week-long homage to Richard Nixon’s centennial, here’s the moment from November 1973 when Nixon defended his record in the Watergate case by declaring, “I am not a crook.” Nixon engaged in an hour-long question and answer session on prime-time before 400 Associated Press managing editors at their conference in Orlando. You know the rest of the story. Courtesy of ABC:
“From Day One, Nixon and I talked about creating a new majority,” Buchanan told me recently, sitting in the library of his Greek-revival house in McLean, Virginia, on a secluded lane bordering the fenced grounds of the Central Intelligence Agency. “What we talked about, basically, was shearing off huge segments of F.D.R.’s New Deal coalition, which L.B.J. had held together: Northern Catholic ethnics and Southern Protestant conservatives—what we called the Daley-Rizzo Democrats in the North and, frankly, the Wallace Democrats in the South.” Buchanan grew up in Washington, D.C., among the first group—men like his father, an accountant and a father of nine, who had supported Roosevelt but also revered Joseph McCarthy. The Southerners were the kind of men whom Nixon whipped into a frenzy one night in the fall of 1966, at the Wade Hampton Hotel, in Columbia, South Carolina. Nixon, who was then a partner in a New York law firm, had travelled there with Buchanan on behalf of Republican congressional candidates. Buchanan recalls that the room was full of sweat, cigar smoke, and rage; the rhetoric, which was about patriotism and law and order, “burned the paint off the walls.” As they left the hotel, Nixon said, “This is the future of this Party, right here in the South.”
Read more: http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2008/05/26/080526fa_fact_packer#ixzz2HULM43ZZ
I remember seeing President Nixon in person in 1972 (back when I was a li'l tyke...)
(If I'm excused from being diplomatic, anyway, that's what I'll say. That's my story and I'm sticking to it...)
The other thing Nixon did was begin the process of dividing the country. "Cut the Democratic Party and country in half" said Nixon aid Pat Buchanan, "and my view is that we would have far the larger half." The policy was referred to as "positive polarization." You can actually see the divisions if you look at this map:
If you read Nixon's intellectual Kevin Phillips' *Emerging Republican Majority*, he actually refers to the cultural groups implied by Woodard's map: Scots-Irish Appalachians, Deep South Dixiecrats, Yankee and New York "elites", etc. Later, Phillips was horrified by how this turned out:
The hotheads and religious fundamentalists living in the Border South and South who were originally were so useful to Phillips, he later realized were the electorate that the Neoconservatives loved so much, that today tend to be the deny-science, first-to-go-to-war crowd, etc. ...
That was just an amazing time to witness. It seemed like every day there was a new revelation that made us forget the previous day's revelation. Death by a thousand cuts.
The perfect summary of Richard Nixon's leadership style, which he basically invented for the republican party:
If the press is your enemy and the "Lawrence Welkish mass" is your base, certain odd tactics make more sense. Lying, for instance. Or at least being very loose with the truth, even when you know you'll be caught. Because who's catching you? The Franklins is who. "Let them pounce on your 'mistake,' " Perlstein writes, "then garner pity as you wriggle free by making the enemy look unduly aggressive. Then you inspire a strange sort of protective love among voters whose wounds of resentment grow alongside your performance of being wounded. Your enemies appear to die of their own hand, never of your own. Which makes you stronger."
They've been using the same strategy ever since...