From Rick Perlstein’s Nixonland, p. 58-59:
The press had recently become Nixon’s enemy of first resort. Later generations would remember the media’s relationship to Nixon as he had wanted people to remember it: as implacably hostile from the beginning. Not so. The Los Angeles Times had supported him back when he was an unknown. His working relationship with Bert Andrews of the New York Herald Tribune on the Hiss case helped make him a national figure. Even after the Checkers Speech, coverage of Nixon was quite balanced. Balance was the fourth estate’s religion. They were even, sometimes, unbalanced in his favor. In 1960, for example, the two most powerful magazines in the country, Henry Luce’s Time and Life, were practically Nixon megaphones.
But he was the sort to spy betrayal even in the midst of affection.
So I had a chance to read Palin’s speech this morning, and I have to say that I found it surprising for even me. As someone who used to travel in Republican circles and gleefully spread the bullshit (you can check the damning archives for your own self) when I thought I was on the “right” side of issues, and who has now come to loathe everything about the modern Republican party, even I was taken aback by the cynicism of the speech. It was cynical on so many levels, and when the cynicism took momentary pauses, bitterness, sarcasm, and condescension took over.
Whether it was the flat out lies about the bridge to nowhere (such contempt for the audience, to brazenly repeat this after days of her actual position on the bridge out there for all to see), or the distortion of Obama’s record (the no major legislation nonsense), or just the nasty lines dismissing community organizers (and yes, they are trying to Ghettoize the term), I can’t help but wonder if this is really the face of the future for the GOP. This is what they want to portray? How could they be so foolish as to confuse contempt for toughness? How could they be so tone deaf as to load up an unknown’s introductory speech with lines that appear to have been stolen from Ann Coulter? This was really the best way to introduce Sarah Palin to the country? Through this churlish stemwinder? Do they really think that what middle America really wants is a schoolyard bully in a skirt? And why did they downplay her ultra-right Christian conservative “values?” Why was that not in the speech more prominently?
I suppose it will thrill the dead-enders in the blogosphere and shore up the base, but I simply can not see how it is going to play well to the independents and undecideds. America learned not one thing about Sarah Palin last night other than that she is a willing foot soldier for more of the same. There was no way forward. There was no sense of understanding of the challenges. There were no solutions. There was only divisiveness, nastiness, and sneering, which somehow is acceptable because it was delivered by someone in a dress (“See how tough she is!” they will all exclaim). Thank goodness the McCain campaign chose this path, because Palin could have been an effective weapon with the right message. Now, with their own words that they wrote for her, they have turned her into more of the same. While I am disgusted with them, I am also relieved that this is the path they have chosen. This will be rejected by the American public.
Again, I ask, this is the face of the GOP future? Thank goodness I got out when I did. The only thing missing from last night was a mention of the nattering nabobs of negativism. We have been down this road before as a country. It is a dead end.