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Why Newt Gingrich Is Like Richard Nixon

January 24, 2012

From one of my favorites, Jon Meacham.

The analogous elements are obvious. Like Nixon, Gingrich is smart, with a wide-ranging and entrepreneurial mind. Like Nixon, Gingrich is a striver who seems insecure around traditional establishment figures even though he has achieved much more than nearly all the politicians, editors and reporters he seems to at once loathe and fear. Like Nixon, Gingrich is fluent in the vernacular of cultural populism, brilliantly casting contemporary American life in terms of an overarching conflict between “real” people and distant “elites” bent on the destruction of all that is good and noble about the U.S.

Nixon was a genius at this kind of politics, speaking up, as he put it in accepting the Republican nomination in Miami in 1968, for “the forgotten Americans, the non-shouters, the non-demonstrators.” In his epochal memorandum on “Middle America and the Emerging Republican Majority,” Nixon political strategist Kevin Phillips spoke of the resentments “the great, ordinary, Lawrence Welkish mass of Americans from Maine to Hawaii” felt against the liberal elites who “make their money out of plans, ideas, communication, social upheaval, happenings, excitement,” according to Nixonland by Rick Perlstein. In recently released grand-jury testimony from 1975, Nixon told prosecutors that attacking him “is going to make you much more popular with the Washington press corps, with the Georgetown social set, if you ever go to Georgetown, with the power elite in this country.”

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