I've made it through the first chapter of Rick Perlstein's The Invisible Bridge, the third of his four-book history of the modern conservative movement. (The first two were Before the Storm and Nixonland.) I'm already amazed at how much I had forgotten about what an evil, manipulative,
As someone said, in a quote from an article about Nixon's funeral that I still can't find, even in death, Nixon brings out the worst in us.
General Taylor had once been a favorite general of Kennedy-era liberals. Robert F. Kennedy had called him "relentless in his determination to get at the truth," and name one of his sons after him. Now Maxwell Taylor was a tribune of the other tribe, the one that found another lesson to be self-evident: never break faith with God's chosen nation, especially in time of war – truth be damned.
This was Richard Nixon's tribe. The one that, by Election Day 1980, would end up prevailing in the presidential election. Though Richard Nixon, like Moses, would not be the one who led them to the promised land.
And the amazing thing is, Nixon scarcely appears in that chapter. But his influence – the politics of resentment that he created and perfected – was lasting.
Update: On reflection, it's clear that it wasn't really fair to call Nixon sadistic. Sure, he liked to see his enemies suffer – I mean, who can make it to the Oval Office without feeling that way a little, amiright? – but it wasn't that he specifically did the things he did because he enjoyed seeing his enemies suffer. He just wanted them crushed, and if that could be done for the same price without suffering, that was fine. Dubya was the sadist. Everyone here at p3 regrets the error.