John Oliver’s beatdown of DaVita reminds us: Richard Nixon was an American liberal icon

Noam Chomsky, of all people, has called Tricky Dick “America’s last liberal president.” Sadly, he couldn’t have been more right.

Way back in 2008 I said this:

If he were a candidate in the 2008 presidential election, Richard M. Nixon would be more progressive than either the Republican or Democratic nominees.

What a ludicrous thing to say, right? I mean, Nixon was as twisted and corrupt as any president in US history. Hunter Thompson said “Nixon was so crooked that he needed servants to help him screw his pants on every morning.” He got caught with said pants down in l’affaire Watergate and had to resign. He’s the reason anything remotely scandalous has to have a name ending in “-gate.”

Worst. President. Ever. A fixer of the first order. All of which attached, by association, to the Republican Party, making his name synonymous with the rank evil of the American conservative polity.

That he was congenitally shady is unarguable, but the conservative part probably isn’t fair at all. Continue reading

Frost/Nixon: The rehabilitation of Tricky Dick and what it says about the soul of modern America

My colleague Michael Sheehan recent offered a tip of the cap to a local staging of Frost/Nixon, which starred our old friend Stuart O’Steen. If anything, Mike was understated in his praise of the show and O’Steen’s performance. Anytime the big-city Denver Post says nice things about a community theater production up in the hinterlands of Longmont you know something special is afoot.

After the show, as we waited for a chance to congratulate the cast, my companions and I found ourselves discussing a topic that has come to intrigue me a great deal: the curious rehabilitation of Richard Nixon. Continue reading

Don't eat the brown acid: trying to make sense of Richard Nixon and the Tea Party

In a recent post, Sammy made the insightful argument that Richard Nixon was our last liberal president. You could make an equally good case that he was also simultaneously our first Tea Party president. That the twisted labyrinthine soul of Dick Nixon was a scale model of the schizophrenic society we have now become.

And the real question is: Did Dick make us what we are today, or was he simply a portent of a future we now live in, or perhaps even worse, was he somehow a political version of the Terminator, a creature sent back into the past to shape that future, now our current world?

I know what you’re thinking. “Brother, don’t eat the brown acid. I repeat, don’t eat the brown acid.” Don’t worry. I am sitting comfortably in room 925 at the Westin in Wheeling, Illinois, straight and sober. The brown acid, what’s left of it, is stashed in the back of the freezer of the editor that let Dick Cheney have the front page of USA Today to flog his sorry book. So hang with me here. Continue reading

What America needs now is Tricky Dick Nixon (no, I'm not joking)

Let me give you a definition of the word ‘liberal.’…Franklin D. Roosevelt once said…It is a wonderful definition, and I agree with him. ‘A liberal is a man who wants to build bridges over the chasms that separate humanity from a better life.’ – Richard Milhous Nixon

Richard Nixon was our last liberal president. – Noam Chomsky

Democrats to Progressives: We're just not that into you

not_that_into_youA modest proposal, perhaps.

It’s been entertaining watching American public “discourse” since the election. (I use that word in its broadest, most ridiculous sense, since nothing that hinges so completely on self-absorption, rank ignorance and pathological dishonesty can be accurately characterized by such a noble word. But indulge me. I’ve been working on my irony lately.)

On the one hand you have conservatives fainting dead away that we’re now in the clutches of a “socialist” president. Never mind that these folks wouldn’t know a real socialist if he was gnawing their balls off. Never mind that most of these folks think “socialist” is the French word for Negro. Never mind that Obama demonstrably is to socialism what Joe the Plumber is to brie-sucking Northeastern intellectualism. As arch-conservative TV pundit Stephen Colbert says, “this is a fact-free zone.”

On the other you have the righteous outrage of the progressosphere, which feels six different kinds of betrayed by a president who promised them the moon and stars and has now left them to what looks like at least a four-year walk of shame. If I might borrow from an old fraternity joke, imagine the following scene from the Oval Office: Continue reading

A progressive for our times

Let’s say this guy was running for president on a third-party ticket:

  • proven track record for getting country out of wars
  • strong foreign policy diplomat who forged stronger relationships with powerful developing (and enemy) nations
  • implemented the first significant federal affirmative action program
  • dramatically increased spending on federal employee salaries
  • organized a daily press event and daily message for the media
  • oversaw first large-scale integration of public schools in the South
  • advocated comprehensive national health insurance for all Americans Continue reading