There’s an incorrect premising underlying all the blather about Obama “Nixon-fying” the White House, namely that Nixon somehow failed politically. Yes, Nixon ended up having to resign, yes, the Republicans did badly at the polls in 1974. But it’s worth remembering that when Nixon got into office in 1968, Republicans had held the White House for
any only eight of the previous 36 years (and those eight were Eisenhower, who wasn’t much of a Republican). Between 1968 and 2008, they would hold it for 28 out of 40 years. And this isn’t just post Nixon, ergo propter Nixon reasoning: Republican political success rested largely on gains made among white southerners and non-college educated whites, two groups that Nixon explicitly targeted with the Southern strategy and the politics of class resentment (I recommend reading Steve Pearlstein Rick Perlstein’s “Nixonland” on this topic).
Nixon won, ultimately. And anyone who sees the way the press cowers before Fox News today (and cowered even more cravenly before Dubya until 2005) knows that the press lost.
It’s great that Woodward and Bernstein took Nixon down. But it was a Pyrrhic victory. If the same kind of report came out about a Republican president today, Fox would be calling the report communism and Halperin and Politico would be spinning the whole thing as great news for Republicans.
The media likes the idea that Nixonian politics were proved a failure when Nixon was driven out of office. But it’s simply not true.
None of this is to say that what the Obama administration is doing with Fox is actually Nixonian. The comparison only makes sense if you equate Beck and Hannity with Woodward and Bernstein.
But the idea that you can show something is a bad political strategy by calling it Nixonian is just silly.