June 13, 2008
Left of McGovern versus right of Nixon?
I just read a report that not all Democrats are endorsing Barack Obama, and I was reminded of an interesting topic I heard discussed on Hugh Hewitt's radio show -- is Obama to the left of McGovern? The consensus was that he is, and by any objective standard I think that is so, as Obama is more of a socialist (and more of a pacifist) than McGovern.
Now, you could say that times have changed, and I'm sure a lot of people think the entire spectrum has shifted leftward -- especially considering that some conservative Republicans are refusing to endorse McCain.
Still, the Obama-McGovern contrast forced me to ask an analogous question -- is McCain to the right of Nixon?
Anyone remember Richard Nixon's wage and price controls?
Of Richard Nixon's vast repertoire of domestic assaults on liberty and the free market, price controls on oil were among his most evil and destructive. In the midst of economic stagnation surely related to his guns and butter, inflationism, devaluation of the dollar and his closing of the gold window, the Republican called down from on high and decreed that the laws of supply and demand be repealed. The feds were unleashed to regiment prices and wages throughout the land, with no more respect for economic freedom and reality than was displayed by FDR's National Recovery Administrators. Most of Tricky Dick's price and wage controls were scrapped within a few years, after the shortages and other chaos they caused became too obvious to ignore, but central planning of oil and natural gas prices continued, failing to solve the problem and even inspiring schemes for rationing, until 1981 when President Reagan, in an act of sensibility anomalous for his administration, expedited the decontrol of oil prices as planned by President Carter. Prices fell dramatically for several years, and the economy boomed accordingly.I'd say McCain is to the right of Nixon economically.
As to the environment, Nixon started the EPA (long hated by many libertarians and conservatives).
While a supporter of the "war on drugs," he nonetheless instituted a legal Methadone program:
whatever his other faults, Nixon put the drug money he got for his war in the right places: treatment and methadone maintenance. Addicts who had been unable to secure treatment started having their needs met. Heroin was decoupled from crime by methadone, which doesn't get you high but keeps you from needing heroin. Suddenly the drug problem was going into remission.And while he said he was against "abortion on demand," he appointed Harry Blackmun (the author of Roe v. Wade) to the Supreme Court, along with Lewis Powell (a moderate).
Nixon led America out of a dismal decade and was rewarded with a 49-state landslide. By one estimate, he carried 18 percent of the black vote in 1972 and 25 percent in the South. No Republican has since matched that. To see Kristol colluding with the Times to rewrite that history to make liberals heroes and Republicans villains tells us more about him than about the era.In office, Nixon also championed "black capitalism," and he was probably the most popular Republican president with the black community that I have seen in my lifetime.
Oh, and of course he ended the draft (which caused attendance at demonstrations to dry up to nearly nothing), started the all-volunteer Army, ended the hated Vietnam War, and made overtures to Red China which led directly to our huge current relationship.
This is not meant to be a comprehensive political essay; just a few irony-based observations that people who think the entire country has necessarily shifted leftward might want to ponder....
posted by Eric on 06.13.08 at 07:19 AM
Search the Site
Classics To Go
See more archives here
Old (Blogspot) archives
A knee sock jihad might be premature at this time
People Are Not Rational
No Biorobots For Japan
The Thorium Solution
Radiation Detector From A Digital Camera
This war of attrition is driving me bananas!
Attacking Christianity is one thing, but must they butcher geometry?
Are there trashy distinctions in freedom of expression?
Please Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood