Michael Tomasky: How Tricky Mitt Romney Is Aping Richard Nixon
Newsweek/Daily Beast special correspondent Michael Tomasky is also editor of Democracy: A Journal of Ideas.
Apparently, there will be no sweeping effort undertaken to humanize Mitt Romney at this week’s convention. He told USA Today that during the daytime sessions, there will be “a series of vignettes, so people who attend the convention will get to know me a little better,” but during primetime, when millions are watching, “we won’t be talking about my life.” It’s the right decision in the sense that there’s almost nothing about his life that’s the least bit emotionally compelling. But it’s also a telling one, because it means the campaign is basically going to be: Vote for me, I’m white, and I’m not a socialist....
We have had, in the modern era, just one truly unlikable president. Dick Nixon, of course. And it turns out that there are points of similarity between Romney’s and Nixon’s campaigns that aren’t instantly apparent but are worth fleshing out. The campaigns resemble each other in that both are built far more around negative than positive selling points. With Nixon, the argument went that you needed to elect him to preserve law and order, which he said was at risk of very survival if Humphrey won; to keep the blacks and the hippies and the pinkos at bay; and because he had a secret plan for quick victory with honor in Vietnam, which turned out to be so secret that he continued the war, even expanding it into Cambodia, for another seven years before we finally lost it....
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