Mr. Trump, You’re No Richard Nixon

Roundup
tags: election 2016, Nixon, Trump, GOP Convention



Rick Perlstein is a historian and the author of "Nixonland" and "The Invisible Bridge."

I never thought I would say this, but: poor Richard Nixon. Last week, Donald Trump’s campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, raised eyebrows when he promised last night’s acceptance speech would be based on Nixon’s in 1968: no “happy talk” about unity, just a Nixon-like response to the “angst” abroad in the land over the Nixonian issue of law-and-order. “If you go back and read,” Manafort said, “that speech is pretty much on line with a lot of the issues that are going on today.”

Well, last night I sat in person through the whole damned 77-minute hot mess, and I’m here to say: Mr. Trump, I’ve studied Richard Nixon. And you’re no Richard Nixon.

Nixon’s little finger, of course, was more interesting and complex than Trump’s entire being. In my book NixonlandI describe how the tacking between uplifting rhetoric and snarling rhetoric, between the “old Nixon” who slashed and burned and the “new Nixon,” when he reinvented himself in the image of America’s hopes instead of its fears, was the systole and diastole of Nixon’s political heartbeat. 

That 1968 speech was classic “new Nixon.” Manafort might have heard echoes of a Trumpian vision in its most famous, and best-remembered section ...




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