martes, 24 de enero de 2012

¿Gingrich '12 = Nixon '68?

Time:
Like every other living Republican (and more than a few living Democrats), Gingrich longs to be seen as the heir to Ronald Reagan. That’s understandable. Reagan is the Republican FDR, an exemplar of presidential greatness. You could play a rather serious drinking game during GOP debates if you took a shot at every evocation of Reagan. Beginning with his ads in New Hampshire contrasting himself as a “bold Reagan conservative” and Romney as a “Massachusetts moderate,” Gingrich has taken the Reagan strategy the furthest.

For all of this, though, Gingrich has much more in common with the 37th President than with the 40th. His language and even some of his mannerisms (remember the glower) directly descend from the Nixon of 1968.

The analogous elements are obvious. Like Nixon, Gingrich is smart, with a wide-ranging and entrepreneurial mind. Like Nixon, Gingrich is a striver who seems insecure around traditional establishment figures even though he has achieved much more than nearly all the politicians, editors and reporters he seems to at once loathe and fear. Like Nixon, Gingrich is fluent in the vernacular of cultural populism, brilliantly casting contemporary American life in terms of an overarching conflict between “real” people and distant “elites” bent on the destruction of all that is good and noble about the U.S.

His win in South Carolina on Saturday, Gingrich said, was about “something very fundamental that I wish the powers that be in the news media will take seriously: the American people feel that they have elites who have been trying for a half-century to force us to quit being American and become some kind of other system.”

Nixon was a genius at this kind of politics, speaking up, as he put it in accepting the Republican nomination in Miami in 1968, for “the forgotten Americans, the non-shouters, the non-demonstrators.” In his epochal memorandum on “Middle America and the Emerging Republican Majority,” Nixon political strategist Kevin Phillips spoke of the resentments “the great, ordinary, Lawrence Welkish mass of Americans from Maine to Hawaii” felt against the liberal elites who “make their money out of plans, ideas, communication, social upheaval, happenings, excitement,” according to Nixonland by Rick Perlstein. In recently released grand-jury testimony from 1975, Nixon told prosecutors that attacking him “is going to make you much more popular with the Washington press corps, with the Georgetown social set, if you ever go to Georgetown, with the power elite in this country.”

What is interesting about Gingrich is that his instincts for cultural division are leavened with a futuristic sense of possibility and progress that has something in common with Bill Clinton’s cheery politics of tomorrow. These marbled elements, I think, help account for Gingrich’s unevenness as a candidate and as an incumbent back in the day.

The question now is how far the Nixonian strategy can take Gingrich, who will doubtless continue to invoke the sunnier Reagan while using tactics learned from the darker Nixon. For most candidates, the kind of anger Gingrich is stirring is a good starter but not a good finisher — yet there is another element of the 2012 story with antecedents in 1968 that has yet to play out. “Watching George Romney [father of Mitt Romney] run for the presidency,” said Governor James Rhodes of Ohio, “was like watching a duck try to make love to a football.” I’m not entirely sure what that means, except that the bid was an undertaking that did not work. We’ll soon see whether there is anything new under the (Florida) sun.

4 comentarios:

JH dijo...

¿Se recuerda algún caso en el que unas primarias arrancasen con un favorito claro, una vez comenzadas surgiese inesperadamente otro candidato potente, pero al final el favorito del principio se llevase la nominación?

Antxon Garrogerrikabeitia dijo...

Dukakis, por ejemplo. Aunque depende de lo potente que podemos considerar a Jesse Jackson. Gingrich es más potente, desde luego. Lo de Jackson sería como si Ron paul hubiese surgido este año hasta situarse como front-runner. Steve Kornacki escribió sobre esa posibilidad hace un mes. Ya parece descartado.

Pasó con Mondale y hart también. Mondale empieza muy fuerte en Iowa y pierde inesperadamente en NH. Pero es distinto. Gana un caucus y pierde en la priemra primaria cotnra el candidato que quedó segundo en el caucus.

En este caso, Romney lo hace muy bien en IOWA y NH, y en SC es derrotado claramente por un candidato que quedó cuarto en Iowa y quinto en NH. La cosa es bastante extraordinaria.

Anónimo dijo...

El articulo de Time habla del Nixon del 68 pero el Nixon anterior pactó con Rockefeller (que representaba al establishment) y por eso el conservadurismo insurgente le pasó factura y de ahí nació el triunfo de Goldwater en la candidatura del 64. Quiza la situación actual pueda parecerse mas a ese 64 cuando Goldwater con una victoria sorpresa en la primaria de California sorprendió al establishment (Rockefeller) y cerró su nominación. Si Gingrich gana en Florida podemos estar ante una situación similar (Romney presenta ciertos alarmantes paralelismos con Rockefeller).

Rockford.

Antxon Garrogerrikabeitia dijo...

La candidatura de Romney 12 tiene poco que ver con la de Rockefeller 64. El programa de Romney es mucho más conservador que la de ningún candidato que el GOP haya nominado en 25 años.

Parece que algunos no recuerdan que Bush hace una década se presentó prometiendo una reforma educativa apoyada por Ted Kennedy, una reforma migratoria con un programa de trabajadores temporales, una expansión del programa de prescripción de medicamentos para jubilados, y no sigo. Sin embargo contó con el favor de los conservadores porque ejecutó a cientos de personas en Texas y pasaba el tiempo libre limpiando maleza en su rancho en lugar de leyendo el periódico en una casa al laod de un lago de Nueva Inglaterra.

Todo es cuestión de percepción.

Gingrich trabajó para la campaña de Rockefeller en el 68, y tiene un historial bastante pragmático. No es Goldwater. Es más bien un insider maltratado y algo incomprendido por sus colegas, que tiene talento para la demagogia y la invectiva (y no lo digo despectivamente, creo que son cualidades útiles), y que sabe utilizar el populismo contra las élites. Y de ahí la comparación con Nixon.