The Republicans of 2008 tried to sell us Ronald Reagan, but switched to Teddy Roosevelt when Reagan's deregulation became the financial collapse of 2008. Now they seem to be switching again, in yet another reckless attempt to reignite culture wars, trying to sell us the Republican Party of Richard Nixon.
McCain is quoted in today's NY Times, asking "How can you countenance someone who was engaged in bombings that could have or did kill innocent people?" I had to look twice to be sure who was being quoted and who he was talking about. Yup it was McCain and he was talking about William Ayers, who in the 60s was a member of the Weather Underground.
What McCain isn't telling you, and many Americans are too young to remember, including the Democratic nominee for President, is that there were two sides to the culture war of the 60s. The side he is adopting, the side of Richard Nixon, was that there is a Silent Majority that supported the war in Vietnam, and the side represented by the anti-war movement, who, it turns out actually did reflect the opinion of the majority of Americans, that the war in Vietnam was a terrible mistake. If one were to measure the goodness of one side over the other based on how many innocents they killed, there's no doubt that McCain's side killed far more. Orders of magnitude more.
In Thursday's debate the Republican candidate said that every Presidency makes mistakes, and it's true of generations too. She said we shouldn't look back to the Bush Administration for their mistakes, so what is the point of McCain digging up the mistakes of Nixon? Or maybe it does deserve looking at, if so, at least Ayers has moved on and done something constructive with his life. McCain, who likely bombed his share of innocents in the 60s, didn't learn, and took us into another senseless war in which we are again killing huge numbers of innocents.
If we're going to have this discussion, and re-litigate the outrages of the 60s, let's look at it from both sides. Or perhaps as so many have, we should just move on and deal with the problems of today and learn from the mistakes of the past.
Update #1: Jane Smiley writing at Huffpost saw the same irony. "John McCain's defense is that he was performing his patriotic duty, and that's what William Ayers would have said, too." Again, the perennial response to Republicans is that they don't have an exclusive on love of country. I wonder when they'll ever hear that and stop claiming one.
Update #2: In my travels I came across this 1972 infomercial for Nixon. You gotta watch it. It'll give you a fresh perspective on how all this Republican michegas got started.