Richard Nixon rehabiliteret?

Vi har fulgt uenighederne i amerikansk politik mellem Barack Obama og republikanerne, og mange har spurgt, hvorfor præsidenten ikke handlede anderledes. Forfatteren Kurt Andersen (der trods sit danske navn er amerikaner) skriver i New York Times i et essay:

Of course, a lot of us swooned over Obama partly because he seemed so prudent, straightforward and even-keeled. But now, with Republicans spectacularly applying the Madman Theory for the first time in domestic politics, Obama’s nonconfrontational reasonableness isn’t looking like such a virtue.

It’s frustrating. We’ve had presidents who were intelligent and progressive but also cynical and ruthless when necessary. Effective, tough-minded, visionary liberals such as F.D.R., Clinton … and Nixon.

In popular imagination, Nixon remains nothing but a great goblin — scowling bomber of Southeast Asia, panderer to fear and racism, paranoid anti-Semite, dispatcher of burglars — but the truth is, he governed further to the left than any president who followed him. The overreaching Euro-socialist nanny state that today’s Republicans despise? That blossomed in the Nixon administration.

Spending on social services doubled, and military budgets actually decreased. He oversaw the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, and the Consumer Product Safety Commission. His administration was the first to encourage and enable American Indian tribal autonomy. He quadrupled the staff of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, almost tripled federal outlays for civil rights and began affirmative action in federal hiring. He supported the Equal Rights Amendment and signed Title IX, the law granting equality to female student athletes. One of his Supreme Court appointees wrote the Roe v. Wade decision.

Nixon made Social Security cost-of-living increases automatic, expanded food stamps and started Supplemental Security Income for the disabled and elderly poor. It helped, of course, that Democrats controlled the House and Senate. But it was the president, not Congress, who proposed a universal health insurance plan and a transformation of welfare that would have set a guaranteed minimum income and allowed men to remain with their welfare-recipient families. It was Nixon who radically intervened in the free market by imposing wage and price controls, launched détente with the Soviets, normalized relations with Mao’s China and let the Communists win in Vietnam.

And, for good measure, the budget for the National Endowment for the Arts grew sixfold, by far the biggest increase by any president.

Og så var det faktisk også mens Nixon var præsident, at dødsstraffen blev erklæret forfatningsstridig af USAs højesteret.

Sangen med Manic Street Preachers (der er britiske og aldrig er slået igennem i USA!) var et mindre hit i 2004.

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