As regrets go, it’s not one of my bigger ones but it is real nonetheless. I regret that, in previous discussions about how much trump is like other tyrants, large and small, across the globe and throughout history, I’ve not mentioned Richard Nixon. I’ve often thought of including Nixon in my list. His self-recorded conversations reveal him to have been so hyper-sensitive to criticism that he was almost paranoid. Typical of a tyrant.
In the end, I’ve always deleted my remarks about Nixon because I thought they might be a distraction, since most people don’t think of him when they hear the word “tyrant.” However much I may have wanted to use Nixon as evidence that tyrannical thinking can indeed get one to the White House, it seemed I’d have to write a whole expose of the man in order for people to see that he is as attractive to trump as a model leader as are Kim Jong Un, Putin, and Hitler.
Now trump’s campaign manager, Paul Manafort, apparently forgetting that Nixon was on the road to shame from the very beginning of his presidency, has told us that trump has decided to use Nixon’s famous “law and order” speech at the 1968 RNC convention as the model for his own acceptance speech this week.
Manafort also seems unaware that time and again in European history, when democracies are struggling, the people look to a “strong man,” (that’s their common term) to take responsibility for getting them out of the mess by exercising decidedly un-democratic means to suppress dissention and restore “law and order.”
The Huffington Post reports online today about Manafort’s comments this morning to reporters. Here are brief excerpts from the article:
As Donald Trump searched for a template for his acceptance speech, the model he chose was Richard Nixon’s infamous 1968 “law and order” speech on behalf of a silent and sullen middle class. At a somewhat similar time of stress and struggle in America and the world, Trump chose that speech as a starting point, his campaign chief told reporters at a Bloomberg breakfast Monday morning.
But there is “angst and opportunity” in the streets and in the world, Manafort said, and Trump will seize the moment to claim that “strong leadership” can bring calm, order, jobs and peace. How exactly he’ll do this is, of course, not clear. In the meantime, look to Nixon to see how to sell the message.
America would not be better off today with a Nixon, a Putin, a Kim Jong Un, for a Hitler at the helm. Tyranny is not an attractive alternative to democracy.
P.S. — Perhaps, to avoid future regrets, I need now to mention Stalin as another megalomaniacal tyrant. I’ve not mentioned him yet because neither trump nor his supporters has done so yet. But I wouldn’t be surprised. . .