By Rick Perlstein
NIXONLAND starts within the blood and fireplace of the Watts riots - one week after President Johnson signed the balloting Rights Act, and 9 months after his old landslide victory over Barry Goldwater looked as if it would have heralded an enduring liberal consensus. the following yr ratings of liberals have been thrown out of Congress, the US used to be extra divided than ever, and a disgraced baby-kisser was once on his solution to a stunning comeback: Richard Nixon. Six years later, President Nixon, harvesting the bitterness and resentment borne of that blood and hearth, was once re-elected in a landslide even greater than Johnson's, and the outlines of trendy US politics of red-and-blue department turned specified.
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Additional resources for Nixonland: The Rise of a President and the Fracturing of America
By mid-June the pretense of defense was dropped altogether, as squads were sent out on the first major missions to “search and destroy” the enemy. They said that if you supported Goldwater, Bob Hope had quipped, America would end up in Vietnam. ” Not so funny now. Johnson lied about all of it. Just as he lied about an April incursion of twenty thousand marines into the Dominican Republic—making up a story that the ambassador phoned him from underneath his desk as Communist bullets ricocheted around the room.
Johnson’s approval rating even among Republicans was 74 percent. Pundits and public-opinion experts proclaimed him an exact match for the spirit of the age. S. Chamber of Commerce, the president was interrupted for applause some sixty times. They had reason to cheer. So dynamic had the American economic engine become that it was fashionable to presume that prosperity could fix any social problem. “I’m sick of all the people who talk about the things we can’t do,” Lyndon Johnson told an aide in one of his patented exhortations.
Millions of Americans recognized the balance of forces in the exact same way—that America was engulfed in a pitched battle between the forces of darkness and the forces of light. The only thing was: Americans disagreed radically over which side was which. By 1972, defining that order of battle as one between “people who identified with what Richard Nixon stood for” and “people who despised what Richard Nixon stood for” was as good a description as any other. Richard Nixon, now, is long dead. But these sides have hardly changed.