For today's write-up on Very Strange Bedfellows: The Short and Unhappy Marriage of Richard Nixon and Spiro Agnew, I'll use as my starting-point something that Jules Witcover says on page 118. The context of the passage is the 1970 race for U.S. Senate in the state of New York. At least three people were running. The first was Republican Charlie Goodell, who had a fairly conservative record in the U.S. House but disappointed Richard Nixon by advocating an early withdrawal of American troops from Vietnam, whereas Nixon supported "slower disengagement through a buildup of South Vietnamese forces" (page 117). The second was Democrat Richard Ottinger, who opposed the Vietnam War. And the third was Conservative Party challenger James Buckley, the brother of conservative icon William F. Buckley, Jr. Vice-President Spiro Agnew was a vociferous critic of Goodell, preferring Buckley instead. And, to my surprise, Buckley won the race! The wikipedia article about him states: "To date he has been the only candidate of his party, and the last third party registrant, to be successfully nominated and elected to the U.S. Congress." (Wikipedia in a footnote explains the cases of Bernie Sanders, Joe Lieberman, and others.)
But onto what Witcover says on page 118:
had attacked the recently released report of the Scranton Commission on
campus unrest, calling it in his trademark fashion 'pablum for
permissiveness.' Goodell responded: 'Mr. Agnew has long been saying
that it is the duty of men in public office to speak out against
violence in our universities. That is precisely what this report
does----only the report, unlike the vice president, speaks in balanced
and moderate language.' At the same time, Goodell was careful not to
separate himself from the leader of his party. 'In no conceivable sense
is it [the report] scapegoating the president for a problem which, as
we all know, has long antedated his accession to office,' he said, and
Nixon was 'far ahead of Vice President Agnew in exercising constructive
leadership on the issue.'"
I've never read the Scranton Commission's report on campus unrest. From what the wikipedia article about it
says, it did appear to blame the campus unrest on escalation of the
Vietnam War, including Nixon's invasion of Cambodia. Consequently, I
can see why Agnew had a problem with the report. At the same time, I
seriously doubt that it was supporting campus unrest, and, as a study,
it probably was rather measured. But the quotation of Goodell stood out
to me because I've long wondered about the fairness of demonizations.
The right demonizes the left, and the left demonizes the right; both
caricature each other. But perhaps people from both sides, in their own
way, are concerned about many of the same problems and how to address
them. And yet, whatever their motives may be, some policies work better
than other policies.
I also thought about an article that I read: Mike Adams' "Letters to a Young Progressive".
Adams essentially narrates that he was a secular progressive in
college, but he became more religious and adopted conservative positions
on certain issues when he was in the real world. This is somewhat like
how Agnew characterized campus radicals: not knowing much about nuance
and how the real world works. But, in my opinion, exposure to the real
world can make a person into a liberal, not just a conservative. In the
same way that there may be liberal solutions that collapse in the face
of real life, there are plenty of examples in which conservative
policies have had real world destructive consequences: people losing
their homes or even their lives due to American military adventurism,
people being forced to struggle even more due to the government cutting
the programs that they need, etc.
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