The Nixon Gambit?


I’m having second thoughts about my second Palin prediction.  Is it possible she’s going for the Richard Nixon Gambit?

Nixon, a former vice president, famously couldn’t even get elected governor of his own state, California, in 1962.  (He lost to future Chief Justice Earl Warren.)  Everybody pronounced Tricky Dick dead.  Even Tricky Dick: “You won’t have Dick Nixon to kick around anymore.”

Tricky Dick, though, had a few more tricks.  He spent the next several years going on the road for every Republican office-seeker he could find, raising money, ginning up crowds.  He made a lot of friends.  He established a network of contacts and deep pockets.  He moderated his rhetoric.  He developed a reputation as a very articulate spokesman for the establishment conservative view of the world (i.e., the non-Goldwater view).  He came to be in demand.  In short, he became popular in the GOP, then more broadly.

He was elected president.  Twice.

Could Sarah the Barracuda be planning a similar arc?

Maybe.  She lacks the intelligence Nixon had that gave him substance, but speechwriters can work around that.  She’s already told the Republican Governors Association that she wants to campaign for other GOP pols.  And there’s this.  One of the speechwriters and political advisers who ran the original Nixon Gambit was a kid named Pat Buchanan.  Many years later, Sarah Palin worked for Pat Buchanan.  Buchanan remains a huge Palin fan, and is almost certainly advising her.

The humiliation of that California governor’s race was key to Nixon’s comeback.  By quitting mid-term and blaming the media, is Palin, under Buchanan’s guidance, manufacturing her own gubernatorial humiliation from which to launch a Nixonian comeback, employing the same “paranoid style”?

I still lean against.  But all the ingredients are there.  Stay tuned.

Update (7/7/09 8:04 pm): See comments for correction of egregious Earl Warren error.


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9 Responses to “The Nixon Gambit?”

  1. jazzbumpa Says:

    Running such a gambit strikes me as being:
    – to clever by half,
    – risky as hell,
    – mistaking wishful thinking for strategy.

    But who the hell knows. Karl Rove made W president.


    Damn. Where’s my squid?

    • urbino Says:

      Agree on all counts. That’s why I still lean against this being a Nixon Gambit. The parallels make it hard to totally dismiss, though.

  2. michaellasley Says:

    If you’re interested, JU, the LA Times agrees with you:,0,1629385.story

  3. urbino Says:

    They also did me the favor of correcting my obvious error re Earl Warren, who had already been on SCOTUS for 10 years by 1962.

    I got my wires crossed by way of the fact that Nixon hated Warren and held a personal grudge against him for some electoral brouhaha while Warren was the gov. I just don’t remember what it was.

  4. michaellasley Says:

    It’s always nice when the LA Times does your fact-checking for you!

    But. You were ahead of the game once again. On this. Months ahead of the game on the too big to fail hoohah. You should get paid to do this.

  5. alsturgeon Says:

    I believe Urbino “is” the game. Everyone else is just sneaking over to steal his ideas. 🙂

    Hey Mikey, got to send you a email. Your name came up at work today. (How’s that for a teaser?)

  6. urbino Says:

    I’ve seen the Palin/Nixon comparison several places since I wrote my post; I didn’t look at the timestamps on all of them, but I’m sure I wasn’t the first blogger it occurred to. I mean, what are the odds?

    What I haven’t seen anywhere else is anybody pointing out the Buchanan connection.

  7. Dan Says:

    Followers of Nixon might find some revelations in this dialogue between Nixon and Obama.



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