391. Limitation (IX)
On Twitter, a user inquired as to why rightists seem to prefer Nixon to Reagan, despite, on paper, Reagan being more to the right as regards economic policy. There are two answers to this question: the first is that we have the Watergate tapes, so unlike all the other presidents we have a good idea as to what Nixon really thought and felt, whereas with other politicians we have to guess as to how—to adopt Internet slang—“based” they were. We know what Nixon really thought about blacks, Jews, homosexuals, and so on.
The second reason Nixon should be celebrated more than Reagan is that he was effective. The left despised Nixon with a passion not seen until Trump’s arrival. As with Trump, the left did everything in their power to turf Nixon out—and they succeeded. Actions speak louder than words: the left might have called Reagan “a fascist”—they call all right-wing leaders, from Bush to John Major, “fascist”—but they did not viscerally despise him; and that was because they did not fear him.
I have no idea as to the policy differences between Reagan and Nixon on the environment and civil rights—no idea if their aims were realised. I do know that the left wanted Nixon out; and they did everything in their power to get him out. This means he was effective and provoked fear in his enemies, as did Trump. The same cannot be said about Reagan.
As Kissinger might have observed, “Nothing else matters other than the actions undertaken by those opposed to your presidency.” When they want your blood and will go to any lengths to get it then you are a threat. In no way did Reagan, Bush I, or Bush II evoke the same passion; and from this we can infer that their presidencies were no threat to the left—or, in fact, that these men were of the left themselves. People who think Reagan was superior to Nixon are too caught up in words—they blather about ideas that were never implemented or were tactical moves to build coalitions for office. All that matters is what people do—revealed preference, as they say in econ speak. You can have all the fancy policy positions you want and all the pretty rhetoric about family values and Christianity, but if, as with Bush II, you hobnob at parties with the “democratic resistance” to Trump then everyone can see what you are.
Nixon was fiercely intelligent, whereas Reagan was an airhead; for example, Nixon nailed the critical problem: East Coast elites and the media-educational complex—he understood the enemy and they feared him. It has long been agreed that when actors become high status that a society is in decline; Reagan was an actor, but he was not good enough for the Hollywood A-list and had to settle for the political U-list instead (politics is show business for ugly people, as they say; and, per Reagan, those with mediocre talent). As with all actors, Reagan was narcissistic and it is notable that he formed a close relationship with Thatcher, as women are another group that is inherently narcissistic—and narcissism is the leftist trait par excellence. Leftists always say Nixon was “friendless” and “isolated”; by this they mean he was engaged with reality and not caught in the narcissistic whirl of “friendships” with backstabbers that characterises politics.
By the way, both the British and American states were larger after Reagan and Thatcher were finished with their “brutal neoliberal cuts”; so again, if we look at what actually happened, we will see that this “neoliberal revolution” was an illusion—it never happened. But Reagan beat the USSR! Reality: the Soviets were finished in the 1940s; the Cold War was a shell game, the Soviets were propped up by American aid because the American government is functionally orientated to communism and sympathised with the Soviet goal, while not always being in agreement with their methods. In short, Nixon ftw.