The Shadows of '68

Washington Matters

The Shadows of '68

Two couldn't-be-more-different views of the campaign as seen through the lens of the far more tumultuous and ugly presidential race of 40 years ago popped up recently...

Washington Post columnist Harold Meyerson uses Barack Obama's plan to address an Election Night crowd in Chicago's Grant Park -- the epicenter of much of the violence that wracked the Democratic convention in Chicago in 1968 --as an opportunity to compare the dismal state of the party then versus the far more unified and vital one now that is looking at the possibility of a huge and historic victory.

Longtime Republican activist, consultant and troublemaker Roger Stone gives advice to John McCain -- telling him what Richard Nixon would have done differently up to now and what he'd do if he were in the same type of hole (I won't spoil the suspense but think of Ayers, Farrakhan and Rezko as the opening act). Stone is an unrepentant Nixon disciple. (He has a Nixon portrait tattooed on his back. Really,) And he unapologetically embraces the ruthless and killer-instinct political style that made so many people despise Nixon (and helped contribute to his downfall), but that also made him one of the most successful and prominent politicians of the last half of the 20th Century.

Some will surely find Stone's advice divisive and cynical. And it certainly is that. But there is also some extremely subtle and smart strategic thinking on display here that will help political junkies of any partisan or ideological persuasion understand the nature of modern campaigning.  Love him or hate him, Nixon changed the face of campaigning -- and won a lot, too.

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