Rocket Man, I enjoyed your

Rocket Man, I enjoyed your blogs from last night about Kennedy and Nixon. As to Nixon’s liberal domestic policy, I believe, based on what Leonard Garment and others have said, that Nixon didn’t care much about domestic policy. He saw himself as a world figure and just wanted to do well enough in domestic affairs to stay in office, thereby maintaining his position as the primary actor on the world stage. The three liberal domestic programs we’ve been discussing — wage-price controls, affirmative action, and guaranteed annual income — can all be viewed as short-term measures to avoid problems (e.g., inflation and race riots) that could have hurt Nixon’s political standing. That said, I don’t think that Nixon saw any of these programs as particularly harmful. As I recall, Nixon had some involvement with wage-price controls during World War II and considered them an acceptable anti-inflationary approach in war time. As to affirmative action, Nixon’s confidants have said that he imposed this program on the building trades in order to drive a wedge between two Democratic constituencies, blacks and unions. Historians agree that this was his motive. I’ve never been completely convinced. however, because it was the union members whose votes Nixon wanted most, and they presumably were less likely to vote for Nixon by virtue of his administration’s imposition of quotas. And I agree with Rocket Man that Nixon had genuine sympathy for African-Americans and might well have thought that forced integration of the building trades was a valid measure at that time. Thus, the conventionally accepted story of Nixon and affirmative action may not be completely true. But I think it’s true in spirit. Whatever Nixon did in the area of domestic policy was more likely to be motived by pure politics than by anything else.

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