Like me, David Frum sees Gore and Hillary “borrowing from Richard Nixon’s playbook.” According to Frum, Hillary “is reinventing herself, just as the ‘new Nixon’ did in 1968.” As to Gore, he is “following exactly the same plan for 2004 that Nixon adopted in 1964, when he made sympathetic noises toward Goldwater while complacently watching his successor lead his party to the worst debacle in it its post-Depression history.”
As I suggested earlier, I think there are important differences between Gore’s approach and Nixon’s. For example, although I may be mistaken, it seems to me that Nixon didn’t endorse Goldwater until further along in the process, after Goldwater had actually beaten the competition in primaries. Second, I think we are going to hear more than “sympathetic noises” from Gore. He seems poised to jump off the deep-end hand-in-hand with Dean, if he hasn’t already done so with his shrill anti-war carping. Nixon, of course, always kept his distance from Goldwater.
Here’s another difference between 1964 and 2004 — Goldwater was a genuine conservative, the leading one of his day. Dean seems to be an opportunist with strong centrist tendencies (kind of like Nixon in that respect). This provides party leaders with some hope that, unlike Goldwater, Dean will move towards the center during 2004. However, it seems to me he’s somewhat locked in on the left at this point. Nonetheless, the Gore/Dean alliance is a fascinating one –arguably, a man of the left who has long masqueraded as a liberal/centrist and a liberal/centrist who has been masquerading as a man of the left.
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