Saturday, April 9, 2011

Different Times

For anyone who thinks we live in especially partisan, divisive times, let me remind you that on a scale of partisanship and divisiveness, things really aren't that bad right now. My evidence? Here is a video of the President visiting the Lincoln Memorial today, facing a crowd that is just thrilled to be there and obviously feeling very lucky to be part of a presidential visit. They also know that it is due to the President's efforts, and the efforts of Congressional leaders in resolving the budget last night, that the Lincoln Memorial is open for business today.

For more pictures, check out the Obama diary website.

Last week I happened to visit the Nixon library in Yorba Linda, after reading about how they updated the Watergate exhibit to reflect a more balanced view of a truly divisive time. That was probably why, when I saw the pictures today of Obama's triumphant visit to the Lincoln Memorial, I was reminded of the strange story of Nixon's pre-dawn unannounced visit to some anti-war protesters camped out at the Lincoln Memorial. In contrast to Obama, Nixon was awkward and hesitant, trying but failing to connect with these protesters. In contrast to the happy crowds at the Lincoln Memorial today, the young people back in 1970 were angry and outraged. It's good to remember that even though nowadays we still see lots of signs of suspicion and hate, they are nothing compared to the suspicions and hate that existed during the Nixon era. Here is Oliver Stone's re-creation of this bizarre event. We may live in interesting times today, but not nearly as scary as some of the times we have lived through in the past.


  1. You make a really good point Joe. I've often tried to make the case to people that politics today is fairly tame compared to what it used to be.

    I mean, at one point, the vice president of the United States shot his political opponent. Could you imagine Biden and Boehner duelling?

  2. OK, so now I'm picturing Joe Biden and John Boehner in cowboy hats, boots and spurs facing off at high noon in a dusty Western town. It's actually kind of fun to imagine.

  3. I can see Joe and John in cowboy boots but they are they are not leather -- they are snake and alligator skins!

    These are relatively tame days indeed. I'm trying to imagine the anger in Washington between JQ Adams, Jackson and Clay in 1824/1825 after "The Corrupt Bargain". Or among citizens before during and after the Civil War. Things are kind of boring now that we don't have Nixon to kick around anymore. Oh wait, we do still have Nixon to kick around :-)

  4. Oh and don't forget the Preston Brooks affair. I can see McCain having a nephew of his caining Harry Reid on the senate floor.

  5. What political ideology was mostly represented by the protestors during the Nixon administration?

  6. I didn't see Obama wading into a Tea Party demonstration. That probably would have go over well.