What’s The Same, What’s Different

If you had asked me in, say, 2003–as we were waging war in Iraq–whether I would ever look back on the Presidency of George W. Bush with anything less than disgust, I’d have suggested a mental health checkup. If someone had argued that, in retrospect, Richard Nixon had his good points, I’d have gagged.

But here we are.

George W. wasn’t–as the saying goes–the brightest bulb, and at times his religiosity tended to overcome his fidelity to the Constitution–but he listened to the people around him (granted, several were unfortunate choices) not his “gut,” and his faith was evidently sincere. His official performance left a lot to be desired, but when he left the Oval Office, the country was still standing. (Talk about a low bar–but still…) And he’s been a pretty decent former President.

Nixon was actually smart. True, he was paranoid and racist, but he was really good on environmental policy and worked (unsuccessfully) to improve the social safety net. As Paul Krugman recently wrote

Donald Trump isn’t Richard Nixon — he’s much, much worse. And America 2020 isn’t America 1970: We’re a better nation in many ways, but our democracy is far more fragile thanks to the utter corruption of the Republican Party.

The Trump-Nixon comparisons are obvious. Like Nixon, Trump has exploited white backlash for political gain. Like Nixon, Trump evidently believes that laws apply only to the little people.

Nixon, however, doesn’t seem to have been a coward. Amid mass demonstrations, he didn’t cower in the MAGAbunker, venturing out only after his minions had gassed peaceful protesters and driven them out of Lafayette Park. Instead, he went out to talk to protesters at the Lincoln Memorial. His behavior was a bit weird, but it wasn’t craven.

 And while his political strategy was cynical and ruthless, Nixon was a smart, hard-working man who took the job of being president seriously.

His policy legacy was surprisingly positive — in particular, he did more than any other president, before or since, to protect the environment. Before Watergate took him down he was working on a plan to expand health insurance coverage that in many ways anticipated Obamacare.

As Krugman–and many others–have pointed out, the most relevant difference between “then” (the 60s) and now is the profound change in the Republican Party and the spinelessness and lack of integrity of the people the GOP has elected. Yes, Trump is a much worse human being than even Richard Nixon; but the real problem lies with his enablers.

Trump’s unfitness for office, his obvious mental illness and intellectual deficits, his authoritarian instincts and racial and religious bigotries have all been on display since he first rode down that ridiculous escalator. But aside from a small band of “Never Trumpers,” today’s Republican Party has been perfectly happy to abandon its purported devotion to the Constitution and the rule of law–not to mention free trade– in return for the power to enrich its donors and appoint judges who will ensure the continued dominance of white Christian males.

The good news is that the GOP is a significantly smaller party than it was in Nixon’s day.  According to Pew,

In Pew Research Center surveys conducted in 2017, 37% of registered voters identified as independents, 33% as Democrats and 26% as Republicans. When the partisan leanings of independents are taken into account, 50% either identify as Democrats or lean Democratic; 42% identify as Republicans or lean Republican.

The 8-percentage-point Democratic advantage in leaned partisan identification is wider than at any point since 2009, and a statistically significant shift since 2016, when Democrats had a 4-point edge (48% to 44%).

As utterly depressing as it is to see 42% of our fellow Americans still claiming allegiance to a political party that has shown itself to be unmoored from its principles and origins–and for that matter, antagonistic to fundamental American values–the fact remains that more people reject the party of white supremacy than embrace it.

Republicans who supported Nixon in the 60s rarely defend him these days. It will be interesting to see how today’s 42% remember their loyalties fifty years from now.

Assuming, of course, that we still have a country (and a planet) when the devastation wrought by this administration clears….


  1. Your last line, sadly, may be the most prophetic. With all the environmental regs Trump is repealing and refusing to enforce, there won’t be clearing enough to see the sky.

  2. More than the Trumps, the Bush family is responsible for this disaster. Trump only “hijacked” what was there for the taking. Only a country of fools would let Bush off the “hot seat.” But that
    seems about “par for the course.”

    Forget the future, there isn’t going to be one.

  3. My former friend (his choice), a gay, Catholic Republican and I didn’t talk politics; we spoke often of social problems and problems with our local infrastructure as we shared birthdays, holidays and times together just enjoying one another’s company. Suddenly he E-mailed me that his partner, also my friend, didn’t believe I was a “leftie” (I’m not) by baiting me with some political views. Telling him repeatedly that I didn’t know who he was talking about or the issues he was “baiting” me with; the only specific comment I understood was his claim, in accusation form, was that Democrats base their foundation on “relativity”. Who am I – or him – to argue with Einstein’s theory that everything is relative. After a few more back-and-forth E-mails he announced our friendship needed a hiatus. That was in 2006 and he began deleting my E-mails and we have had no contact since. Relatively; this must be the longest hiatus between any two people.

    “What’s The Same, What’s Different” is definitely based on relativity; we are now facing a national conundrum of the “Defund Police” movement on top of Trump’s presidency led by McConnell, the Covid-19 Pandemic, millions jobless, businesses collapsing and the resulting, finally admitted to, Recession. What do we have to compare today with?

    “The good news is that the GOP is a significantly smaller party than it was in Nixon’s day. According to Pew,”

    But the number of staunch Republican voters do not appear, relatively, to be significantly smaller…or smarter.

  4. JoAnn,

    “But the number of staunch Republican voters do not appear, relatively, to be significantly smaller…or smarter.”

    Exactly right. The facts are being manipulated to make us all feel good. It isn’t going to feel good when the “shit, finally, hits the fan.”

  5. Religiosity!

    Yes, there seems to be of vast chasm in what religion and Christianity in particular conveys in its guidelines, to what is actually believed by its claimed followers!

    A thing in Scripture, a virtue, is called stewardship!
    The definition of stewardship; “the careful and responsible management of something entrusted to one’s care”
    it also means conduct, and governance!

    The Christian religion, and also in Islam, good stewards are supposed to respect and care for their fellow man, to work for the greater good, to promote equality and fairness society! To make sure the planet we live on is taking care of, the animals and all life is respected and nurtured by the followers of these religions.

    But, religion has been manipulated by “Unfaithful Stewards” those who use religion as a bludgeon, and a wedge, and a vehicle for self-enrichment and aggrandizement, a useful permission slip to accomplish many nefarious activities including slavery, torture, murder, hatred, and various other maleficent activities! Especially the followers of Christendom! But, 3 major religions use Scripture, not only the Christian religion, but Islam, and Judaism! The 1st 5 books of the Bible, Christians call it the Pentateuch, Jews call it the Torah, Muslims call it the Tevrat! The Psalms are called that very thing by the Christians, and the Jews, Muslims call it the Zebur! The gospel books, Matthew, Mark, Luke, John are called the gospel by Christians, and referred to the same by Jews, and the Incel by Muslims.

    So those 3 major religions are very well aware of Scripture! But what does Scripture command about good stewardship?

    Galatians 2:10 and Philippians 4:15 explains that those who strive after riches could not be friends of God and Christ! That they could never be stewards of God’s undeserved kindness and unfit for spreading spiritual riches 1st Peter 4:10, 11.

    Faithful Stewards who do not manipulate Scripture, They use the gift of that knowledge and wisdom as described in 1st Peter 1:1 and 1st Peter 4:10!

    The apostle Paul said in 1st Corinthians 4:2 that, “what is look for in stewards is for a man to be found faithful.” So, faithful ones do not manipulate and interpret Scripture for their own best interests, as we see constantly today. Where even the Bible is used as a prop by the ignorant who can’t quote anything inside.

    Jesus Christ called the Christian congregation, “The Faithful Steward” and that that steward was to take their message and knowledge to the world, but using discretion and being discreet, not causing contention but by using compassion and empathy! Luke 12:42, Matthew 25:15, and Revelation 12:17!

    Mankind was tasked with being a good steward of the planet, to make sure he did not ruin it! This is mentioned in Psalms 72nd chapter, ” May he plead the cause of your people with righteousness, And of your lowly ones with justice. 3 May the mountains bring peace to the people, And may the hills bring righteousness. 4 Let him defend the lowly among the people, Let him save the sons of the poor, And let him crush the defrauder.

    Mankind was commanded to care for the planet, and be his brother’s keeper, as good stewards! As mentioned above, good stewards do good work, but in Revelation 11:18, and says that those ruining the earth will be brought to ruin themselves.

    Unfortunately, many, or a majority of Christians or those who claim to be Christian, are those who claim to be knowledgeable of Scripture, or those who really don’t care about Scripture, are not “Good Stewards” of the planet.

    I could go on but really no one wants to hear it, but, we can see, the hypocrisy of administrations who claim to follow Christian guidelines, but those Christian guidelines do not follow Scripture! And Scripture portends to this happening, and it causing a great disaster. Just like Daniel’s prophecy of the immense image with feet of iron and clay, Iron is strong, Clay is not! Good Stewardship is not in man’s vocabulary, and, Mankind refuses any sort of restraint on the destruction of the only home he has, and, no restraint on the abuse of the weaker ones, or the widows, or the orphans, or the foreign residents or the poor or the infirmed, or the elderly! When the feet crumble, because the inhumanity and disunity of mankind will cause it all to collapse.

    We can’t blame it all on the Nazis, even though the United States is chocked full of them, they are just evil ideologues, seem to have gained quite a following in recent years, to the detriment of all of those mentioned above. The United States hung 12 Nazis, but imported thousands! That’s because the United States had a soft spot for them, and it was a mutual admiration relationship!

    And now, here we are with our own little Hitler!

  6. i never could recognize the need to screw someone,over their need to vote to condem.seems people who vote the right wing ticket do so many times, to thwart anothers basic needs. sarcastic views,and cheap imitation politics, spell arm chair politics. ones who wouldnt go to a town hall prepared or go to one, read they heard bubbas call.. i live out of this society( the educated) and live where i work. the ignorance is profound,and calls to allow a diffrent color to be recognized as the same as the majority,be damn. when America elected its first blackman to the office of president, and he became influential,and was educated, well liked and the bigots couldnt handle it. the word independant sit somewheres between where i work,and the masses that elected Obama.
    i seldom believe a independants views,and see a line of dissatisfaction, when we elected said president,over their needs first.

  7. Marv,
    weve been played again,and again. seems that photo op may have been a test to see reaction.
    the natl guard is moved,barr gets a burr shoved up his,,and trump is told to sit down and shut up.. keep em quessing, never answer that survey.. i got one asking me if so and so would make a good VP, seems were given names,instead of us asking for names.. they didnt send another.

  8. jack,

    It’s all RACIST BULLSHIT from one side to the other. All you can do at this point is to have a good laugh like watching reruns of “All in the Family.”

  9. 45 and his enablers are not Christian in any sense of the word. They are calvinists in the same vein as those who murdered “witches” in colonial Salem. I hope & pray that the Manhattan prosecuting attorney will come down on him & his cronies so hard they will not know what has hit them. 45 and most if not all of his Cabinet should die in prison of old age or other natural causes.

  10. Numbers can be deceiving. Weren’t there more Jewish inmates at Auschwitz than Nazi guards? What good did the numbers do in that situation? It looks like no more than they will do here at this point.

  11. While we were all up in arms over the orange menace’s trampling of the rights of peaceful protesters, he was gutting wetlands protections. You cannot just keep your eye on the bouncing ball with this administration.

  12. Actually,, George W. Bush DID say he went with his gut during a 60 Minutes interview regarding his invasion of Iraq. At least he had guts. Wrong-headed and, for a time, led by the evil of Dick Cheney, yes. But he did have courage…and empathy. Misguided? Sure. The point is that the last two Republican presidents WERE NOT CLOSE TO BEING CAPABLE OR QUALIFIED TO BE PRESIDENT. Coincidentally, they both lost the popular vote. So, blaming the American people entirely for the debacle we NOW face isn’t exactly fair.

    But blaming the Republican party for being corrupt, craven, stupid and gutless is very fair and correct. The aggrieved white Christian male in this country has been enabled for far to long by fake values and terrible indoctrination – mostly based on racism and what white Christian churches teach.

    So, here we are.

  13. Last I checked, both Nixon and Bush are war criminals on the international level. What Nixon did with the VietNam War is still lingering today, and so is the Iraq War.

    However, our mass murder of foreign citizens is normalized in this country from top to bottom.

    It’s funny that our press led by the State Department hasn’t called Trump’s removal of 4,500 troops from Germany a step into foreign chaos or stabbing our allies in the back.

    If we can remove our troops in Germany (over a comment made by Merkel), why can’t we remove them from all over Europe and the Middle East?

    After we remove them, we can retire them and then defund the military. This should free up billions of dollars for more important programs like converting our society into a people-centered economy focused on workers and sustainability, health for all, and free college education.

  14. Oh, and let us not fall into the messaging trap created by overzealous protesters. NO we cannot defund and disband our police. That “message” just gave Trump and the idiot Republicans all they need to stoke the paranoia they live off.

    The word that needs to be on the signs is REFORM. If anyone saw Kamala Harris’s interview with Chris Hayes last night, you saw and heard the CORRECT approach to reform. She mentioned that, on average, our cities’ budgets are 1/3 for police. ONE THIRD. Meanwhile, our teachers get paid like janitors and the streets crumble, people get sick and can’t work so affording ANY health care is out of the question. Fund the human infrastructure. Maybe that’s the message that should be on the signs.

  15. Vernon,

    “So, blaming the American people entirely for the debacle we NOW face isn’t exactly fair.”

    Who said that. I said, “Only a country of fools would let Bush off the “hot seat.” Talking about being FAIR.

    Your books are now outdated. Is that a fair statement?

  16. Right now, I need to catch the bus to go to my bank. It’s also FAIR to say that I might catch COVID-19 for my excursion.


  17. Marv and Jack,

    The Nazis are here in force! They’ve always been here! They were here in the thirties, when things got hot, right before entry into the second world war, all of those Nazis seemed to disappear! They didn’t leave the country, those that came over from Germany, those were first or second generation here, just melded back into society like Muslim terrorists in Iraq!

    You can draw a direct correlation to the subversive activity of Nazis in the United States to the white supremacist movement that uses much of the Nazi symbolism!

    Nazis we’re not enamored with the Klan initially, but found the hickish bumbling and stupid clowns useful in being Frontline fodder! So they allied with them.
    And, consequently there were plenty of off shoots from this relationship, where they were funded by the big money of the Nazis and their capitalist sympathizers, to keep the hicks breathing!

    Remember, our space program was basically jump-started by Wernher von Braun who was a Nazi scientist. And research into bacterial and viral agents were also spearheaded by imported Nazi researchers that we’re not allowed to be prosecuted for their war crimes!

    Just following orders? Maybe more like all we’re just following the financial gain, following the riches, following the money! After all, what are human lives compared to enriching oneself?

    Annihilating entire civilizations, using religion to endorse slavery, and demonizing the others, or the different, or those that are melatonin enhanced.

    Compassion, empathy, ethics, civility, all cast aside for the god of power and finance, basically capitalism! There was a reason why Nazism and capitalism worked hand-in-hand. But the behavior was around long before there were even Nazis! Nazis were a symptom of the virus, American manifest destiny, American Romanticism, and American exceptionalism, were other symptoms of the virus of human hate. Unfortunately, throughout the millennia, its influence on history, religion has supported this aforementioned maleficent type of behavior, instead of following the scriptural guidelines and reject it!

  18. It took only a little help from Putin to install a fool in the Whitehouse and even with that help it was a minority of Americans that elected him. So what we have to rely on is that the country that Trump is President of is mostly still the one that the world came to respect in the aftermath of WWII. There seems to be quite a body of evidence that his shitshow further shrunk the number of his supporters.

    The question that needs to be addressed is where did this minority country within a country come from? Trump and unconstitutional Republicans didn’t move here, they were created over a few decades from Americans.

    First though we have to concentrate on deep cleaning DC this November. There is nothing more important or urgent. It doesn’t matter who the Democrat candidates really are because they are Americans of the old school that the world still respects.

    After November we have to address what is rotting our core? It can’t be allowed to spread any more than the coronavirus can be. What is the political equivalent of social distancing?

  19. Lost in “Nazis are marching in” babble today (and everyday) is the fact that the largest number of eligible voters identify as….independent. These folks are hoping, praying and waiting for more people in DC who want to govern and solve problems rather than spout partisanship and ideology, of any stripe.

  20. trumps idea of America is the nazi scheme of things. the past didnt make a earfull of news until we had trumps approval to have them come out of the wood work. lead on trumpantly,,”the art of the will..”. afterall, when a no holds barred buisness ass like trump wants to run the presidency like a ceo, and use like whores the ignornat for his personal gain, this is above hitler,its a total loss regime. we as a masse, obviously,will overrule at the poles, problem, if we get to vote again,and the roberts court, maintains the constitution as written. theres far more to trump,and his enablers.

  21. Lester: “Lost in “Nazis are marching in” babble today (and everyday) is the fact that the largest number of eligible voters identify as….independent. These folks are hoping, praying and waiting for more people in DC who want to govern and solve problems rather than spout partisanship and ideology, of any stripe.”

    I totally agree with U about the Nazi babble.

    The Trumpet’s postings on Facebook have already taken the “De fund the Police Departments” and running with it. Hordes of illegals will be streaming across the borders so they can loot, pillage and rape the good law abiding citizens. The home grown criminals will be descending on You. Arm your selves, stock up on Ammo. The Law and Order President Trumpet is standing up to these Anti-Christs and Anarchists.

    The Democrats as a Party must focus on the issues. The hardcore Reactionary Right Wing and bible thumper’s are still firmly behind The Trumpet. The Independent non-partisan Voters are the ones that must be motivated to Vote Democratic.

  22. ML – thanks for the clapping! There is lots of talk here about the not so smart folks who support the President. How smart do you have to be to know that “Defund the Police” will be effective for November?

  23. My thumbnail sketch – I suppose everyone has done good and bad in his or her lifetime. Even Hitler was at one time an altar boy in the Catholic Church, but I find it difficult to forgive a Nixon who gave us the EPA and even proposed a GAW (Guarnateed Annual Wage) along with Watergate during his tenure. He was the next to last president to follow fleeting New Deal policies. Bush, of course, stole the election via the infamous Bush v. Gore finding and proceeded (with the help of Brother Cheney) to find WMDs where there weren’t any, and we all know what happened after that. Reagan earlier put the finishing touches on the New Deal with his union-busting and tear down that wall theatrics and set the stage for another know-nothing administration led by a real estate investor some fifteen years later who has no understanding of how the world (or anything else) works since he lives in some narcissistic Otherworld of contrived facts and conclusions ordinary people cannot fathom in their world except for a minority of mesmerized cultists.

    We are on the cusp of ridding ourselves of this sick oaf in the Oval Office, and we need not live in fear because it is the clotheless emperor who is in fear of such as the last few weeks of democracy in the streets by the majority who are successfully resisting the Trump-Barr adventure in bullying which they thought would lead to a bloodless coup of our democracy, and as to whether Trump will leave when defeated in November, we overrate his ability to control the narrative after his defeat since he will have no more right to be in the Oval Office than I have, and if he declines to leave, federal marshals will help him out the door while Secret Service members watch (and along with the rest of us, perhaps applaud).

  24. Lester – Good point. Our issue for the fall in this connection should be to reform the policing system, not defund it. Reform has massive support; defunding not. It is clear that their “policing” duties as currently defined are beyond their capacity to perform and that spreading out such responsibilities among human services agencies and others and tasking the police with law enforcement duties is the way to go.

  25. JoAnn: You’re thriving without that friend of 14 years ago. I’ve lost some too along the way. Good riddance as it usually turns out. “He (or she) travels fastest who travels alone.”

  26. Lester, talking about Nazi babble?

    Being on this blog for not quite a year, I’ve noticed that some of us talked about the possibility of Martial law, some of us talked about there Will be blood, some of us talked about posse comitatus, and, all of these things have come to pass in some form or fashion!

    There is a huge element to Nazism in the United States! There are networks that have never been disbanded, connections with their capitalist sympathizers that are still existing to this day! Our current POTUS is a student of his idol Adolf Hitler, his former wife actually expounded on that very thing during their divorce trial!

    The Nazis were very grateful to the United States for steering them in the direction that Nazism took them. With Manifest Destiny giving them the blueprint for their liebensraum (living space or blood and soil).

    The European slave trade was the blueprint for the American slave trade! It’s all connected.

    Do you actually think that if Donald Trump thinks he’s going to lose, he will not do everything in his power to stay in office? Because he knows that authorities are going to be coming after him. And he knows he will probably go to prison! He, will not allow that to happen!

    Independent voters? There are no independent voters, they are on one side or the other! They’re leaning to the left or to the right. and, if one were to fall, are they going to fall in the opposite direction they are leaning? NO!

    The Nazis were not stupid, and, neither are the organizations and allies that they have in place. All they did was bide their time until their action was appropriate.

  27. Yeah, I most definitely don’t agree with Vernon. GWB was most definitely capable and qualified to be President of the United States. You may not have liked what he did, and I was opposed to the Iraq War, but he certainly had the ability and empathy to be President of the United States. There is no comparison between GWB and Trump.

    This is where liberals go off the rails. Donald Trump is a uniquely unqualified and unfit person to be President. There is no one even close in terms of unfitness. But when liberals start lumping all Republicans together as being bad, they lose credibility.

    Remember when Mitt Romney was labeled as a racist when he ran for election in 2012? Now that we have a REAL RACIST in office, people who support Trump can dismiss concerns about racism because there are people out there who will say every Republican President is a racist.

  28. Paul,

    “This is where liberals go off the rails. Donald Trump is a uniquely unqualified and unfit person to be President. There is no one even close in terms of unfitness. But when liberals start lumping all Republicans together as being bad, they lose credibility.”

    I agree. That might be a popular political position these days, but it’s not rational. And there never will be peace, if we don’t find a way to find some common ground, despite how difficult that now appears to be achieved.

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