Romney is (as far as we know) not the steel-cold sociopath that Nixon was. I’m not comparing the two men personally. In that way they’re quite different. Nixon, who grew up poor and fought his way into higher society while developing sharp distrust and raging hatred for Jews and elites, embodied white middle-class revenge far more naturally than Romney does. He’s too dorky and entitled to really seethe with that hatred, go to sleep with it and wake up with it, the way Nixon did.
And yet, different as they are, their campaigns, their appeals, are undeniably similar: Nixon led, and Romney is now leading, a vengeance campaign against an Other America, an America their supporters despise. Romney’s is a campaign that seeks to win, that can only win, by dividing the country into an “us” and a “them.” I confess that I’ve been genuinely shocked by the baldness of Romney’s lies about welfare and Medicare and about the way he’s racialized this campaign. I guess that’s precisely because, whatever he seemed, he did not seem sinister like Nixon. And he may not be. But he is clearly a man who will do and say anything to be president.
With Romney’s likability at record lows, Republicans appear to have given up on getting America to like their candidate. Instead, they’d rather divide and conquer like it’s 1968.
(via Michael Tomasky on How Tricky Mitt Romney Is Aping Richard Nixon)