Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Also Ran

After I wrote a fair amount about Richard Nixon recently, this obituary appeared in The New York Times.

In 1948, when Nixon ran for a second term in Congress, he "cross-filed" in both the Republican and Democratic primaries. That was allowed by California law from 1915 to 1959, and had originally been considered a progressive reform. He was unopposed in the Republican primary. In the Democratic primary, he beat Stephen Zetterberg, the subject of the obituary. That allowed Nixon to run unopposed in the general election, even though a Democrat had filed to oppose him.

The obituary quotes Frank Mankiewicz, a Democratic operative who wrote a book about Nixon, as saying that Zetterberg would have won the general election, had he survived the Democratic primary. In other words, it was Tricky Dick's trickery that won him reelection.

That doesn't make any sense to me. If Zetterberg could not even win a majority among his own party, how could he expect to draw enough Republican and independent votes, to win in November? Mankiewicz's analysis seems to me to be yet another example of Nixon's opponents going overboard in criticizing him.

As I wrote in the post to which I've linked above, I'm curious as to why people overreach in their criticism of Nixon, when there are many issues about which they could more objectively criticize him?

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