Sunday 16 May 2021 | 05:59 | SYDNEY
Sunday 16 May 2021 | 05:59 | SYDNEY

Starting now, I'm on Nixon Watch


Sam Roggeveen


5 March 2008 09:36

I think it may be time to retire the 'Nixon-goes-to-China' metaphor, or at least replace it with a substitute so that Richard Milhous can get a rubdown and an orange quarter. Just last week, Hugh White and I debated the merits of the presidential candidates' policies on China, with the discussion centered largely on which one could 'do a Nixon' and defy their political base to make peace. And today I see Washington Monthly blogger Kevin Drum entertains the prospect that Obama or Clinton could pull a 'Nixon-goes-to-China' on trade policy.

But as I said to Hugh last week, Nixon going to China was the exception, not the rule — that's why it works as a metaphor. As a way to predict the policies of political candidates, it is surely a less reliable guide than simply examining the candidates' policies and records. So if you favour free trade, then the safe bet is to support a pro-free trade candidate. And if you want an enduring peace with China, pick the person who is more likely to make peace with China, not the one who could pull off a once-in-a-generation political backflip.