Democrats Play into Nixon’s Hands

The reverend was wearing a dashiki, the flowing African-style robe favored by black nationalists, as the TV cameras recorded, and as history recalled. The cameras did not record, nor did history recall, the reverend’s ambivalent feelings about his victory over Daley—“What kind of pleasure can you get by throwing a man that old out of something that’s so important to him?”—nor his tireless and risky efforts to effect a last-minute compromise between the reformers and the regulars. Instead he became a visual symbol of the reformers’ theft of “regular” Democrats’ birthright, and a great political party’s civil war. Somewhere, Richard Nixon was smiling.