An interesting man, Conrad Black, author of voluminous biographies of Franklin D. Roosevelt and Richard Nixon, has a very interesting column on NRO.
Among the politically incorrect assertions Black makes include,
Nixon’s only full term was, except for Lincoln’s one and FDR’s first and third, the most successful in history...
Watergate was nonsense.
Along with Truman, Nixon and Reagan did more than anyone else to win the Cold War, the greatest and most bloodless strategic victory in the history of the nation-state.
...the indigestible fact is that Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter are closer to it (the truth) than the New York Times and the traditional networks.
And he concludes that our current polarized political environment was fundamentally created by the liberals with their
...demonization of Nixon and the myths of Vietnam.
It's interesting that Black marks the point at which our current supercharged partisanship (if there is one - some people dispute this) began in the late sixties, early seventies. This was also the time that the neo-conservative movement took hold. Some formerly liberal Democrats began breaking their affiliation, repulsed by their party's embrace of values espoused by its George McGovern wing as explained by Norman Podhoretz in "Why Are Jews Liberals?"
...whereas the Democratic Party since Roosevelt had stood for internationalism in foreign affairs, McGovernism (as heralded by the campaign slogan “Come Home, America”) was isolationist in all but name;
whereas the Democrats had believed in treating individuals as individuals without regard to “race, creed, color, or country of national origin,” McGovernism’s embrace of quotas translated into treating individuals entirely with regard to race, creed, and color;
and whereas the Democrats had interpreted the idea of equality as meaning of opportunity for individuals, McGovernism took it to mean equality of results for groups.
The neocons didn't change so much as the Democratic party changed and since then, the party has, if anything, become more entrenched in the McGovern philosophy.
The Vietnam era was the inflection point for both Black's polarization and Podhoretz' neocon emergence and the war was the driving force for both. The upheaval was caused by the different interpretations of the lessons of Vietnam. Black points out that the liberals succeeded in getting their (mythical) version incorporated in the history books. He provides an alternative narrative.
In April 1972, between Nixon’s historic visits to China and the USSR, the South Vietnamese defeated the North Vietnamese and Viet Cong invasion and offensive, with no U.S. ground support but with heavy air support. This formula might have kept South Vietnam afloat for 15 years, until international Communism collapsed. In his Silent Majority speech of November 1969, Nixon said that North Vietnam could not “defeat or humiliate the United States. Only Americans can do that.” This is what happened, and the Democrats and the national media have been in steadily more implausible denial for over 30 years.