Sunday, January 6, 2013

History will be kinder to him than people thought

Jonathan Aitken (who, unlike most politicians, actually served his sentence in prison) reminds us that it is the hundredth anniversary of Richard Milhous Nixon's birth. It's an interesting article as it tries to grapple with a complicated personality. Undoubtedly, the main thrust of it is right: Nixon's superlative abilities and achievements have been obscured by the Watergate scandal, which is still cited as the worst possible thing that could happen in politics.

The still unresolved scandal of Fast and Furious has been described as Obama's Watergate, as has the murder of the American ambassador and three other Americans in Benghazi. Two important differences: the left-leaning media has devoted about one tenth of the attention it did to Watergate to the two outrages combined; and, most importantly, nobody died because of Watergate. Nobody. More people died in the back of Teddy Kennedy's car than at Watergate.

One or two things are missing from this article. Nixon's paranoia was partly a personality defect but partly the understandable result of the media hounding that started soon after the Hiss case in which he played a pivotal part. In fact, if it had not been for the young Rep. Richard Nixon Whittaker Chambers's testimony would have been ignored. Neither Chambers nor Nixon were ever forgiven for being right on Hiss and many other Communist agents.

The other cause for his paranoia was the result of the 1960 Presidential election: not only was the result very close but there were and are serious doubts about some aspects of it. Votes disappearing and appearing in Illionois is not something that is calculated to enhance one's respect for the winning candidate and his party. Unlike Al Gore, Nixon decided not to challenge anything as he thought that the Constitutional process and Presidential position were all important. It would seem that Eisenhower was also strongly of that opinion. But it must have left a mark on Nixon.

As the anniversary approaches it will be interesting to see what sort of articles and opinions will be published.


  1. Helen,

    I agree with your piece except with the one statement that the "the left-leaning [tautology - unfortunately] media has devoted about one tenth of the attention it did to Watergate to the two outrages combined".

    Wherever have you found this coverage? Less than 1% is much closer to the truth.


  2. Sorry Mikgen. I was uncharacteristically charitable. Will not happen again. I promise. :)