Sunday, June 10, 2012

Kicking Nixon's Corpse

Supposedly in 'honor' of the anniversary of the Watergate break in, WAPO reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, the two reporters who made their careers off of the Watergate scandal decided to publish a little recessional entitled 'Richard Nixon Was Worse Than We thought'.

They go on to recount President Nixon's sins against the anti Vietnam War movement, against the press, against Democrats, against their conception of justice, and his supposed anti-Semitism.

Before we look at the meat of the article, we need to look at the obvious reason it came out just now, and realize it has nothing to do with any 'anniversary'.

President Barack Obama is floundering badly, and many partisan Democrats (like our two authors and presumably some of the people whom run the Washington Post) are concerned that if he loses he may spark a tsunami that could sweep many of the Democrats right out of power with him. So it's time to help the Cause by waving the bloody shirt of Nixon, resurrecting an old bogeyman and doing what they can to damage the Republican brand to re-energize the Faithful.

Leaving aside the morality of attacking someone no longer able to defend himself, when you examine Nixon's supposed sins except for Watergate, they don't seem all that evil. Especially in view of what some of the presidents who succeeded Nixon did with barely a murmur out of the media.

Was the anti-War movement poisonous and border line treasonous? According to the letter of the law, no, since Vietnam was yet another undeclared war. According to the spirit of the law, undoubtedly so. Richard Nixon was essentially faced by a ginned up, Left driven insurrection in America bent on anarchy and undermining his attempts to end the war honorably. This was the time, you might remember, when Bill Ayers and his friends were blowing up the Pentagon, when violent riots billed as demonstrations were the order of the day, when Hollywood stars were doing photo-ops and propaganda broadcasts for the North Vietnamese and a certain former naval officer who today is a sitting U.S. senator and almost became president himself joined a number of like minded people to meet with North Vietnamese cadres in Paris to plot strategy for undermining America's war effort at home while American troops were under fire.

Were the majority of the press hostile and biased against Nixon? Undoubtedly, dating back to his bringing down left wing establishment darling Alger Hiss, later revealed to be a Soviet agent and his defeating the very popular ultra left Helen Gahagan Douglas for the Senate in Nixon's native California. The press never forgave him for that.

There was no alternative media then, just the alphabet networks and a few influential newspapers like the New York Times and the Washington Post and with few exceptions, they despised Richard Nixon and everything he stood for. Is it any wonder he returned their distrust and hostility?

Did Richard Nixon try to unearth secret information on those he considered his political enemies? Probably. But did he ever do anything as sleazy as Senate Candidate Barack Obama getting his Republican opponent Jack Ryan's sealed divorce records publicly released and trumpeted over the press? Did he ever deliberately attempt to bankrupt an opposing vice-presidential candidate and her family or attack her children? Yet we somehow never saw the same massive coverage on these and similar items Nixon received for Watergate.

Did Richard Nixon, as president, make some questionable references to Jews? Probably. But it was Nixon, the supposed 'anti-Semite' who cemented the U.S./Israel alliance that saw the Soviets kicked out of the Middle East without a single U.S. soldier needing to be deployed there. And it was Nixon who took action when Israel needed to be resupplied during the Yom Kippur War in 1973, our European allies refused to allow our planes overflight or landing privileges, and the Joint Chiefs of staff were dithering about what to do.

Nixon called them into his office and demanded they send everything that could fly and start getting the supplies to Israel within 48 hours no matter what it took. The result was Operation Nickle Grass, which involved our using mid-air tanker refueling and bypassing the Europeans.Nixon's deadline was met, and as someone who was at Lod airport when the first planes came in later told me, if was as if G-d himself had opened up the skies to succor Israel in its hour of need. The Israelis received not only badly needed supplies but an equally crucial morale boost. They realized they had not been abandoned, and so did the rest of the world.

In this context, it's worth recalling whom the Democrats nominated to run against Nixon in 1972, the left wing, anti-Israel Senator George McGovern. Even my own parents, FDR-style Democrats for life who hated Nixon couldn't stomach pulling the lever for McGovern and simply didn't cast a vote for president that year. One can only imagine what would have happened in 1973 had George McGovern been in the White House.

Which brings us to Watergate.

There was no reason whatsoever to burglarize the Democrat's headquarters at the Watergate Hotel, and Nixon and anyone plugged in to his campaign knew it. McGovern's alienating of conservative Democrats, his frequent gaffes on the campaign trail and the Eagleton affair made that obvious. In the end, McGovern didn't even carry his home state of South Dakota.

With Watergate, the president was faced with what I call a 'Becket' moment. For those of you whom are historically challenged, it refers to the way people around those in power tend to try and build favor with them by anticipating what they think the boss wants based on a casual remark or two and then acting on it.

Nixon never authorized or ordered the Watergate break in, and by all accounts was appalled by it, partly because he realized the possible blowback, partly because he realized how unnecessary it was and what the press would make of it, and partly because it involved long time associates that he felt deserved his loyalty downwards. Instead of doing the obviously smarter thing, he essentially committed obstruction of justice to try and stonewall and cover up what had happened, even though he personally had nothing to gain and nothing to do with the original crime..except, perhaps, helping to create a climate where it could happen.

The whole thing unraveled, mostly because two young reporters named Woodward and Bernstein had themselves an inside source code named 'Deep Throat' and because John Dean, Nixon's White House Counsel arguably violated attorney client privilege to rat Nixon and other members of the administration out. As Nixon had foreseen, the media orchestrated a virtual firestorm over Watergate that did far more damage to the country than the original break in and Richard Nixon was forced to resign.

It's interesting to contrast the way Watergate was treated by the media with the way a fairly similar event involving another president was treated.

When President Bill Clinton was indicted for perjury and obstruction of justice for acts he committed himself directly (as opposed to Nixon), there was a lot of coverage, but it was markedly different in tone. We were told it was 'just about sex, and everybody lies about sex' even though it was done under oath, to Congress and even directly to the American people.Unlike Archibald Cox, who was made a media hero during the Watergate era, Independent Prosecutor Kenneth Starr was demonized as a peeping tom, a dirty minded puritan and a sleaze.

And finally, Clinton wasn't forced to resign.There was no Democrat equivalent of Barry Goldwater in the Senate marching to the White House to demand that he do so. In fact, the Democrats in the Senate were adamant that they weren't going to impeach the first Democrat in the White House in two decades no matter what..and the media never once complained about it.

Perhaps President Nixon had a point about a biased media.

Lastly, let's look at results, the ultimate judgment, shall we?

The end result of Watergate and the way it was ginned up the partisan media had a number of effects, some of which are still with us.

The frenzy over Watergate did a great deal to erode the faith of Americans in their government, and it damaged the institution of a free press by creating the modern climate of advocacy journalism as people getting into the field saw how well Woodward and Bernstein were rewarded and wanted it for themselves.The disgraceful failure to vet candidate Barack Obama in 2008 is the natural consequence.

It helped elect a whole raft of far left, bitterly partisan Democrats to Congress, a number of whom are still with us. Among other things, they were responsible for repudiating the treaty under which President Nixon ended the war in Vietnam honorably. We had pledged to supply South Vietnam and Cambodia with aid in the event of future communist aggression, and President Thieu and Lon Nol signed based on that assurance. When the North Vietnamese and the Khmer Rouge attacked again in 1975, the Democrat-dominated Congress refused to allow funding of the aid we had promised, an dPresident Ford was left helpless to intervene as the communists invaded. Because of this little known but shameful breaking of our pledged word thousands of Cambodians and Vietnamese were doomed to death and to communist slavery.

And Watergate and the media driven prairie fire over the Nixon pardon led to the 1976 election of Jimmy Carter, one of the worst presidents in U.S. history, and the foundation of a number of our current problems in Iran and elsewhere.

Contrast those results with a partial list of the accomplishments of the six years of Richard Nixon's presidency.

He ended the war in Vietnam honorably and decisively and ended the draft, which pretty much finished the anti-War movement and a significant amount of the leftist insurrection in the country with it. He created the first major environmental legislation in decades, the Clean Water Act, and formed the EPA. He helped create the black middle class by passing the first laws on affirmative action and increasing minority hiring in government.

He was for the most part a successful steward of the U.S. economy. His attempts on wage and price controls were only partially successful in coping with inflation brought on by an Arab oil embargo, but he cut government spending and actually attempted to put together a national health insurance plan that was unsuccessful only because the Democrats in Congress killed it. Nixon also stopped an attempt to drain America of its gold by spearheading a plan that allowed the major international currencies to float against each other.

He opened the U.S. relationship with China, and did it so successfully that future presidents repeatedly used him on missions as an envoy to the Chinese leadership - because he knew all the players and the Chinese respected and trusted him.

With the assistance of Henry Kissinger, he created a detente strategy with Russia that kept the communists contained and further exacerbated the split between Russia and China. It was not until the advent of Jimmy Carter that the Russians felt free to expand again.

He solidified strong U.S. alliances with Israel and Iran, making them in essence the protector of U.S. interests in their respective regions.

Weigh the two sets of results and accomplishments against each other, Richard Nixon's and Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein's.

Who contributed more to America's well being? Who did more damage to America by their actions? Which was more destructive to the country as a whole, Richard Nixon's decision to cover for his subordinates or the decision by the alphabet networks and papers like the Washington Post and The New York Times to create a partisan hurricane over what really was a third rate breaking and entering?



Roland said...

Did Richard Nixon, as president, make some questionable references to Jews? Probably.

I can't tell if the above statement is meant as a joke. There's no 'probably' about it. Feel free to read the transcripts of his own taped recordings. That, along, with the army of people who heard Nixon made paranoid rants about the jews might be able to change your mind.

Like most Jewish Republicans, you seem to fall into this trap of thinking that the Christians who stand up for Israel are out for your best interests. Not even remotely. They have a dispensational, revelatory fantasy in which the end product is either Jews will be converted or left to the rot with the rest of us who don't make the rapture.

Why Republican Jews fall for it is beyond me. It's like John Hagee and his ilk. They've done a good job of luring you into their van with candy, but we all know what happens when they take you home.

Rob said...

Hello Roland,
I'll tell you what...I prefer a president who rants about left wing Jews on occasion but whose deeds speak for him then a president who openly consorts with Jew haters of the worst ilk, has cheerfully attended anti-Semitic events and who is patently anti-Israel but is practiced at reading innocuous platitudes off his teleprompter.

Any day of the week.

Second, your take on Christian Zionism is not only lacking any scriptural basis but factually ignorant as well. Pastor Hagee, (whom I've met) and his congregation have done more for the Jewish people than any number of left-bent secular Jewish organizations like the AJC. You're simply wrong.

The real home of mainstream anti-Semitism in America these days is unfortunately in the Democratic Party. Just ask Al Sharpton or CAIR.

Anonymous said...

An interesting view of Nixon. I have to admit, I never quite looked at it this way.

louielouie said...

peronally i think nixon was ahead of his time regarding his opinion of the media. i also don't think he distrusted them at all. my opinion of course is relative, to my thinking of theshitforbrainssonsofbitches.

Anonymous said...

Nixon was an asshole and a crook. He belonged in jail.

B.Poster said...

This is a very different assessment of Mr. Nixon. Based upon this perspective I think it could be argued he was one of the best presidents in US history!! This certaintly is not a perspective that is regularly taught. At the very least, I think this establishes that Mr. Nixon may not be as bad as Americans are generally taught by the media and the education system.

A couple of thoughts. "The foundation of our current problems with Iran" goes back to the overthrow of the popular democratically elected government of Iran in the early 1950s. As such, any thing Iran does to us is justified. America "had it coming."

I'm NOT saying I believe this narrative but it is the narrative that is being propagated by most world leaders, the world's education elite, and the news media. The truth is likley much more complicated than the narrative.

While you've done a relatively good job here of countering the narrative, the American government needs to do a better job in this area. Unitl they do, we will not get the necessary international support that we need to effectively confront Iran. Any support we have, will be tepid at best and will abandon us the moment the going gets even slightly tough.

While I was aware of Operation Nickle Grass on the part of the Nixon Administration, I was not aware of these other things. The typical narrative on Mr. Nixon is of something akin to a leper or some other very unclean thing.

I'm forever in awe of the courage Operation Nickle Grass required. The United States was faced with a situation where an ally was in trouble. The primary supporter of the enemies of this ally was the Soviet Union. At the time the Soviet Union had the most powerful military forces on earth. In spite of this, Mr. Nixon and his team stood firm.

Maybe members of his Administration threatened the Soviets with nuclear retaliation should the Soviets have intervened. In such high stake brinkmanship their likely comes a time when one asks of their opponent, "is he bluffing or is he serious?" The Soviets likely concluded Mr. Nixon just might be serious and stayed out of it.

Through out most of the Cold War American nuclear weapons served as a counter to Soviet forces that were superior in almost ever area. Essentially if the US wants to survive, let alone thrive in the coming years, it and its leaders will have to learn to have a different perspective on nuclear weapons than the what the currently have.

Anonymous said...

" Anonymous said...
Nixon was an asshole and a crook. He belonged in jail."

Obama is far worse. He's actively working to build up the Islamic governments in the M.E. and to reduce our defenses against Russia. Obama and Holder have lied about Fast and Furious, which has killed Americans and which appears to be an attempt to destroy the second amendment. Obama belongs in jail.