Saturday, June 09, 2007

Nixon - No Prize There

There seem to be a few folks wandering the face of the earth saying things such as "If you look at what Bush as done, Nixon doesn't seem so bad." or "All things considered, and if you forget about Watergate, Nixon did well." And so on and so forth. With actor Frank Langella apparently about to receive a Tony for his work in Frost/Nixon, ol' banana nose seems to be getting a new look in some memories. That he was, somehow, a better Republican than today's conservative members of that party.

So let's take a moment to thank Elizabeth Drew for reminding those with bad memories, or those who didn't live through the Nixon years (LaPopessa admits her age - I lived through it. I was young, but well aware of the slime emanating from the White House in those years). In her op ed piece in today's WaPo, "Nostalgia for Nixon," Drew reminds us that those things some are giving Nixon credit for today are instead initiatives from the Democratic congress that Nixon didn't have the votes to sustain a veto over. While he pushed some environmental issues after seeing poll after poll that Americans demanded action, he agreed to a few things, but kept his contempt clear, telling Erlichman the environmental movement was "crap for clowns."

From Drew's piece:

Major steps toward improving air quality and water purity were taken during his presidency. But they didn't happen without a fight. Virtually all of these measures originated in Congress, mostly sponsored by Democratic Sens. Edmund Muskie and Gaylord Nelson.

Nixon's effort to replace welfare programs with cash payments, the Family Assistance Plan, urged on him by domestic adviser Daniel Patrick Moynihan, has often been cited as his most progressive domestic proposal. But after Nixon announced the plan on national television, he told H.R. "Bob" Haldeman, his chief of staff, to "make a big play for it, but don't let it pass, we can't afford it." Once the plan was voted down by Congress in 1970 (neither liberals nor conservatives liked it), Nixon set the proposal aside.

So before you polish off your revisionist view of Nixon, take a few trips back to memory lane and remember (even with Watergate aside) why the man was so deservedly hated in his own time.


Blogger moville said...

This was a timely piece. I was beginning to miss the enemies' list myself...

It's interesting that there isn't a lot of enthusiasm for impeachment of this president...someone said that bush is just kind of venial, vaguely embarrassing, beyond reason, hopeless rather than malevolent, so people aren't angry so much as they are just wishing that this administration would be over. i personally wish people had a higher standard for their chief executive.

12:16 PM  
Blogger TomCat said...

Nixon was a terrible President. Only when compared to Crawford Caligula does he look good.

Moville, in my opinion the venial Bush is an act, skillfully woven to hide a Machiavellian monster.

3:38 PM  

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