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Friday, May 28, 2004

The Return of Richard Nixon

The U.S. National Archives offers us an expanded look at the presidency and personal behavior of Richard Nixon.

A few words from Hunter S. Thompson's obituary of Nixon are appropriate here (from Better Than Sex, 1994):
...revisionists have catapulted Nixon to the status of an American Caesar, claiming that when the definitive history of the 20th century is written, no other president will come close to Nixon in stature. "He will dwarf FDR and Truman," according to one scholar from Duke University.

It was all gibberish, of course. Nixon was no more a Saint than he was a Great President. He was more like Sammy Glick than Winston Churchill. He was a cheap crook and a merciless war criminal who bombed more people to death in Laos and Cambodia than the U.S. Army lost in all of World War II, and he denied it to the day of his death. When students at Kent State University, in Ohio, protested the bombing, he connived to have them attacked and slain by troops from the National Guard.
. . .
He has poisoned our water forever. Nixon will be remembered as a classic case of a smart man shitting in his own nest. But he also shit in our nests, and that was the crime that history will burn on his memory like a brand. By disgracing and degrading the presidency of the United States, by fleeing the White House like a diseased cur, Richard Nixon broke the heart of the American Dream.

In the Age of Dubya there are some who look back at Nixon's presidency and regard it as "the good old days," much in the same way that some here in B.C. fondly recall the days of Bill Van der Zalm.

It can truthfully be said that the Zalm was no Nixon and that Gordon Campbell is no George W. Bush (although he certainly is trying hard). But it is also true that the Nixon presidency marked the beginning of the Political Crazy Years: the ethical downward plunge that made Zalm, Gordo, Ronzo, The Iron Maiden, Lyin' Brian and Dubya frightening realities. History will judge them too.

Res ipsa loquitur...