Friday, June 03, 2005
He was just misunderstood
Some of the funniest cartoon strips I read was just after Nixon's death, when every paper and commentator gave him a respectable and laudatory sendoff. Now, there is nothing wrong per se with that, and the man did do a lot of good in many areas - to take one example, foreign affairs. We need a man with his talents now badly. However, in all the tripping speech and fulsome praise, Mr. Nixon's baser acts were given short shrift. It was almost like reading the obituary of a man who loved his mother, wife, neighbors, gave to charities and attended church faithfully, pet stray dogs lovingly, and never cursed. Then the last sentence reads, "If not for the two people John Smith killed while driving drunk, he would indeed have been the perfect man."
Well, Gerry Trudeau found some humor in it, and went back and dug up his Watergate strips, blotting out the original line and replacing it with a more kind one. After a list of Nixon's misdeeds that originally ended with the line, "If he'd only knock over a bank, we'd have him!", now came the line, "BOY, he's an original guy!"
With W. Mark Felt coming out as Deep Throat, the right wing of the party is in full-on Doonesbury mode. Felt is the villain, Nixon - why, Mr. Nixon was just a great ol'guy! Didn't do nothing wrong besides lie (which, apparently, was viewed much worse under Clinton). You know, people who took him out, they're responsible for the of Vietnam and Cambodia! (Which must make Gingrich et al. responsible for al Qaeda.)
Oh well. Read The Moderate Voice's post on this, and watch how he eviscerates one of the revisionists, Ms. Noonan. Keep in mind that while some people yapping are on the outskirts of the Reps - Buchanan, Liddy - Ms. Noonan and Ben Stein are usually viewed as in the mainstream.
Also keep in mind that Nixon was indeed guilty of, at the very very least, ordering a coverup. The columnists singing his praise now don't even bother to mention that in the last sentence.
LATER THOUGHTS: This column by David Broder makes excellent points. (Hat tip: The Moderate Voice) The attitude of "loyalty above legality" still holds firm for many of the Watergate convicts and alums, to the exculsion of reality. Here's a tip, guys - when you have to retreat to the old adage, "My side right or wrong", you're usually arguing about something that's considered WRONG in the first place.