The Fort Smith Times Record (which would later become known as The Southwest Times Record) had the prophetic headline back in 1969.
My father was never a fan of Richard Milhous Nixon but he was part of the silent majority who voted for him in 1968. For art’s sake however, my Dad found Nixon’s visage a fascinating challenge to carve.
Ever since Nixon’s anti-communist days the media have had their longest and sharpest knives out after the man, and they arguably have spent more hours and more ink from the years of the era of Nixon and beyond, viciously carving into the character and presidency of Richard M. Nixon than any other investigative project except Iran-Contra.
The media thought they had Nixon before the Checkers speech, but the man came back. He served as President Eisenhower’s vice president. But he lost in the 1960 presidential election to John F. Kennedy. After Nixon lost the race for Governor of California to Pat Brown by 300,000 votes he made this emotional statement, “You won’t have Dick Nixon to kick around anymore.”
Nixon seemed out in 1962 but he moved his family to New York City, worked as a senior partner in a law firm, made some low key speeches, supported some congressional candidates, wrote an important foreign policy piece about Asia in Foreign Affairs and when 1968 rolled around, he was in, again.
The medias’ long national nightmare began again. All along, Republicans had remembered Richard Nixon. They embraced him and supported him and nominated him as their candidate in 1968.
This Nixon-media hate fest became a low rated media event many Americans thought little of. In fact, in many cases Richard Nixon benefitted from the negative coverage because, although there were only three networks during that time, Americans could see through the media filters. The Silent Majority was aroused and Nixon deployed his Southern Strategy.
The American people weren’t having any of it in 1968 and 1972 and the Dan Rathers, and the Woodwards and Bernsteins became the media’s revenge. The sins and human inadequacies of the man pale in comparison to some presidents of the past but that was not important to these journalists who in this specific case of Nixonian Derangement Syndrome could only see the tiny mote in the eye of Nixon and ignored the giant beam in their own.
It had to be done, you see.
After all, Nixon despised communists. He believed Whittaker Chambers.
He disliked all the wrong people.
The beat goes on today. One would think the fifty year Nixonian hate fest would finally die a natural death. It’s as if the media and Hollywood have a secret tribal ritual whereby, in order to prove their manhood, the participants take on the pen, the camera and the shovel to dig into archival material, in a search for anything at all that hasn’t been uncovered that they can use to pound Richard M. Nixon deeper and deeper into the earth.
Ron Howard, in his new film, Frost/Nixon has made from all accounts a well received attempt to remind the world at large, again, in this new generation, of the venal sins of Richard M. Nixon and perhaps, for Howard, an entrée into that exclusive Society of the Manhood of the Haters of Nixon. (SMHN)
It’s odd that this secret organization seems to have no female members for some unknown reason.
Too much emotion ruled the heart of the man with the intellect of a titan. At the height of his popularity with the American people Nixon was still fighting his interior war with his enemies in the media. The press couldn’t give up their vendetta with him and Nixon would not dispel his feelings of bitterness towards his real enemies.
When Richard Nixon won re-election overwhelmingly in 1972 he was haunted by his enemies in the press, the Democrat Party and the anti-war movement. He approved some criminal activities to investigate the Democrats and the anti-war activists and there were tapes which proved it.
Yes, Nixon was disgraced. He left office as a failed American president. The man went away for a while and began to write.
He emerged later as a private citizen. The nearly twenty extraordinary years Richard Nixon spent as a private American citizen and elder statesman were perhaps as valuable as those which preceded. From the books, the travels, the time spent with senior American leaders, the conversations with the press, and the talk with David Frost, Richard Nixon managed his comeback with grace.
His death on April 22nd of 1994 and his state funeral in Yorba Linda, California had all of America and much of the world standing silent in honor of his complex but valuable presidency and life.
Ron Howard’s movie has some invented conversations which imply that Nixon was drunk in an important scene (a plastered president, so to speak) so of course, the viewers who attend movies for a history lesson will believe it, which is sad.
The media has hopes of presenting the Frost/Nixon film as a metaphor for President Bush’s time in office. They plan to paint Nixon’s face onto George W. Bush’s without benefit of any historical evidence.
At a recent screening of the film in Washington D.C. sponsored by the National Geographic Society Headquarters (who know something about tribal rituals) Ron Howard, Peter Morgan, James Reston Jr. and historian Robert Dallek were discussing the similarities of the presidencies of Nixon and Bush and were challenged by their notions by Fox News’ Chris Wallace who spoke truth to power…..
But then “FOX News Sunday” host Chris Wallace, braving the liberal wind, asked a question, which was actually more of an accusation. “To compare George W. Bush to Richard Nixon is to trivialize Nixon’s crimes and is a disservice to Bush,” Wallace said. Recalling that 3,000 people were killed on 9/11, and noting that there hadn’t been any attacks on U.S. soil since, Wallace suggested that something had been done right. That’s why, he said, “we are all sitting here tonight so comfortably”—and not afraid of another terrorist attack. Moreover, Wallace said, “Richard Nixon’s crimes were committed solely for his own political gain, whereas George W. Bush was trying to protect the American people.” To suggest otherwise, Wallace insisted, “was a grave misrepresentation of history, then and now.” And, amazingly, Wallace received a smattering of applause.
Seemingly not wanting to get into a fight with the TV newsman, Dallek answered that we knew full well of Nixon’s criminality because of the Watergate tapes, but that no similar documentary record existed yet for Bush. Only when such information comes out, Dallek suggested, would the full horror of Bush’s presidency become visible. Which, of course, proved Wallace’s point: It was not fair to equate proven facts about Nixon with mere allegations about Bush.
“You make suppositions on no facts whatsoever,” Wallace concluded.
“Do you read The New York Times?” Dallek countered. That might not have been the strongest comeback ever, but it worked just fine with this audience. And with that, the Q & A session resumed its liberal course for the rest of the evening.
“Suppositions on no facts whatsoever” are accusatory but apt words from a newsman who is free from the entanglements of that exclusive society who have spent their lives dissecting the political corpse of Richard M. Nixon because of his political ideology. What’s past is prologue with this particular group.
Next on the list for the Daniel Schorrs of the world and their journalistic acolytes?
President George W. Bush.
They couldn’t do it to Reagan but they will attempt to Nixonize the 43rd president.