Impeachment, Nixon, and me

I watched Nixon’s 1974 farewell speech live, with tears in my eyes. Not tears of sorrow; it was actually a bizarre speech. But at the moment’s poignancy and historical weight.

I’d been a fervent Nixon supporter in 1968, and he was my friend. A slight exaggeration, but I did feel a personal connection. In my teens I would write to famous people for autographs. This was before celebrity culture; they weren’t inundated and would often reply. I wrote to Nixon several times about politics while he was in New York exile after his dual election defeats. Looking toward a comeback, he was working the Republican vineyards; probably didn’t realize I was a kid. Anyhow, he would respond to me not with form letters but meaty disquisitions that seemed obviously personally dictated.

He was my dream presidential candidate, which seemed a pipe dream at first, given the GOP’s crushing 1964 defeat. I was very active in Republican politics, both on campus and in the real world. I signed up with Nixon’s campaign. A huge Nixon poster adorned my bedroom. On Election Day (my first vote), I was a poll worker, then stayed up through the night watching returns. It was a nail-biter.

I remember my elation the next day, commuting to my law school. My classmates were mostly radical left, with only a handful of “out” Republicans. Sixty-eight was such a tumultuous year. But in the end, it was my guy who’d won. I was over the moon.

Later I was actually appointed by Nixon to a minor federal commission.

As Watergate unfolded, I followed events closely. Carefully read the transcripts of White House tapes, and was appalled. The man there revealed was not who we’d thought he was. Most Republicans had the same reaction.

I was as partisan as anyone. Indeed, at the time, deeply engaged in the political wars locally, as a ward leader. But I saw no animus by any Republicans against Democrats over impeachment. It was not a partisan issue, it was about the facts. Nixon resigned because his own party could not condone what he’d done.

Certainly they were not demonizing Democrats as “traitors,” as trying to mount a “coup” to overturn the previous election, or any such nonsense. Even Nixon himself, in that mawkish farewell speech, did not impugn his opponents’ motives.

Trump’s offenses are far worse than Nixon’s. Nixon tried to cover up a “third rate burglary.” Trump, the mis-use of hundreds of millions in U.S. aid, perverting our foreign policy, for his own base political ends. Mulvaney saying this is normal, and we should just “get over it,” insulted our intelligence.

But not only do Republicans defend Trump, their idea of a defense is cooking up false smears against Democrats, like their meritless attack on Adam Schiff for supposedly lying ā€” he didn’t ā€” as if Trump isn’t the biggest liar ever. What a sickening disgrace.

Trump’s behavior shows he’s trying to prove he can get away with absolutely anything. Our president is literally an insane out-of-control monster, a patsy for dictators, yet Republicans still have his back. When Senate Republicans vote to clear him, it will be their final, ultimate degradation. While Democratic presidential canmdidates are off on another planet somewhere fixated on the minutiae of health care plans. If Trump is re-elected, America will need mental health care.

In 1974 we were all Americans, first and foremost. Not blinded by partisan tribalism. We could tell right from wrong. Truth from lies. And true patriots from Russian stooges.

What a different country that was. I mourn for it, with tears of sorrow in my eyes.

8 Responses to “Impeachment, Nixon, and me”

  1. Lee Says:

    Trump has cut taxes, cut domestic spending, appointed conservative judges, and is actively discouraging immigration into our country. These are all political issues and there are voters and politicians who applaud these moves and wish to see more. Failing to be military-first in Syria-Turkey-Kurds, North Korea, Iraq, and Afghanistan is a failing to many of these Trump supporters, but otherwise Trump is their guy for political reasons. The other things that Trump does or does not do are small potatoes in comparison, even those things that are impeachable offenses.

    In this climate, Trump will continue to be supported by many politicians and he will win re-election unless Democrats can explain why their political goals are better for the voters.

  2. rationaloptimist Says:

    I disagree. The destruction of civic society trumps any political or policy issues. Which will not matter ultimately if America’s fundamental character dies. Warren, for example, is anathema to me in many policy respects ā€” but if she’s the nominee I will back her fully because she is decent and sane and understands what America means.

  3. Lee Says:

    @rationaloptimist, I wish you were right. But even “The destruction of civic society” is in the eye of the beholder. Many people believe that if it weren’t for Trump, all those <insert the name of pretty much any minority group here> would be destroying our culture as we know it. I fear that many think that, while his flaws may be impeachable offenses, at least he is on the right side of the important political goals.

  4. Lee Says:

    On the other hand, I think that the Democrats such as Warren do have a chance to persuade the electorate that their political goals are better than Trump’s.

    For example, the Democrat have been doing a lousy job, IMHO, of explaining “free college.” However, statistics are that a college degree earns more than a million dollars more than a high-school diploma over the lifetime of a person. Taxed at, say, a typical federal income tax rate of 20%, this represents revenue to the government of in excess of $200,000, which is more than it costs for four years of college tuition at the vast majority of universities. (Plus, presumably, those who employ the college-educated workers are also making more per person than when they employ those without a college education, and there will be federal income tax on that income too.) One has to be careful with numbers such as these, but it is quite plausible that substantially increased subsidies for college education might actually work the federal budget towards balance rather than deeper into deficits!

  5. ryan71 Says:

    @Lee Your list of political issues, while are true political issues, are extremely counter productive to the US economy. Manufacturing has been using global sourcing for the last two decades. When you say most people applaud I would say they may applaud because they are ignorant of how the US economy and US manufacturing actually works. I might also mention “most” are not applauding…most are “appalled”. The US has a huge middle-class that is fairly educated and can understand how leveling of global economies is actually good for everyone (aka globalization). (i.e. When citizens of Country A can buy products from Country B and likewise you have a much large market.) They also understand that US doesn’t have all the natural resources required for future products. Take the concept of any battery powered product. Where do you think the power supply comes from? Lithium. It comes from China. Take that away and we are sent back 20 years of product development- or it forces you back to oil-based vehicles. Electric car developers are sweating big time right now.

    On another note, I would personally like to see the numbers that compare what the “tax breaks” provided to the average citizen, then compare that to the extra costs that average citizen is paying due to tariffs. I bet they don’t even come close. We can then ask has this president been good the average citizen?

    As for those that are afraid of non-white skin. To quote a recent Trump staffer..”Get over it!” The US has shifted from mainly Caucasian immigrants from Italy, Germany, UK, Poland, and Russia in the 1960 to yellow and brown immigration from Mexico, China, Philippines, Korea and India in 2017. You have to look at these regions and see that they are war torn areas of the world. (Yes, drug war is just as bad as traditional war). So why is this such a bad thing?

    I had to explain to one of Republican friends that those “illegal aliens”, his words, trying to get into the US are NOT “illegal aliens”. They are aliens until they enter the US improperly and those numbers are down not up.
    OK time to step down..next person.

  6. ryan71 Says:

    Sorry, one more thing.
    Fact: 396,579 people were caught illegally crossing the border in the year ending September 30, 2018.
    Source: U.S. Customs and Border Patrol

    Border wall is estimated at $15-25B…is it worth it? Do the math. You could pay each person caught in 2018, $396,500! and that’s the low end. $630,000 at $25B.

  7. Lee Says:

    @ryan, you raise many valid points. In my response above, I didn’t mean to take a side, applaud vs. appalled, in these political issues because that is tangential to the point I was trying to make. I agree that the number of people who are supporting Trump is a minority of the popular vote, but it is also the case that the balance is much tighter in terms of the electoral college. My goal is to argue that people who want to shift the balance would be more efficient if they focus on the political issues rather than on the impeachable offenses. The House of Representatives should impeach the president if that is the legally and morally correct thing to do but I am arguing that, more importantly, a party that wants to win the White House in 2020 should focus its efforts on winning over the voters on the political issues.

    $15B / 400K people is about $38K per person; your figures are too large by a factor of 10. Nonetheless, I think immigration strengthens the nation, so every dollar of that would be counterproductive. However, more open immigration would shift the benefit around, so that some subset of the population would lose out even though the majority is winning. I want to expand immigration and make payments to the adversely affected (or change the tax code, etc.) so that everyone is a winner.

  8. ryan71 Says:

    @Lee
    Darn Excel. Yes you are correct- $38,000. Mea culpa. I’m glad to read your response. I misunderstood your position. And I share the same- more focus and education on the policies. I might add we might want to educate the population on civics and government as well. I recall this was a required class when I was in school. I don’t think that is the case anymore. Shame if it isn’t required.
    Best wishes.

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