Nixon Was A Piker

5 comments May 18th, 2007at 11:37am Posted by Eli

Yet another vote for Dubya as worse than Nixon:

Having been in Washington for only 53 years, I cannot from personal exposure espouse the view that the current president is the worst in American history. I have observed only 10 of them since reaching the age of reason, so I can judge only that he is the worst in my adult lifetime.

From World War II to date, there is in my mind and experience only one serious and obvious competitor: Richard Nixon. I say that not simply because he was the first president to resign from office in scandal and disgrace. Well before the Watergate affair that eventually was his undoing, he had compiled a long record of deception, deceit and duplicity.


Nixon’s sins basically grew from an unquenchable lust for power. He was determined to hold on to what he had and to get more and more of it, contrived through secrecy and an anything-goes political ethic that in time poisoned much of his five-and-a-half-year presidency.


George W. Bush, on the other hand, who ran in 2000 as a unthreatening “compassionate conservative,” soon encountered a crisis and a fateful opportunity that put him on a different mission. He seized on the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, to segue from domestic affairs and a legitimate self-defense invasion of Afghanistan to a radical foreign policy of supposedly preventive war in Iraq.


In a bold display of opportunism, Bush anointed himself as a “war president” who capitalized on a combination of American patriotism and fear to set the nation on its current course. As Zbigniew Brzezinski, the national security adviser in the Carter administration, has written, Bush’s use of the phrase “war on terror” was “a classic self-inflicted wound” that intentionally created “a culture of fear in America,” enabling him to mobilize the public behind his military actions.

This almost overnight plunge into foreign-policy unilateralism, transparently masquerading as a “coalition of the willing” in Iraq, dealt a severe blow to this country’s reputation and support in the international community, effectively built over the previous half century of cooperation and Cold War containment.

The whole adventure, compromised by the faulty intelligence used to sell the United Nations and the American people on the invasion of Iraq, was marked by an inept assessment of and inadequate response to the long-term challenge on the ground.

Like Nixon in 1972 winning re-election by feeding off unrest and violence in the streets, Bush in 2004 tapped into post-9/11 fears and appeals to patriotism to gain a second term. Although there is not yet any domestic scandal of Watergate dimensions hanging over him, an odor of incompetence in the management of the war, in the care provided to returning wounded, and in the disarray of his Justice Department stifles the atmosphere for his remaining time in the White House.


While Bush continues to have the power of the veto with which to combat the Democratic challenge, he is staggering toward the finish line of his presidency. Whatever happens in Iraq, there seems little chance that history will accord him any positive legacy for his eight years of over-reaching in foreign policy and abuse of civil liberties at home.

Nixon’s fall from grace in 1974 cast a heavy shadow over some historic achievements, most notably his opening to China. But his sins, deplorable as they were, mostly concerned domestic matters. They did not leave his party in the hole that Bush’s radical adventurism abroad has dug for the Republicans, and for the country he has so catastrophically led, without any compensating accomplishments akin to Nixon’s, domestic or foreign.

During the Nixon years, I never thought I would see another president who would almost make me wish we had him back. Almost. Thankfully, 21 months from now the voters will have other choices, whatever they turn out be.

For all his many faults, Nixon still believed that the government had other functions beyond rewarding friends and punishing enemies. He also understood that presidents have responsibilities, not just privileges.

Indeed, I believe Dubya is the first president in American history who does not understand that the presidency is an actual job. It’s not exactly encouraging whenever he tells us that presidentin’ is “hard work” – of course it’s hard work! He’s managing (and I use the word very loosely) the most powerful country in the world, not a baseball team or a penny-ante oil company.

Worse yet, Daddy’s friends can’t bail him out when it all falls apart. And even when they try (Baker-Hamilton), his response is that of a petulant toddler saying “I’ll do it myself!” and then proceeding to make things even worse, just so he can prove how independent and clever he is.

How I look forward to the time when we can send him to his room and put the grownups back in charge.

Entry Filed under: Bush


  • 1. Donna  |  May 18th, 2007 at 5:44 pm

    For most of my life I was apolitical, I still voted, but wasn’t really energized by politics. I was also probably more informed than most Americans who also seemed apolitical to me, I like to read, I like to watch the news, I like to have some basic knowledge about what is happening in the world. But I was still very naive about politicians. I knew there could be some bad apples out there like Nixon, but thought most were in it for lofty reasons, to serve their constituents, make the country a better place. That’s why I was apolitical, because I was sure we were in good hands with Democrats, and thought well the Republicans are worse but deep down they think they are doing the right thing too. I now believe the majority are in it for themselves, they don’t give a damn about us or the country with only a very few exceptions. Feingold, Kucinich, maybe Edwards. But there are too few of them and too many of the greedy venal pigs. It’s the Bush administration that opened my eyes, it was never so blatant. The run up to the Iraq war wasn’t right, no one else in the world was willing to side with us, so I knew the evidence wasn’t there and couldn’t understand why they were doing this. I thought they must be only playing chicken, that we wouldn’t actually go to war, that allowing the UN inspectors in would put an end to that.

    If you were lying about something, but you knew that someone was going to die for that lie, wouldn’t you come clean and tell the truth? I know I would even if it meant going to prison. I couldn’t live with myself knowing that I allowed an innocent person to die to save face. I’d like to think most Americans would feel this way. This is the part that is still so hard for me to believe that our politicians are so corrupted that human life doesn’t matter, that they have to keep up the lies and let person after person after person die into the hundreds of thousands.

  • 2. Eli  |  May 18th, 2007 at 6:40 pm

    I had kind of a similar experience, except that I realized Bush was bad news well before he was elected. But I had no idea he would be *this* bad; indeed, were it not for 9/11, he probably never would have gotten the opportunity, nor a second term.

    So I have gotten progressively (so to speak) more political ever since then. And yes, Dubya is the first president other than Nixon (who I considered an aberration) of whom I never would have said, “I’m sure he means well; he’s just misguided.” Bush does not mean well, at least not for anyone who’s not a millionaire or evangelical religious fanatic.

  • 3. SPIIDERWEB  |  May 19th, 2007 at 4:28 am

    Go with your gut instinct. He is the worst.

  • 4. Eli  |  May 19th, 2007 at 11:25 am

    Oh, there is no question in my mind. Buchanan, Harding, and Nixon are the only ones who even come close – although I believe McKinley was kind of an unsung corporate looter bastard as well…

  • 5. charley  |  May 19th, 2007 at 2:28 pm

    well, i never cast a vote in my life until 2004.

    to be honest i resent having to do it now. but i am determined to vote in every election until i die or there are no more republicans. which ever comes first.

    of course there will always be stupid, greedy, lying bastards.

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