Sunday, December 12, 2010

265 hours of newly released Nixon tapes

Think of Richard Nixon as a smarter, gentler version of Glenn Beck. It almost works, and says more about Beck than it does about Nixon.

While 265 hours of newly released tape recordings from his administration might well make for some interesting listening, they probably won't break any new ground with regard to the character of the only President ever to be hounded out of office between elections, a fate a few others have deserved more than he did, and one that his party has attempted to serve to every Democratic president since.

Nixon's bad luck was that he won the 1968 election, instead of 1960, inheriting America's military involvement in Vietnam at its height, and a country divided over what to do about it. That he took personally the criticism that inevitably stemmed from this situation, demonizing his political opponents, reveals a weakness in what was essentially a strong character. He had other weaknesses, of course, but how many people do you know who could go through what he went through and emerge from it only moderately bitter. He was made of sterner-than-average stuff, perhaps not quite up to what we expect from our Presidents, but few are.

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