40 years ago today, the 37th President of the United States, Richard Milhous Nixon, left office in disgrace.
A former friend of mine once declared Nixon “the last liberal,” citing his establishment of the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, as well as his involvement in school-desegregation, affirmative-action and women’s rights efforts. Of course, the positive aspects of the Nixon administration were profoundly overshadowed by the repugnant aspects—not just Watergate, but the ghastly Southern Strategy that divided this country on racial lines, the sabotage of the 1968 Paris Peace Talks in order to win the presidency in the first place, and the woeful decision to place the destructive Lewis Powell—the godfather of what David Brock once called the “Republican Noise Machine”—on the US Supreme Court in 1971.
I’ll say this about Nixon: he was wrong, crooked, and vile in a great many ways—but on his worst day, he was better than George W. Bush.
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