Monday, August 9, 2004

This Day In History

Now here's something you won't find on a conservative website... But for my dear friend Jared's sake (who is currently serving a mission in Spain) I must take a moment to celebrate this day in history.

30 years ago, Gerald Ford was sworn in as the 38th president of the United States. Though the president best known for falling down the stairs (not once, but often) has his day in history, today is best known for the resignation of Richard Milhouse Nixon.

It nearly slipped my mind until I realized they weren't talking about Henry Kissinger on CSPAN excessively for nothing! It was today 30 years ago that after the Watergate scandal, the debacle of the Nixon tapes, and great scrutiny, Nixon boarded Marine One for the very last time and gave his "peace salute" to the American people.

A man who did very little to promote peace as a war was being waged on foreign soil, though I respect the man for his attempts in China, saluted this country and walked away. He should have been indicted, he should have been impeached, he should NOT have been a coward!

Of course I will get the "what about Clinton?" speech from at least ten people by the end of the week, but in my final moments of free liberal sneering can I just say thanks to Bill Clinton for withstanding the impeachment hearings and staying when his country needed him most. ...Oh and the state funeral he WILL have will be amazing!


Nick Speth said...

I'm sure Clinton's funeral will be splendid, President H. Clinton will make sure of that (that, I think, is a joke, though I can't be totally sure). I've actually gotten to like Clinton in an odd sort of way summed up best by Tony Blair who said, "I found I had to like him, despite all the evidence." So yeah, I'll probably praise Clinton when he dies, but it will be his skills as a speaker, not his policies, with the exception of signing the welfare reform act, and supporting NAFTA. But don't get me talking about Clinton.

Before we talk about Nixon's resignation, let's talk about Nixon's Presidency. Though an ideologically-balanced group of historians recently rated his presidency as "below average," possibly an understatement, let's not forget that Nixon won reelection in 1972 with 520 electoral votes, the most since FDR. Nixon should have won 521, just two short of FDR at his most popular, but one elector that he had earned from Virginia voted for the Libertarian, John Hospers. He won 60.69% of the popular vote, eclipsing all but one of FDR's elections. But come to think of it, he was up against McGovern, so the selection wasn't good.

I can face it, Nixon was a failure in that his presidency ended amidst controversy and scandal, he was forced out of office, the war in Vietnam had turned into a mess. The same survey I pointed to earlier is the subject of a book "Presidential Leadership" edited by James Taranto, and ranks Nixon only above Tyler, Fillmore, Andrew Johnson, Pierce, Harding, and Buchanan. Not exactly great company.

Though not registered as a Republican, I'm sure it will not shock you to find out I vote Republican most of the time. As such I would argue that this aniversary is important also because it began the slow death of the old dour nay-saying Republicanism of the early cold war, and set the stage for the Reagan Revolution to come.

Tara A. Rowe said...

It amazes me somewhat that you are not a registered voter Nick Speth...But I'm sure it won't amaze you that I am a registered Democrat! After my very arrogant and obnoxious post on Nixon, (I'm surprised no one came down on me hard for that post)I've done some reading up and I am starting to feel that the end of the Cold War came with the resignation of Nixon.

I would expect Nixon to be on the below average list of presidents, but he in no way deserves to be amongst Harding. I'd like to see that list...Oh and if you wanted my opinion--there will be a President H. Clinton.

Nick Speth said...

Just so as to make sure that you're not misunderstood. I'm a registered voter, just not a registered Republican.

As to the book on the survey, here's the link:

The survey information is interesting, but perhaps the most interesting there are also essays on each President. In the essays the editor's conservatism comes out, but the raw data is also in it.

The survey puts three presidents as "great" and another eight as "near great" Great were Washington, Lincoln, and FDR, near great were Jefferson, Teddy Roosevelt, Andrew Jackson, Truman, Reagan, Eisenhower, Polk, and Wilson.