Sunday, December 28, 2008


Up until very recently, Richard Milhous Nixon was probably the worst president in U.S. history. Before Nixon, you could have argued that Indian killer Jackson was our worst, but then Tricky Dick came waltzing up with a sweating upper lip and a brain squirming with Cold War paranoia and red-baiting anti-communist fear, with secret wiretappings and enemies' lists, with an escalation of the Vietnam war and the secret Christmas bombings of Cambodia, with the crimes of Watergate and the Kent State killings, with the CIA overthrow of Chile's elected government...and plenty more.

This ambitious, vindictive, petty crook from Yorba Linda went far--to the very top--and he nearly took the country down with him when he fell. Later, Republicans canonized him, rewriting history with a zeal that would have made Soviet revisionists seem like slackers. Fitzgerald said there are no second acts in American lives, but Fitzgerald was wrong in this case. In later years, after memory of his crimes had receded, Nixon playing the role of a respected elder statesman, bringing to mind the line from "Chinatown" spoken by the incestuous tycoon Noah Cross:

"'Course I'm respectable. I'm old. Politicians, ugly buildings, and whores all get respectable if they last long enough."

Two years after his resignation, Nixon was interviewed by British television journalist David Frost. These historic interviews are the subject of a recent film, "Frost/Nixon" (2008). Here are the original interviews.

Old school politics: Richard Nixon and Prescott Bush--two bastards in better days

For extra credit, click button to hear "Richard Nixon Died Today" by Negativland:

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