A good friend of mine insists that President Richard Nixon was the finest President of the 20th century, and one of the finest of all time. This friend of mine is an intelligent man, and he makes a fairly strong case for Nixon. His assessment is based largely on his belief that Nixon’s diplomatic achievements saved the planet from nuclear annihilation. Between singing the Georgia Tech fight song as a disliked Vice President and pushing open the door between Communist China and the free world, Nixon kept everyone at the table long enough to keep everyone off the trigger.
I like to needle my friend with snappy retorts like:
He did an awesome job with Southeast Asia. “Mess with us, and we’ll secretly bomb the country next to you on the map.” And the home front was such a delight. The ’70s: That was fun. Thanks to “Tricky Dick,” America actually elected Jimmy Carter President. By 1979, the whole country was a suburb of Detroit.
His response to me normally entails the kind of language that he reserves for Georgia-Florida games in which the Bulldogs come up short. (You’d think he’d be used to that by now.)
To be fair, I actually think that had Nixon been Secretary of State and Henry Kissinger been our U.N. Ambassador, the ’70s might have been a lot less costly for everyone. But Nixon’s greatest gift isn’t diplomatic; it’s the legacy he left behind. Nixon challenged the very core of the Constitution, and the Constitution held. Also, there’s loads of really cheap stuff on eBay thanks to “Ping-Pong diplomacy.”
Nixon is hardly lonely on the list of Presidents who lied. Lying wasn’t Nixon’s downfall; hubris was. Nixon forgot that the White House isn’t a palace, and Presidents are not kings. But he was neither the first nor the last to make that error. Witness the progress of the current Lord of the Oval Office.
President Barack Obama has yet to order a “third-rate burglary.” But his belief in his infallibility has turned him into a third-rate President. A couple of weeks ago, terrorists bombed the Boston Marathon. Even the corporate media is now acknowledging the fact that the Russians virtually flipped their furry hats to get someone in the Obama Administration to pay attention to the Tsarnaev boys. Either their warnings were ignored by low-level flacks, or their warnings were ignored by top-level flacks. As a result, the bombers accomplished their goal — not to mention a pretty lush, welfare-funded lifestyle — as a direct result of either Obama’s gross incompetence or deliberate malfeasance. As that fact sank in, the Democrats prayed the perpetrator was a “white American,” and then they made the aftermath a hypothetical conversation about the fact that it could have been. Obama’s failings disappeared in the haze of partisan liberal hate.
That same haze obscures Benghazi, Libya, about which Obama and his minions simply refuse to be forthcoming and may well have threatened witnesses and whistle-blowers; Operation Fast and Furious, for which the Attorney General simply laughed off criminal and civil contempt of Congress; the myriad violations of the Constitution contained in Obamacare (sorry, pro-lifers, the abortion is coming out of your pocket); and bold-faced attempts to assassinate the 2nd Amendment as a result of tragedies that anti-gun laws couldn’t and didn’t prevent.
Grading Presidents is obviously subjective. Out of a belief that steering the ship of state through extremely hazardous waters constitutes Chief Executive excellence, my friend considers Nixon’s accomplishments worthy of greatness. Out of irrational fear of things they don’t understand, naked lust for power or just plain laziness, today’s Democrats think Obama’s arrogant abuses of executive authority are acceptable, because those abuses make life easier for them.
We’ve had some great Presidents in the history of this great Nation. Even the greatest among them was flawed in some way. But they achieved greatness by remembering their true duty was to honor the people and the Constitution that make this Nation great. And just as Nixon’s personal demons clouded his political judgment, Obama’s ego has clearly clouded his.