Marvin Kalb: Diminishing Nixon

Roundup: Talking About History

Marvin Kalb, a distinguished journalist and longtime director of the Shorenstein Center at Harvard, is currently a visiting fellow at the Center for the National Interest. He is co-author of "Haunting Legacy: Vietnam and the American Presidency from Ford to Obama," to be published by Brookings in late May, 2011.

“No event in American history,” Richard Nixon once wrote, “is more misunderstood than the Vietnam War. It was misreported then, and it is misremembered now.”

With a generous heart, one could say pretty much the same thing about Richard Nixon himself. He was misunderstood, misreported and misremembered. He was, in fact, a great president, many of his friends—and a few others—still believe. Who better in foreign affairs, for example? A mistake or two, yes, but who hasn’t made one? Moreover, Watergate was a contrived conspiracy, according to some of his supporters, a concoction of the liberal media, which “accused and vilified” the president and his “pals.”

“So unfair,” lamented blogger Anne Walker, wife of Chairman Ron Walker of the Nixon Foundation. The pals were “convicted of perjury, not wrongdoing,” she wrote, with apparent seriousness, and “end[ed] up in prison.”

Unlike most other presidents, Richard Nixon seems never able to rest in peace. Apparently, not even at the Nixon Library...

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