Conrad Black: Tears and Nixon

tags: Richard Nixon, Conrad Black, National Review, emotions



Conrad Black is the author of Franklin Delano Roosevelt: Champion of FreedomRichard M. Nixon: A Life in FullA Matter of Principle, and the recently published Flight of the Eagle: The Grand Strategies That Brought America from Colonial Dependence to World Leadership. He can be reached at cbletters@gmail.com.

...I was steadying down from this unutterably inane and sexist exploration of irrelevant human traits, when, of a sudden, there came down, like Japanese Zeroes over Pearl Harbor, CNN’s treatment of home movies of Nixon White House staffers. This was billed as Nixon as candidly viewed by his closest collaborators, revealing and new material. Like almost all keyhole peeps or recorded reflections of Richard Nixon, it was breathlessly flagged as a great leap forward in Nixonology. Given the subject and the source, I was naturally prepared to fear the worst; that we were all in, once again, for a dramatic breakthrough in discovering how the only person in the country’s history apart from Franklin D. Roosevelt to be nominated by a major party for national office five times (both won four times) grew horns and cloven feet that he disguised until they were exposed by the Washington Post. All the original film was completely innocuous and not in the slightest discreditable to Richard Nixon or to his entourage, who commented on aspects of the Nixon era.

But the clips of their amateur films were rarely related to their subsequent reflections, and were spliced together in a completely dishonest and unprofessional pastiche designed to reinforce the imposed conventional wisdom that Nixon was evil. The basic premise, of course, is never presented or analyzed. Instead, we have such soothsayers as Mike Wallace, a man who gave new warmth, depth, and color to the phrase “great liberal death wish,” which he personified, recounting that various Nixon aides went to prison, as if that proves anything. So have tens of millions of others in the U.S. (including me), but it doesn’t mean, in that turkey-shoot of a criminal-justice system, that anyone is guilty of anything, though many are. But these individuals were convicted of perjury or related offenses. The infected myth that has been slathered over the Nixon legacy is not that the Nixonians didn’t tell the truth to grand juries. It is, in the climactic allegation of this monstrous avalanche of defamatory falsehoods, the claim, attributed to Leon Jaworski, the overindulged successor to the rabid Kennedy lickspittle Archibald Cox as Watergate special prosecutor, that Nixon was trying to nazify American public life....




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