Commentary: Remembering Nixon’s Legacy 30 Years After His Death

Richard Nixon
by David Keltz


Richard Nixon, the 37th president of the United States, died 30 years ago this week—on April 22, 1994. And while it may be hard to remember a Republican the left despised more than Donald J. Trump—Nixon probably takes the cake.

It was not so much how the former California Congressman and two-term Vice President governed or his introverted personality but rather his adversarial relationship with a hostile media, his sheer determination, intelligence, lawyerly command of the facts, exceptional understanding of both foreign and domestic policy, and his effectiveness as commander in chief that caused the left to view Nixon as persona non grata.

It’s true that the Vietnam War was becoming increasingly unpopular and was unfairly labeled “Nixon’s War,” but the reality is that the 540,000 American soldiers fighting in Indochina had been sent there by the previous two Democrat presidents, John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson.

Nixon made clear in his Memoirs that he was not pleased with the situation in Vietnam, writing in his diary in January 1973, “The war continues to take too much of our attention from other international issues, such as the Mideast, and it also has a detrimental effect on our international relations, not only with the Soviets and the Chinese but even with our allies.”

That being said, Nixon did not want to see an American ally defeated at the hands of the communist North Vietnamese. In contrast with our current president’s disastrous Afghanistan withdrawal, Nixon had enough awareness to understand that he could not simply bring all of the troops home at once if the situation on the ground did not allow it.

Instead, he opted to gradually withdraw U.S. troops and lend support to the South Vietnamese, including when he ordered the Cambodian incursion in May 1970 and the bombing of North Vietnam in May and December 1972. Nixon’s decisive actions saved countless American and South Vietnamese lives and, contrary to popular belief, was widely supported by the American public. The only people who strongly disapproved were anti-war hippies, a Democrat-controlled Congress, and the legacy media.

Anyone who the left and the corporate media cannot bulldoze into submission—and has the willpower to endure their relentless and never-ending attacks without sacrificing their core principles, their values, and their beliefs—in order to appease a small minority of coastal elites is almost automatically viewed as an enemy of the state.

In fact, one could argue that if Nixon did not have an “R” next to his name, many of his policies would not only have been embraced by today’s Democrat Party, but maybe even celebrated.

For instance, in 1970, Nixon created the Environmental Protection Agency as a response to increasing concerns over conservation and air pollution. He also pledged $100 million to fight the war on cancer, leading to the creation of national cancer centers.

Yet, I don’t recall “environmental expert” and “climate change” alarmist Al Gore ever having much praise for Nixon.

Nixon also deserves a lot of credit for improving opportunities for female athletes. He signed Title IX in 1972, a civil rights law that prevented gender bias at colleges and universities that receive federal aid. One year prior to signing Title IX into law, Nixon congratulated tennis icon and fellow Californian Billie Jean King with a phone call—after she won 16 tournaments and over $100,000 in prize money—a remarkable sum at the time, in the inaugural year of the Virginia Slims Circuit.

As an aside, it is highly dubious that Nixon would consider biological boys competing against biological girls as any sort of progress or fairness as it pertains to women’s sports.

There were other policies that Nixon enacted that the left would probably welcome today.

In 1973, Nixon formally ended the draft in favor of an all-volunteer U.S. military force. He advocated for and began the peaceful and long overdue process of desegregating southern schools. He lowered the voting age from twenty-one to eighteen, enabling America’s youth to have a louder voice in the political arena, and he authorized the joint work between the FBI and Special Task Forces, effectively eliminating organized crime and resulting in over 2,500 convictions by 1973.

Contrary to the leftist myth that Nixon was supposedly an anti-Semite, he was fervently pro-Israel—both in public and in private. Here is how Nixon described the importance of America’s relationship with the Jewish state in remarks he gave at the B’nai B’rith Convention in Washington in September 1968.

“We support Israel because we oppose aggression in every form. We support Israel because it is threatened by Soviet imperialism, and we support Israel because its example offers long-range hope in the Middle East. What they have done there offers hope of what could happen elsewhere. There is another reason that goes beyond diplomacy,” Nixon said. “Americans admire a people who can scratch a desert and produce a garden. The Israelis have shown qualities that Americans identify with: guts, patriotism, idealism, a passion for freedom. I have seen it. I know. I believe that.”

Unlike Biden, who has cozied up to the Mullahs even as they fired more than 300 drones and missiles at Israel this past week while continuing to lecture its leaders on how to fight for its survival in a clear effort to pander to the radicals in his base, Nixon understood that the Jewish state is not simply an important ally merely because of the Jewish vote; it is an important ally because it is the only country in the Middle East that embraces freedom. And for the record, Nixon did not only express that view publicly. He said as much in private memos to Henry Kissinger throughout his presidency.

Nixon’s other significant policy achievement included, with the help of Kissinger, normalizing relations with The People’s Republic of China (PRC). During Nixon’s historic visit in February, 1972, which ended twenty-five years of isolation between the two countries, the 37th president toasted Chinese Premier Chou En-lai at a banquet in the Great Hall of The People and tried to bridge the gap between the two countries, saying:

“We have at times in the past been enemies. We have great differences today. What brings us together is that we have common interests which transcend those differences. As we discuss our differences, neither of us will compromise our principles. But while we cannot close the gulf between us, we can try to bridge it so that we may be able to walk across it,” Nixon said. “So let us, in these next five days, start a long march together, not in lockstep, but on different roads leading to the same goal, the goal of building a world structure of peace and justice… The world watches. The world listens. The world waits to see what we will do… There is no reason for us to be enemies.”

If only that were still true today.

But while Nixon advocated for and advanced several policies that were not by any means conservative in the classical sense, similarly to Trump, his biggest obstacles remained overcoming a biased and dishonest press.

The legacy media and Nixon’s mutual disdain for one another are well documented. Their quarrels ramped up in 1948 before the House Committee on Un-American Activities, during then Congressman Nixon’s tough questioning of Whittaker Chambers—a former member of the Communist Party and a senior editor at Time magazine—whom Nixon repeatedly pressed on his relationship with Alger Hiss, the former State Department official who was accused of espionage and was later convicted of perjury.

Before Trump went around slamming the “fake news” for deliberately peddling false narratives and injecting opinion into so-called “straight news” columns, Nixon was perhaps the most vociferous modern Republican who repeatedly sparred with the media and pointed out their obvious partisanship. As Nixon said after his 1962 California gubernatorial defeat on Nov 7, 1962, in what at the time was billed as his last “press conference.”

“Never in my 16 years of campaigning have I complained to a publisher, to an editor, about the coverage of a reporter. I believe a reporter has got a right to write it as he feels it,” Nixon said. “I believe if a reporter believes that one man ought to win rather than the other, rather it’s on television or radio or the like, he ought to say so. I will say to the reporter sometimes that I think well, look, I wish you’d give my opponent the same going over that you give me…You won’t have Nixon to kick around any more, because, gentlemen, this is my last press conference.”

Perhaps today’s journalists at The New York Times, The Washington Post, or the ones on CNN and MSNBC who spew non-stop anti-Trump and anti-conservative drivel would do well to finally admit that they will not call balls and strikes fairly—because they have a vested interest in seeing the Democrat Party remain in power at all costs, which explains why they repeatedly do everything they can to smear and besmirch the GOP—while ignoring negative stories that will adversely affect their team.

Does anyone actually believe that Biden would have any shot of returning to the White House if the media did its job and held him accountable for his disastrous foreign and domestic policy decisions, excessive inflationary spending, and frequent bouts of senility?

But I digress.

After Nixon’s questionable defeat to JFK in 1960, he could have easily gone off into the sunset, but instead he gave the presidency another shot in 1968, and this time was rewarded with a victory over Democrat Vice President Hubert Humphrey.

Nixon subsequently won reelection in 1972 in one of the biggest landslides against George McGovern, winning 520 electoral votes, including 60 percent of the popular vote, and carrying 49 out of 50 states.

“I only know one person who voted for Nixon. Where they are, I don’t know,” New Yorker film critic Pauline Kael proclaimed after the election, proving yet again how out of touch the mainstream media was and is.

Then the  Watergate scandal did him shortly into his second term. Never mind that there is no evidence that Nixon had any involvement in the break-in at the Watergate hotel, nor did he need any help winning that election. But Nixon had lost in the court of public opinion, and was almost certain to be impeached in the Senate.

He chose to announce his resignation on the evening of August 8, 1974, in an Oval Office address, stating, “I have never been a quitter. To leave office before my term is completed is abhorrent to every instinct in my body. But as President, I must put the interest of America first.”

Despite the fact that we’re approaching the 50th anniversary since Nixon served in the White House, he continues to be the subject of numerous books, films, and TV shows—many of which are short on historical accuracy and follow a familiar theme about Nixon and his associates supposedly being a grave “threat to our democracy.” Haven’t we heard that before to describe another former Republican president?

Isn’t it about time that a new book or film came out that covered all of the positive deeds that Nixon did for this country—including defeating the scourge of communism?

It is my contention that, in the long run, history will judge Nixon more favorably. Nothing was ever handed to him. He worked for everything he achieved—including when he fought his way onto the football team at Whittier College, despite only weighing 150 pounds as a freshman.

His character and grit can best be captured by this line in his farewell address to the nation on August 9, 1974.

“The greatness comes not when things go always good for you. But the greatness comes when you’re really tested, when you take some knocks, and disappointments, when sadness comes. Because only if you’ve been in the deepest valley can you ever know how magnificent it is to be on the highest mountain.”

Thank you, President Nixon, for reminding us what a strong and competent leader looks like.

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David Keltz is the author of “The Campaign of his Life” and “Media Bias in the Trump Presidency and the Extinction of the Conservative Millennial.” His writing has been published in The American Spectator, RealClearPolitics, American Greatness, the Federalist, the American Thinker, and the New York Daily News, among other publications.
Photo “Richard Nixon” by manhhai. CC BY 2.0.







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