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August 21st, 2014

Our Nixon ***

 

 

When you think of Richard Nixon, one event comes to mind: Watergate.

 

If a school kid knows one thing about Nixon, it is that his presidency was destroyed by his participation in a small time burglary. And he wasn’t even involved in the crime. All he did was foolishly lie and obstruct justice in order to cover it up.

 

If Nixon had simply come clean about his administration’s involvement in the break-in in 1972 and fired the Plumbers, he might be remembered as an excellent president.

 

Few presidents accomplished more than Richard Nixon. He signed a spending bill that balanced the federal budget during war time. His focus on law and order helped lead the United States from the riots and turmoil of the 60s to the peace and normalcy of the 70s.

 

His innovative triangle foreign policy made the Cold War much less frosty. Nixon buddied up with Brezhnev and set the stage for the “peaceful coexistence” that marked the last 20 years of the Cold War. Just a few short decades after the bloody, bitter war in Korea, Nixon boldly visited China – normalizing relations with the burgeoning empire.

 

It’s odd that Nixon is still so hated by the left. Some of his major domestic accomplishments were pretty darn liberal.

 

Candidate Nixon ran on the promise to end the draft. In 1973, the last American man was forced to enlist in the military. That’s a very big deal. I personally thank Richard Nixon for letting me go to University of Delaware after high school instead of straight to basic training.

 

Few people equate Tricky Dick with Al Gore. But the inconvenient truth is that the Nixon Administration did more for Mother Earth than the Clinton administration. In 1970, Nixon announced the formation of the Environmental Protection Agency. The same year, the president signed a massive extension of the Clean Air Act.

 

The fair-minded documentary “Our Nixon” gives us a peak at inner workings of his presidency. The movie really has the inside scoop. It uses recently uncovered Super 8 video footage that was taken by three high ranking members of the Nixon cabinet – Dwight Chapin, HR Haldeman, and John Ehrlichman – as well as interviews with them done years later.

 

These men have every reason to look back in anger. They all served time in federal prison due to their involvement in the Watergate cover-up. Surprisingly, though, they look back fondly to the heady early days of the Nixon White House.

 

They remember the laughter, the camaraderie, and the feeling that they were part of something great. They remind viewers that Richard Nixon was on his way to becoming one of the most popular presidents of the 20th Century. In 1972, he won reelection by carrying 49 states and more than 60% of the vote.

 

Watergate made sure that Nixon will never be remembered as the Republican FDR – just as a lying crook who sold his friends up the river.

 

“Our Nixon” is an effective film. It gives us a candid look at an interesting, important, complex man. And it teaches two valuable lessons:

 

1. Never trust a president. 2. When you have done something wrong, just come clean. The cover-up could end up being worse than the crime itself.

 

 

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