– Opinion USA Today
The left is today celebrating the 40th anniversary of the resignation of its most despised enemy in the 20th century. But though his fall is being hailed as a triumph of democracy, Richard Nixon was not brought down by any popular uprising. The breaking of his presidency was a product of the malice and collusion of liberal elites who had been repudiated in Nixonâ€™s 49-state landslide in 1972.
Was Nixon blameless in Watergate? By no means. While he had no knowledge of the break-in, he did not act decisively to cut his friends loose, urged aides to curtail the investigation, and failed to tell the people the truth.
Yet the same elites who howled for his impeachment had covered up Mafia molls in JFKâ€™s White House, and the wiretapping and surveillance of Dr. Martin Luther King that began in the Justice Department of Robert Kennedy.
Why did they hate Nixon so?
As a freshman congressman, he had exposed the wartime treason of liberal icon Alger Hiss. He had filleted Adlai Stevenson. Defeated in 1960 by JFK, after an unprecedented turnout from Mayor Richard Daleyâ€™s graveyard wards, and quitting politics after losing the governorship of California, Nixon had resurrected his ruined career, united his shattered party, and come back to capture the presidency.
Then he succeeded where liberalismâ€™s best and brightest had failed. He ended the Vietnam War with honor, brought all our troops and POWs home, opened up China, negotiated historic arms agreements with Moscow, ended the draft, desegregated southern schools, enacted the 18-year-old vote, created the EPA, OSHA and National Cancer Institute, and was rewarded by a grateful nation with a 61% landslide.
Even as Watergate broke, he ordered the airlift that saved Israel in the Yom Kippur War, for which Golda Meir called him the best friend Israel ever had.
His enemies were beside themselves with rage and resentment.
Nixonâ€™s great failing was in not realizing that in the city to which we came in 1969, he was not dealing with garden variety snakes, but with vipers.
Patrick J. Buchanan, who served as a special assistant to President Nixon, is author of The Greatest Comeback: How Richard Nixon Rose From Defeat to Create the New Majority.
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