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When Can We Stop Beating Up Richard Nixon?

December 2, 2008

History shows it is always easy to hate Richard Nixon, but the real pleasure is digging into history and trying to understand him.

I realized that I was truly a Richard Nixon history buff when I sat and listened (over time) to some 50 hours of Richard Nixon recordings that were available online. The tapes that were recorded by the former President show a multi-faceted human being.  Granted, some are laced with profanity, and human weaknesses, but I also know that others proved the depth of understanding Nixon had on foreign policy, his desire to craft a media message that clearly stated his intentions, and his sharp analytical skills dealing with American politics.

Today another set of tapes were released, and the same folks that always snarl at such recordings are back in full force.  While I would never condone the actions of Watergate or related activities, I also have never forgotten the brilliant mind that the 37th President possessed.  While I too will read, and hopefully hear the tapes that were released today, I know how to put them into the broader perspective of his years on the national stage.  Richard Nixon has been a many decades long fascination of mine, and I find it more pleasurable to try and understand what made him tick than continually beat him up.  I can assure my readers that Nixon is a treasure trove of history!

The fact that these recordings exist allows us into the inner workings of a White House.  I am fully convinced that the inner workings of any Administration, if tapes were made and allowed to be heard, (such as with LBJ) would make many blush, gasp, and be outraged.  Nixon had the ability to burn the tapes, but chose not to.  Lets give him credit for allowing history to be the final judge.  

But then let us judge Richard Nixon in the context of the times he lived, and the experiences of his life.  To do anything other than that is just wrong.

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One Comment
  1. gentledove permalink
    December 2, 2008 5:45 PM

    As a lover of U.S history I also think that Nixon was a great leader, the tension always seems to be between what he knew were harsh realities and his Quaker upbringing, perhaps even between father and mother. Yes foreign policy but he also was the republican president who executed a massive u turn in domestic and social policy and that not out of neccesity but for philosophical reasons, a later history to come will be kinder to his memory [I think]and those tapes themselves will become a source of history. kind regards to you.

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