Tuesday, October 1, 2013


Nixonism - In the piecemeal way that we are taught history, as fables, we slip into the lazy proposition that history is made by great events performed by great men. But the sad fact is that our foreign policy actually grows out of an accumulation of lapses. Where we are today is just the logical point on the slippery slope of where we have arrived through a chain of errors and their cover-ups.

I don't know when it became the constant of U.S. government to preserve itself through lies, but I have the strong opinion that it reached a height under both the vice-presidency and the presidency of Richard M. Nixon. Nixon made the arrogance of oligarchs public, but most probably not by design. To be a really perverse abuser of the government process requires a monumental incompetence and a gargantuan narcissism.

Although Nixon just barely outclassed such ignoble presidents as Franklin Roosevelt and Lyndon Johnson, he nevertheless excelled as a crook. His estate is the imperial presidency, rampant lying, using ends to justify means, paranoia, the tail wagging the dog, megalomania, narcissism, the misuse of government, the metastatic spread of government, and warmongering under the guise of peace seeking. Nixon combined all of the bad attributes of every mediocre-to-bad president we have ever had. And let's not forget Watergate - the idea that presidents were above the law.

In my view, there has been only one good president, Thomas Jefferson. And that is not saying that he performed well as president; it is just saying that he was most likely the greatest man who was ever president. So while, in my mind, the affliction of having a bad president could have been named after any one of 43 bad presidents, somehow Nixon always leaps to my mind as the worst of the worst.

Remember the words of Henry L. Mencken:
"When a candidate for public office faces the voters he does not face men of sense; he faces a mob of men whose chief distinguishing mark is the fact that they are quite incapable of weighing ideas, or even of comprehending any save the most elemental - men whose whole thinking is done in terms of emotion, and whose dominant emotion is dread of what they cannot understand. So confronted, the candidate must either bark with the pack or be lost... All the odds are on the man who is, intrinsically, the most devious and mediocre — the man who can most adeptly disperse the notion that his mind is a virtual vacuum. The Presidency tends, year by year, to go to such men. As democracy is perfected, the office represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. We move toward a lofty ideal. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart's desire at last, and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron."
Someday, I will share with you more thoughts on bad presidents, but today I will share with you my current worst five: 1) Richard Nixon, 2) Franklin Roosevelt, 3) Andrew Jackson, 4) Abraham Lincoln, 5) Lyndon Johnson.

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