‘I was distressed to learn of some of your current problems and wanted to send you a word of encouragement. Since the time Bob Tyrrell introduced us a few years ago, I have been one of your admirers…’ This letter, dated 23 January 1985, was addressed to me and was signed by Richard Nixon. I had it framed and it hangs in my office. The only other letter hanging next to it is from Sir Denis Thatcher, after he and the Lady visited me in Switzerland. Nixon and Thatcher, two vastly misunderstood leaders who one day will be seen rightly as giants among the midgets who preceded and followed them. Lady T I do not know well. President Nixon and I grew close during the late Seventies and Eighties. He was the best-read politician I ever met, which might not be saying much, but his grasp of history was as astounding as the loathing the eastern liberal establishment had for him.
The media’s hate for Richard Nixon rivals that of Hollywood. Here’s William Goldman, screenwriter of All the President’s Men, the film about Watergate: ‘It is not important what is true; it is important what audiences accept is true.’ In other words, go as far as you can with the big lie, just as long as the suckers swallow it. Almost 40 years after Nixon left office, the attacks against him remain relentless. A recent article by a nonentity in the New Yorker refers to the 37th President as politically and personally awful. The nonentity does not qualify this. Was the approach to China an awful thing? Or the one to the Soviet Union? Or the exposure of Alger Hiss as a wartime spy? Or the ending of the draft? Or the creation of the National Cancer Institute? What about the Council on Environmental Quality? Or the most sweeping landslide in history, 49 states and 60 per cent of the vote in 1972? I could go on.
The media is full of bums who wish to prove their liberal credentials by flogging a long-dead president who was by far the greatest leader America has had since Washington and Jefferson. He was the dominant figure on the national stage in the 1940s, 50s, 60s and 70s, and his influence lasted through the 20th century.
In order to illustrate how squalid neoconservative thinking is, Nixon ordered the strategic airlift that saved Israel during the Yom Kippur war in 1973. Kissinger flew into Tel Aviv and Golda Meir declared that Israel never had a better friend than the 37th President and his secretary of state. Now neocons in National Review attack Kissinger for being jealous of Senator Patrick Moynihan and for trying to rein in Moynihan’s freewheeling ways that equated Israel’s policies with those of the United States. Moynihan was only sucking up to Jewish voters in New York state, Kissinger and Nixon were conducting realpolitik with the Soviet Union, which had strong allies among Israel’s biggest enemies.
Nixon and Kissinger were a rare breed of strong-minded leaders who understood history and how the world works. Can you imagine Nixon starting an unnecessary war against an Arab dictator without having heard of the difference between Sunnis and Shiites, in the manner the idiotic George W. did? Can you see Richard Nixon talking about Syria the way the ignorant Hillary Clinton recently did, the Clinton woman not having any knowledge beyond a tenth grade world history? (She keeps repeating the very slogans that have plunged us into the mess we are in today, slogans about democracy and equal rights, slogans that are as alien to Arabs as gay marriage and gay rights are to bush tribesmen in the Transvaal.)
Pat Buchanan recently wrote about Nixon’s centennial in the American Conservative. He finished by quoting Nick Carraway’s words to Gatsby: ‘They were a rotten crowd, you’re worth the whole damn bunch put together.’ Just look at Nixon’s enemies. Most of them rich, left-leaning without a scintilla of understanding of what being poor really means. Nixon was born in a house his father built with his hands, served honourably in the navy during the war, and became a hero to Americans by 1948 when he was so popular in California that the Democratic party did not field a candidate against him. In 1950 he captured a Senate seat with the largest majority in the history of that state.
After his resignation over Watergate, a coup by the Washington establishment that loathed and feared Nixon, who refused to play ball with it, Nixon found himself with something like $500 in the bank. Unlike Clinton and Blair who have made tens if not hundreds of millions by sucking up and getting on boards of shady billionaires, Nixon wrote books to keep the wolf from the door. The critics tried their best to ignore him, but his ideas and political nous were too much for their pettiness and ignorance. I dined with him often, in his house in New Jersey and at some New York restaurants. His grasp of politics was amazing. He gave speeches without notes and without a second of hesitation. What people forget is that Nixon was a determined advocate for the Civil Rights Act of 1957, as well as a trusted ally of Martin Luther King. Lowlifes like the Clintons refer to King as if he were a saint, because they pander to black votes. Nixon was backing him when Bobby Kennedy was chasing communists in Hollywood, long before the sexually voracious Reverend King had become the goût du jour. Have a happy 100th birthday, Mr President, up there where you belong and are.