How would you describe Richard Nixon’s legacy?

Today is the 100th anniversary of Richard Nixon’s birth. Today’s Question: How would you describe Richard Nixon’s legacy?

  • reggie

    Diminishing. (Which is saying something, since it was well tarnished when we left office.)

  • Steve the Cynic

    Other than being a paranoid control freak who was willing to break the law to hold on to power, he wasn’t all that bad. Downsides included his secret bombing of Cambodia and his racially motivated “law and order” policies. Upsides included his diplomatic breakthrough with China, signing important environmental legislation, and being wiling to consider national health insurance. Even considering the Watergate thing, he was less bad than our 43rd president.

  • david

    I was surprised when i found out the EPA was started under his watch. Before then i had never heard a good thing about him. Made me realize the the grand old obstructionist party wasn’t always that way. That’s a phenomena mostly occurring during my life time. Before nixon they had some vision and cared beyond the end of the fiscal year. But i wonder because of all the bad and creepy things he did the party latched onto regan, and raised him to the mythical and fictitious status he holds and the party aspires to today.

    • Steve the Cynic

      Indeed. The first environmentalist president, Teddy Roosevelt, was a Republican. But Nixon was in office when the pendulum of American politics had swung to the liberal end, so that GOP candidates had to be moderates to be credible. After Reagan, when the pendulum was swinging right, Democrats had to do likewise; Clinton had to embrace the GOP’s welfare reforms, and Obama had to take “single payer” off the table and embrace the Republican “mandate” idea in order to get health care reform passed.

  • Jim G

    I remember a sense of foreboding in my teens when he was elected. This feeling was confirmed as we know now that Nixon was profane in private conversation, calculating in policy, and ethically stunted his moral development. His legacy is the continuation of these traits: an anything goes if it helps us win elections mentality prevalent in our divisive politics. This cancerous philosophy, found currently in the splintered GOP, hopefully can be contained and excised before it spreads further.

  • kevins

    I got to meet him (close by in the croud) when he flew in to Dayton OH to dedicate the Air Force Museum. Lots of Vietnam era security there, real guns and all, but I did get a photograph. Voted against him in ’72 however because it became clear he was not able to tell us the truth, and that did not become clear on a widespread basis until the David Frost inerview. Generally, I was happy to see him come, but happier to watch him go, so that’s the legacy. The later China trip was just making up for the bad things. BTW the AF useum is well worth the visit.

  • Ann M

    I was glad that we finally got out of Vietnam during his presidency.He wasn’t the worst and he wasn’t the best.

    • GregX

      He got us out of Viet Nam in the way that Reagan got our citizens out of Iran … through the work of his predecessors.
      He had no choice or alternative in the matter.

      • georges

        Now, dat funni, jack………

        You think LBJ got us out of Viet Nam…….six years after he was president……..HarHarHar

        By that logic, when the last Americans are pulled from Afghanistan, it will be due to the work of George W. Bush, not Barak Hussien Obama.
        It always has been quite clear that gregX is a Bush man……..About time to come out………….and admit it.

  • Sieglinde Gassman


  • Wally

    Nixon was just another crook in a long list. Most of the presidents, starting with FDR, have committed criminal acts in office, or engendered a culture of corruption and secrecy, including the current one. Jimmy Carter had a strong personal ethic of honesty, but it was trumped by scoundrels in his administration like Zbigniew Brzeziński.

    I’ve been reading Judicial Watch’s “The Corruption Chronicles,” which only covers Clinton, Bush II, and Obama. It’s discouraging.

    • Steve the Cynic

      You think corruption goes back only as far as FDR?

  • JasonB

    To the average American, it’s typically one dimensional and simplistic. Most detractors will say he was a crook who did bad things. Most supporters will say he was misunderstood who did some great things. Few will look in-depth.

    People and presidencies are complex, and legacies are usually generalized, revisionist snapshots that change with the times.

  • GregX

    His was the presidency that exposed these types of Machiavellian machinations that every president practices. Love’em or hate’em… they all, to some degree, do this sort of stuff.

    Also alliterative due to his VEEP Spiro T. the man could write the most entertaining speeches….

    My friends,
    we have been admonished by the argy-bargy of addlepated amoralists too long ……

  • georges

    There is no Legacy from Nixon……

    ……or any other president that anyone alive can remember.

    A president is the top employee of the Nation….the top bean-counter…..nothing more, nothing less.

    This insane idea of putting a president on a pedistal….and then walking around the pedistal, looking on the ground to see if the Great One left a Giant Deposit, a Leviathan Gift to us poor peons, something we can admire and gawk at for all eternity, is too absurd to be contemplated in any serious manner.

    Do the job…..count the beans…….for 4 or 8……..then get outta the way and keep yer pie hole shut.

  • Steve the Cynic

    It is often asserted that our current lack of trust in government is a legacy of Nixon, but I don’t think so. Indeed, part of Nixon’s legacy is the election of Jimmy Carter. After Watergate, voters wanted someone honest, and Carter was the most honest president we’ve had since George Washington, which proves we can choose honest politicians if we really want to. But after four years of Carter, voters decided that honesty is not the most important qualification for the job and elected Reagan instead (which I celebrated at the time). We truly get the government we deserve.

    • Sue de Nim

      Adams was pretty honest, too, but like Carter was not re-elected.

  • jockamo

    If Nixon’s scandal ushered in the era of presidential dishonesty, we now have the biggest liar and scandal artist ever. Well, except for Clinton. BillyBoy was the worst of all time. By far, bar none.

    • Steve the Cynic

      Lying about a sex scandal is worse than lying us into an unjust war? GWB was such a skillful liar, he even deceived himself.

      • jockamo

        To suggest that lying about Monica was BillyBoys only dishonesty in office is the height of naivete.

        Indeed, all of his sex messes put together are only a small tiny dress stain on his cornucopic mendacity.

        • Steve the Cynic

          Ken Starr spent $50M trying to dig up dirt on Clinton, and the worst he could come up with was lying about a sexual pecadillo.

          • jockamo

            As I have said…..naive………..or, attempting to deceive……….
            Ken Starr only had authority to investigate Clinton for his perjury in the sex cases. For which Clinton was fined $90,000.00 and lost his law license for 5 years. And would have been thrown out of office if the Senate was composed of honest persons.
            Ken Starr was not allowed to investigate the worst of Clintons horrors……like the 2 million dollar payment from Tyson Chicken to BillyBoy for his role in legislation that benefitted Tyson, which was laundered through Hillary. Or, the nearly 100 murders of innocent American Citizens conducted by him and his henchwoman Reno. And a whole host of other violations.
            As stated above, the sex stuff is the least of his disgustingness. Only the easily fooled are taken in by the dog and pony show. He remains the biggest crook we have every had as top employee. Nixon is small potatoes in comparison.

          • Steve the Cynic

            Not so. Ken Starr had free rein to investigate anything.