Since mentioning Richard Nixon last time (in whose administration Pat Buchanan worked), I’ve been wanting to get a few things off my chest. I came of age during the Watergate years, and I think the picture that young people are painted of that most unfortunate time—by their teachers, their textbooks, and popular culture—is an utter travesty.
I distinctly recall reading (though I read it only once or twice; the media feeding frenzy quickly obscured such fine details in froth and body parts) that Nixon suspected McGovern of communicating with Fidel Castro. This may seem of no account to most of you now; but if you retained anything from your history books about the early Sixties, you remember that the Cuban Missile Crisis is rated as having had the potential to begin of World War III. Now, I put it to you: if Castro was such a desperate character that Kennedy’s facing him and Khrushchev down saved the human race from extermination, as is popularly let out, then why should he have been considered a pussy cat a mere decade later?
Or if Trump’s colluding with Putin to steal our last election is a scenario whose mere specter should put all other business on indefinite hold, then why would credible intelligence that a presidential candidate had covertly communicated with a despot eager to nuke our shores not warrant looking into?
Nixon, of course, was loathed by the Left since the days when he successfully prosecuted Alger Hiss, a Soviet spy deeply secreted in D.C.’s corridors of power. Younger Americans will have been told that no threat from the Soviets (except the Cuban Missile Crisis) ever existed, and that the hunt for spies on our shores and within our government, especially, was an indefensible witch hunt. The idiotic word “McCarthyism” has now entered the parlance of both sides of the aisle—as if poor Joe McCarthy, a war hero and a simple man of the people, had any “-ism” behind his clumsy attempt to weed out traitors from his nation’s most sensitive sources of power and influence. Nixon’s star rose as McCarthy’s plunged into flaming descent.
McCarthy, to be sure, stirred up a deal of hysteria. Why wouldn’t he have? The nation’s children were being drilled in their schools for an all-out nuclear attack during these years. Nixon, likewise, was no black belt in public relations. His homely mug, his sanctimonious style, his irrepressible persecution complex, his self-consciousness about his humble origins… a walking target, he was, for all the bullies on the playground. And then there was his vanity. If only he had burned all the damn tapes, as William F. Buckley urged him to do in print, the nation would have been spared a lot of misery. They were his private property—he could legally have done whatever he wanted to with them. As his “legacy”, however, they were sacrosanct… and he dragged himself and the country through disgrace that the record of his years in office might be preserved.
Sad. But not deserving of the caricature which has been visited upon the man. Meanwhile, Lyndon Johnson, having left a couple of bodies in his wake (I do not speak figuratively) during his climb to power in South Texas, is remembered as the compassionate architect of the Great Society.
Try, just try, to remember that you know less than nothing about the historical personages presented to you by textbooks and movies; for the lies with which we have been programmed are worse than utter, abject ignorance.