View Poll Results: Where should Nixon really rank?

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    7 11.11%
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    15 23.81%
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Thread: Richard Nixon Good or Bad President?

  1. #1
    Patron Freeloader's Avatar
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    Richard Nixon Good or Bad President?

    Working with 5th grade students, the topic of Presidents has been a hot topic with the class due to the recent election of Barack Obama. They've learned about all the Revolutionary War era presidents (especially Adams, very underrated) as well as the next couple, and are closing in on the Civil War era.

    In addition, a few random figures throughout time have received a lot of attention. One of which is Teddy, whom I champion as the greatest President ever (in my opinion) as well as Bush and clinton, being the two most recent.

    But the last one is Richard Nixon. A couple students in the class argue "You know, he wasn't all that bad of a president, he did some good things" which is entirely correct. In fact, he did a lot of extremely positive things that would of held him in higher approval today than Reagan had it not been for Watergate imo. Watergate, as it was...was it even THAT bad? I was not alive back then, so perhaps I do not fully grasp the significance of the issue, or have missed something. I understand that Nixon oversaw a breakin and spying covert on the democrats. But was this actually worse than say, Andrew Jackson, a president whom people like, sending tens of thousands of Indians packing west to Oklahoma, many of which died on route? Or his massive slavery ring/pro slavery mindset? Really?

    Either history has Nixon completely mislabeled and Watergate is blown way out of proportion, or I am missing something. Help me out here
    Last edited by Freeloader; 26 Jan 09, at 03:16. Reason: sentence structure

  2. #2
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    Terrible, Water Gate.

  3. #3
    Patron Freeloader's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chaobam Armour View Post
    Terrible, Water Gate.
    Thanks for the well depth analysis.

  4. #4
    New Member ghostkru's Avatar
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    i vote he was good.

    i am not american though so i don't understand the big deal about watergate. he fostered better US-China relations, got the US out of the vietnam war, promoted the economy, established a lot of useful such as the occupational safety and health administration.

    watergate really marred his record but it's not as bad as the corruption that occurs in other countries (like my own).

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    freeloader,

    But the last one is Richard Nixon. A couple students in the class argue "You know, he wasn't all that bad of a president, he did some good things" which is entirely correct. In fact, he did a lot of extremely positive things that would of held him in higher approval today than Reagan had it not been for Watergate imo. Watergate, as it was...was it even THAT bad? I was not alive back then, so perhaps I do not fully grasp the significance of the issue, or have missed something. I understand that Nixon oversaw a breakin and spying covert on the democrats. But was this actually worse than say, Andrew Jackson, a president whom people like, sending tens of thousands of Indians packing west to Oklahoma, many of which died on route? Or his massive slavery ring/pro slavery mindset? Really?
    watergate represented his hijacking of the executive branch into something of gangsterism. he used his enormous power to actively subvert democracy. other presidents have used their power, sometimes badly, to advance the cause of the US (as they understood it). that would explain jackson, or even lincoln (suspending habeas corpus). heck, some presidents have been known to be implemented in pretty shady deals- andrew johnson, or harding. but no one was so hellbent as nixon on using his office to destroy his enemies, to utilize government power to spy, humiliate, and ruin fellow americans.

    he deserved serious jail time. hell, he deserved it just on the basis of ruining the presidency of an eminently good man whom pardoned him.
    There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there has always been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that "My ignorance is just as good as your knowledge."- Isaac Asimov

  6. #6
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    why no option for middle tier?

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    I'd say good. Foreign policy wise he finally recognized the split between China and the Soviet Union, and also began a sensible policy of escalation and withdrawal from Vietnam that was our best hope for peace with honor. And Watergate, while it might have gone a little further than normal, was only midly worse than what the Democrats had done during the Johnson administration. Use of presidential power in that style (if not that degree) was surprisingly common back then. I guess the US was still getting used to having a strong government with a powerful executive branch.

  8. #8
    Senior Contributor Bigfella's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by astralis View Post
    freeloader,



    watergate represented his hijacking of the executive branch into something of gangsterism. he used his enormous power to actively subvert democracy. other presidents have used their power, sometimes badly, to advance the cause of the US (as they understood it). that would explain jackson, or even lincoln (suspending habeas corpus). heck, some presidents have been known to be implemented in pretty shady deals- andrew johnson, or harding. but no one was so hellbent as nixon on using his office to destroy his enemies, to utilize government power to spy, humiliate, and ruin fellow americans.

    he deserved serious jail time. hell, he deserved it just on the basis of ruining the presidency of an eminently good man whom pardoned him.

    Freeloader,

    Astralis has stolen a good bit of my thunder, but a few more points. Nixon was most responsible for the GOP's 'Southern Strategy' - an overt attempt to attract former southern 'Dixiecrats' who had abandoned the Dems after they discovered racial equality. At best cynical politics of the worst kind, at worst a long term cancer in the party (I'll let GOPers fight over that one).

    Nixon's great achievements were in foreign policy, but even here the record is mixed.

    Recognising China was a fine achievement, as was the containment of the Yom Kippur War (to be fair, Kissinger did the hard yards). I think there were also some treaties with the USSR limiting nuclear weapons (I'm winging this a bit, sorry).

    Indochina is a mixed bag. Nixon did end America's involvement there, but at a heavy price for others. His decision to intervene politically & militarily in Cambodia sparked a terrible civil war & was a key moment in the eventual slide of Cambodia into Khmer Rouge rule. The Paris Accords may have delivered America an exit strategy from Vietnam, but they basically sold out the RVN. This is why he & kissiger basically threatened to cut off aid to Thieu if the didn't sign - Thieu knew a stitch up when he saw one. While Johnson guaranteed that America would not 'win' in Vietnam, Nixon made the war so toxic that there was simply no will to even continue supporting the Sth when he was done.

    Then there is Bangladesh. I don't have full details on the issue, but it is my understanding that Nixon & Kissinger remained firm backers of Yayha Khan while he set about killing 1-3 million people in Bangladesh. I am further led to believe that when India initially made moves to intervene the US moved naval units to the Indian ocean as a form of threat. The Indian response was delayed by some months. (if this is not correct please jump in somebody).

    Chile is another in the 'minus' column. Nixon & Kissinger actively supported efforts to politicize the Chilean military by supporting generals who planned to kill the non-political head of the Army. They then supported a coup that overthrew the democratically elected government. Nasty by any reckoning.

    I could probably dig up a few more in the 'plus' and 'minus' column, but you get the idea.

    To summarize: Domestic record - not good if you like the rule of law. International record - at best a mixed bag.


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    I can only talk for his diplomacy but for the plus side I would say Egypt's peace with Isreal, China's alliance against soviet imperialism, US disengagement in Vietnam (with what BF said),the rescue of the dollar as the world's currency..

    Minus side: Bangladesh? (who supported Bangladeshi independence in 1971 bar Indira Ghandi for obvious strategic reasons?), Chile is what every other US president would have done and did during the cold war.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by astralis View Post
    he deserved serious jail time. hell, he deserved it just on the basis of ruining the presidency of an eminently good man whom pardoned him.
    He deserved it though I still think Ford's pardon was the right thing to do. I couldn't imagine the country being dragged through a prolonged trial of an ex-President (I wasn't around then either but just reading about it I think it would have been terrible). Plus where do you keep an ex-president in jail? Send him to St. Helena? )

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Freeloader View Post
    Thanks for the well depth analysis.
    OK lets try again. President Nixon = 37th President, First ever President to resign office. He escalated the War in Vietnam, initially, by overseeing secret bombing campaigns' (Operation Menu, Line Backer). He was pardoned by Gerald Ford. He himself pardoned a Mobster (Angelo De Carlo)! He was disbarred from the State of New York, he eventually resigned all his other Law licences. Described as having a narcissistic and Paranoid personality.
    "How can one evaluate such an idosyncratic President, so brilliant and so morally lacking?" (James MacGregor Burns).

  12. #12
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    I cannot respect the man for his abuses and his Godfather mentality towards the Presidency but the world owes him a load of thanks for helping to avert a nuclear war between the USSR and the PRC.

  13. #13
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    I would say he was both a good and bad president. He did some great things in office, but he also let his demons destroy him.
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    Nixon allowed government employees to form labor unions.

    BAD MOVE.

    Labor unions are by definition a collective bargaining body on behalf of the labor against powerful, sometimes oppressive, corporate interest.

    What does government employees union say about the government? It's oppressive? It's trying to cheat its workers? If so, we should get rid of this government. If not, then the union is not needed.

    Look at California's budget problems and you can see government employee's unions at work.
    "Only Nixon can go to China." -- Old Vulcan proverb.

  15. #15
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    The Nixon legacy is still hamstringing Presidents. Not only did He give us Watergate and gave us the Special Prosecutors office as a result and all those painful years under Reagan, Bush and Clinton of endless investigations that amounted to nothing and impeded Presidential power.

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