Ed Driscoll

The Left Agrees: Nixon's the One—Now More Than Ever!


“Bill Press and Lefty Scribe Agree — Obama Foreign Policy is ‘Most Nuanced’ … Since Nixon,” Jack Coleman writes at Newsbusters:

Never thought I’d see the day that a prominent member of the liberal media establishment praised the Prince of Darkness himself, aka Richard Milhous Nixon, and one of his liberal media cohorts agreed.

Moreover, Nixon was described favorably while being compared to the erstwhile would-be Messiah occupying the Oval Office, Barack Hussein Obama. Strange days indeed, to borrow from John Lennon, the high priest of hippies.

The seldom-heard praise from way left of center came on Bill Press’s radio show Wednesday while he was talking with John Nichols, Washington correspondent for The Nation magazine, author, and frequent guest on MSNBC (audio of the exchange at Newsbusters — Ed):

NICHOLS: This is the subtlety of Obama and we should, we should, I know that we live in America, we don’t cover foreign policy seriously, but if we were to take a moment to do so, we would say that the subtlety of Barack Obama is that while we talk about him almost exclusively on domestic issues and the economy and other things that are legit for that, people lose the fact that he is one of the most nuanced players on the international stage that we have had in a very long time. And I know this is a terrible comparison and people won’t like it, but perhaps since Nixon. He is a guy who actually understands the geopolitics and the people he’s dealing with and who he needs to be friends with to achieve complex goals …

PRESS: Oh yeah …

NICHOLS: … to keep America out of war, things like that.

PRESS: Yeah, I mean, it did take Nixon to open up China.

NICHOLS (backpedaling after his heresy sinks in): Yeah, I’m not, we won’t have a Nixon party here but …


I’m guessing at least two people with the last name Clinton would disagree, along with another whose surname is Kerry.

What surprised me about this exchange was, last I checked, Nixon remains firmly ensconced in the pantheon of Most Villainous American Conservatives, situated equidistant between the man who’ll probably always hold the top spot, Senator Joseph McCarthy, and relative newcomer George W. Bush.

Actually, as we’ve spotted several times over the last several years, even as Obama’s approval ratings plummeted to Nixon-like levels, Nixon’s reputation has been growing amongst a number of leftwing journalists, as we mentioned this past December:

Back in September of 2009, Nick Gillespie spotted Paul Krugman longing for the 37th president, when Krugman titled an article with the three scariest words to emerge from a Timesman: “Missing Richard Nixon.” After first outlining how badly divided the country was post-1968, when the left had begun their long descent into perma-malaise, Gillespie wrote in response:

The proximate cause of Krugman’s Nixostalgia is the current health-care reform debate, during which various voters and officials have, my god, expressed discontent with both the status quo and proposed reforms (as vague as they are, and will almost certainly continue to be even after Barack Obama’s speech next week). To Krugman that represents the ascent of corporate influence and “the right-wing fringe” (which despite being powerless is somehow holding a Democratic Congress in thrall). It has deranged him at least as much as the electoral success of George W. Bush, which is to say Kruman now needs a rubber room the size of airplane hangar just to keep from bouncing off the walls. Yes, there is something really rotten to the core with a country that actively debates a massively important issue that may well define quality of life and economic vitality for, I don’t know, the next generation or two. What are we thinking, people? Shouldn’t we rush through whatever plan Krugman, or Steny Hoyer, or Ted Kennedy, or Bob Dole, or some other grand vizier, says is all good? For god’s sake, alternative proposals for actual reform, such as Whole Foods CEO John Mackey’s real-world plan, are just getting in the way.

Of course, Krugman wasn’t the only employee of the Gray Lady who had newfound approval of Nixon’s Johnson-esque love of Leviathan government — in the early 1990s, veteran Timesman Thomas Wicker wrote One of Us : Richard Nixon and the American Dream. And the Chicago Sun-Times’ Roger Ebert longed for Nixon in late 2008, in his review of the Ron Howard film version of Frost/Nixon, as part of his long descent in the last decade of his life from family-friendly film critic to raving moonbat leftie.

And now add Press and Nichols to the list. All of which oddly makes sense — Nixon governed domestically as an extension of Lyndon Johnson’s big government Great Society, and as Victor Lasky wrote in It Didn’t Start With Watergate, Nixon’s crimes were similarly an extension of the policies of “liberal” presidents from Woodrow Wilson to JFK and LBJ. However, in contrast to his predecessors, Nixon simply found himself at the time with a Congress who despised him and were prepared to destroy him (and Vietnam along the way) for the very policies they would have looked the other way towards had the man in the White House had a (D) after his name.

And how foolish they must now look in the eyes of Mssrs. Krugman, Press, Nichols, and the late Ebert and Wicker.

(Headline inspired by Nick Gillespie’s 2009 post.)