THE APOTHEOSIS OF TRICKY DICK
by Murray N. Rothbard
is another fiendish turn of the screw, the latest acceleration
of rampant statolatry in our culture. Every eighth-rate Supreme
Court Justice who retires now gets elevated to the pantheon: First
it was the nitwit "Thoroughgood" Marshall, keened over as a giant
among men; and now it is the little creep Blackmun, hailed as
a "spokesman for the oppressed," as if that is supposed
to be a proper function for a high level jurist. (How about "upholding
the Constitution," for starters?)
But Supreme Court judges, while close to divine
status, sit only at the right hand of the godhead Himself, El
Presidente. It is the president, any president, who now embodies
the Supreme Power, and must be invested with divine attributes
to match the scope of his powers. And so in death, every ex-president,
regardless of party, of his status or reputation in life, must
become clothed in the robes of magnificence, wisdom, and glory.
It keeps getting worse. For now the very man driven
out of office in disgrace, returns, first as Wise Elder Statesman,
and now, in death, cloaked in the robes of splendor. His nominal
political enemy, Slick Willie, whose wife once helped Bring the
Monster Milhous Down, now declares a "day of national homage"
to none other than Tricky Dick, and we are even to be deprived
of a day of postal delivery in Devious Dick's honor as
if these intrepid couriers needed any encouragement to deprive
us of our mail!
And so the State, both parts of our sacred Two-Party
System, bands together, swiftly and easily, to pay tribute to
one of Their Own, and the rest of us are sucked into Playing the
State's Game. And now it turns out that Willie has been receiving
Wise Counsel from the Tricky One ever since his accession to the
Throne. Would that Tricky had advised Clinton to concoct some
potion that would make Willie disappear, once and for all!
And so history is revised and twisted out of all
substance. All presidents, and especially ex-presidents, are noble
and good, and they all get trotted out, like vultures perched
on a wire, every time the current president wants to put across
another "bipartisan" scam on the American people, such as Nafta,
or Gatt. How long has it been since an ex-president roundly denounced
the current occupier of the office? Has anyone done so
since Hoover went after FDR?
In this entire scam, the Respectable Media, of course,
participate enthusiastically in the anointment. If a man is perceived
as an eighth-rater before taking office (such as Truman), then
he, inevitably is hailed for "growing in stature" in office, so
that he leaves, four or eight years later, close to the gods.
And if his term of office is brief or shameful, as in the case
of Jimmy Carter or the Tricky One, then the man Grows as ex-president.
So that Carter's disastrous term is overlarded by his dotty Good
Works ever since maybe we can send Jimmy to supervise closely,
the next "free elections" in, say, Rwanda? And Devious Dick's
shattered term is buried in the encomiums for his buttinski role
as Elder Foreign Policy Statesman. Even more irritating, if possible,
than Nixon's Foreign Policy status as a Kissinger-and-a-half,
was his obvious delight in posing as yet another of the host of
"Value-Free" Political Pundits that already infest the airwaves.
Given a few more years, he might even have surpassed the likes
of Wolf Blitzer and Bill Schneider.
But regardless how it's done, the key point is to
make sure that by the time the ex-president shuffles off his mortal
coil, the Bad is swiftly interred with his bones, and the Good,
real or fabricated, lives after him, in a blare of trumpets.
It is fitting, I suppose, that Tricky Dick should
go down in life and in History as a "conservative." If any one
man may be picked to sum up the victory of statist substance over
the tinpot rhetoric, of the triumph of Big Government Conservatism,
Richard Nixon is that man.
Let us consider the Nixonian record in
office, that is, and not as the prosecutor of Alger Hiss or
the Invisible Man on post-Nixon National Security Councils. What
essentially did the Tricky One do? He succeeded in propelling
the United States more vigorously toward socialism than even his
power-mad, brutish, and blackguardly predecessor, Lyndon Baines
Johnson. The Tricky One, despite or perhaps because of his "conservative"
billing, managed to:
- give an enormous and significant push to the march of socialized
medicine it is a straight and short line from the Tricky
One to Hillary;
- accelerate the welfare state;
- give an enormous boost to "civil rights" and affirmative
- propose a monstrous plan to replace welfare by a guaranteed
annual income for all a far worse scheme even than
Slick Willie's proposal to "end welfare as we know it";
- go totally off the gold standard, and thereby usher in a
quarter-century of accelerated inflation and volatile economies;
- impose a disastrous system of price and wage freezes and
controls, a scheme which he cynically imposed even though
he realized before, during, and afterwards that it could never
- fastening the horrors of OSHA regulation on industry in
the name of "safety";
- giving a crucial impetus to environmentalism by pushing
through the horrible Environmental Protection Agency.
We are told that Nixon was willing to turn over
the entire vital realm of domestic policy to the liberals so that
he could concentrate on his real love: foreign policy. But what
precisely did he accomplish in foreign affairs?
Allegedly trying to end the Vietnam War, he lengthened
and greatly widened it, stepping up the mass murder.
But what about détente? Well, yes, he eased
tensions a bit in the Cold War, but all that really amounted to
is that he didn't go to war against the Russians. But, after all,
none of the other presidents, for all their bluster, did either.
But what of Nixon's allegedly supreme triumph, his
Opening to China? But, after all, so what? It was nice to ease
tensions with China, but, after the Chinese kicked the American
rear in the Korean War, there was never a chance that the U.S.
would go to war against the ChiComs either.
I submit that Richard Nixon's record was as empty
and as bleak in foreign affairs as in domestic. Any achievements
at all in the midst of the Nixonian miasma? Well, he did
get rid of the draft. And he was personally a bright man, if that's
And what of Watergate? What are its lessons? The
most fascinating lesson is that the very Liberals who Brought
Him Down with such glee are the ones busily rehabilitating his
image from the grave, and burying Watergate in all the hoopla
about Nixon's alleged wisdom.
But did Nixon deserve to be brought down? And wasn't
Nixon's third-rate burglary no worse than the dark deeds committed
by his predecessors? Yes, and yes. What Nixon did was no worse
than FDR before him, or of course, Slick Willie did after him.
The point is that they all, all, deserved to be Brought Down,
and the sooner the better. The great thing about Watergate is
that it made the unthinkable thinkable at long last, that it established
the precedent for impeaching the Monster in the White House. And
while they can bury Watergate, and they can rehabilitate the Tricky
One's image all they want, they can install him in the Valhalla
reserved for all ex-presidents, but they can't take away from
us the lovely knowledge that he and Agnew just before him
was Brought Down, and if it can happen to him, it can happen
to any one, even to whoever the current occupant may be. To throw
one of the Liberal's favorite words in their face, what I loved
most about Watergate was the process" the process of impeachment,
of Bringing the Man Down.
a heady year or two, I actually believed that Watergate had permanently
discredited the Office of the president, and not just the man
Nixon, that never again would the American public trust any politician,
especially any occupant of the Oval Office. I was of course wrong
especially after Ronald Reagan restored The Trust that
the Establishment yearns to inspire in every American sucker.
But still he was tossed out; they can never take that knowledge
away from us. And for that, in an ironic sense, we are forever
indebted to the Man Milhous.