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Nixon 40 Years on from his resignation

It was 40 years ago tonight (9:01pm) that President Richard Nixon resigned as President. As a Kennedy man and a huge fan of Dr Hunter Thompson it is not surprising that my attitude towards Nixon was less than positive.

Richard Nixon was an evil man - evil in a way that only those who believe in the physical reality of the Devil can understand it. He was utterly without ethics or morals or any bedrock sense of decency." Hunter Thompson 

The reality is always more complicated than we would like. I am just finishING Pat Buchanan's recent book,  "The Greatest Comeback" which gives an insight into the man and his politics which I found very interesting. I'm a US politics geek and so have books across the political spectrum and although I don't hold to all that Pat has written, he makes some very comments and insights, as he was at that point a speech writer for the man. 

The problems of the Nixon Presidency have been burned into the minds of generations and his actions contributed to the disillusionment by many in politics.While JFK inspired a generation into public service with his speech 'Ask not what your country can do for you but what you can do for your country". It did show that you can hold even a President accountable for their actions. Some of the attempts to impeach Presidents since then have belittled the use of impeachment.

This blog I would like to look at some of the positive aspects of his Presidency which we forget and which I doubt many  Republications would today sign up to.

It was under the Nixon Presidency that EPA was created and that the US offered to be the host country for the new United Nations Environment Programme (it went to Kenya). They also supported the setting up of UNFPA in response to the Rockefeller Commissions Report on Population. 

Perhaps the biggest contribution that he tried to make was the introduction of comprehensive health care. Yes the thing that present day Republicans are against. From his speech in 1974:

"Without adequate health care, no one can make full use of his or her talents and opportunities. It is thus just as important that economic, racial and social barriers not stand in the way of good health care as it is to eliminate those barriers to a good education and a good job. 

Three years ago, I proposed a major health insurance program to the Congress, seeking to guarantee adequate financing of health care on a nationwide basis. That proposal generated widespread discussion and useful debate. But no legislation reached my desk."

Everyone should read the whole speech and think what could have been in Congress had acted in 1974 and how much suffering could have been prevented and how Health Care would have moved like it has in the rest of the developed countries to a 'non party political issue'.

On civil rights he had been on the right side of all legislation that was introduced. On gun control he wanted them banned:
Let me ask you," Nixon said to Attorney General John Mitchell in June 1971, "there is only one thing you are checking on, that's the manufacture of those $20 guns? We should probably stop that." Saturday night specials sold for $10 to $30 at the time. Mitchell responded that banning those guns would be "pretty difficult, actually," because of the gun lobby.
"No hunters are going to use $20 guns," Nixon countered.
"No, but the gun lobby's against any incursion into the elimination of firearms," said Mitchell.

He tried to stop the Saturday night specials. From Politico:

He proposed ridding the market of Saturday night specials, contemplated banning handguns altogether and refused to pander to gun owners by feigning interest in their weapons.
Several previously unreported Oval Office recordings and White House memos from the Nixon years show a conservative president who at times appeared willing to take on the National Rifle Association, a powerful gun lobby then as now, even as his aides worried about the political ramifications...

"I don't know why any individual should have a right to have a revolver in his house," Nixon said in a taped conversation with aides. "The kids usually kill themselves with it and so forth." He asked why "can't we go after handguns, period?"" Read more at Politico 

On Foreign Affairs he ended the draft, got troops out of Vietnam, recognized China and negotiated with the Soviet one of the the greatest arms control treaty  SALT I.

Interesting to review the above in light of today. If Watergate had not happened how would Richard Nixon be seen today? A great Democrat or Republication President? For many int he present Republican party he is seen as a RINO


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