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Nixon was Democrat's kind of Republican.

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Nixon was Democrat's kind of Republican The historian Alonzo Hamby once opened 3 an essay about Richard Nixon by asking, "Why did we hate him so?" Hamby never found a satisfactory answer, and neither have I. Hamby was writing not only as a historian but also as a liberal Democrat, and his point was that if you placed Watergate to one side -- the vilification of Nixon pre-dated the scandals, after all -- Nixon's presidency should appear more congenial to liberals than conservatives. Nixon abolished the draft, proposed a guaranteed income, instituted the first federal affirmative-action quotas, supported school busing for racial balance, founded the Environmental Protection Agency and vastly expanded the federal government's responsibility for workplace and consumer-product safety. His proposal for national health insurance was more radical than Hillary Clinton's. His wage and price controls were the most ambitious manipulation of the marketplace by government in peacetime history. ...read more.


AU 3,700 hours -- minus classified and purely private conversations -- are scheduled for release by 2005. For now, 1,284 hours are available. I avoided the greatest hits; most are downloadable from various Web sites anyway. I wanted to wade in at random, to glimpse a Nixon as yet unexposed to history. From a gray archive box I plucked a recently released Oval Office tape recorded April 9, 1971. Nixon's morning that day was devoted to a dull briefing from his Treasury secretary, just back from a Far East trip. Expletives still deleted In the cavernous Oval Office you can hear only grunts from Nixon as the secretary drones on -- until the subject of the State Department comes up (I will paraphrase some of the president's language.) "I'll tell you, most of 'em over at State" -- Nixon's voice rises --"they went to these Eastern (gosh darn) ...read more.


Soon he softens. "(Heck), I wash my hands of the (darn) thing. Just so long as I don't have to look at it out this window." This is a tape, I stress, plucked at random, but it contains eruptions of the purest Nixon. About elementary school arts programs: "Good for 'em. Otherwise they'll be sitting in front of their (gosh darn) televisions, chewing their (gosh darn) bubble gum." About movies: "People are sick of the weird stuff they're getting from Hollywood and this" -- the poison again -- "this national intelligentsia." I was chuckling when it hit me -- the answer to Hamby's question: They hated him because he hated them. The ill feeling between Nixon and his enemies transcended the puny questions of domestic or foreign policy; it went to the very heart of cultural disposition. Culture and class override politics and policy, always. As to who hated whom first -- that's a chicken-and-egg question we will leave unaddressed for the moment, as we wish the old man's ghost a happy birthday, despite everything. ...read more.

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