Nixon's Legacy

Discussion in 'General Military Arms & History Forum' started by Terry_P, Apr 3, 2008.

  1. Terry_P

    Terry_P New Member

    Mar 23, 2008
    If he had not been so paranoid and attempted to cover up the Watergate break in would history treat him differently?

    His accomplishments as typically recognized:

    Overtures to China that started the process of dipliomatic relations (where would Wal Mart be without that one)

    Ended the Vietnam war with his "peace with honor" program of negotiations (Although I feel differently about this one it is typically listed as an accomplishment)

    Nuclear Arms Reduction treaty with the Soviets. I believe this was the first such agreement.

    Got the economy going with moderate sucess dealing with inflation and high gas prices.

    Environment program for clean air and clean water. The Clean Air Act was a Nixon administration program.

    Revenue sharing with the states that pushed federal monies to the state and local level.

    He appointed conservative Supreme Court justices William Rehnquist and Harry Blackmun to the Supreme Court.

    That history would have been kinder to him without Watergate is obvious but I feel he would be thought of as a good President, instead of as a law and order president that broke the law.
  2. Terry, I strongly suspect that with the perspective of history, folks will be kinder to Nixon than his contemporaries have been. Yes, Nixon screwed the pooch big time with the Watergate fiasco, though to this day I don't believe he knew about the break-in beforehand, not do I think he would have condoned it had he known it was planned. Nixon was too shrewd a politician to take that kind of an idiotic risk for so little potential gain. Nixon had faults, that is certain, not the least of which was something of a messiah complex and a bad case of paranoia. On the other hand, he was a tough old codger, and it was Nixon who finally had the cajones to force N. Vietnam to the bargaining table by bombing the ever loving crap out of them with the Christmas bombings--something that should have been done in 1965!

  3. Terry_P

    Terry_P New Member

    Mar 23, 2008
    I remember the riots in 1967/8 as I had riot training in the military and it seemed that once Nixon was on board the burn baby burn stuff stopped. There were protests about the war, the draft (which he ended as well I believe) but the absolute chaos ended.
  4. Oneida Steve

    Oneida Steve Well-Known Member

    Sep 28, 2006
    Upstate NY
    Good list. I agree that Nixon for all his faults deserves a better place in history.

    You left out "ended the military draft" as one of the Nixon-era accomplishments.

    +1 to Nixon's work with the environment. I now catch bass and catfish from rivers that were polluted sewers in the 1960's. Kudos to the Environmental Protection Act of 1970.
  5. After President Nixon passed away I remember seeing a political cartoon that summed it up very well. He was ariving at the Pearly Gates, and St. Peter was waiting with two large stacks of paper. One was labled "Good Dick" and the other "Bad Dick." St. Peter was looking at Nixon a bit befuddled and said, "This is going to take a while..."

    I always took this as an anology for history.
  6. A most appropriate commentary indeed, USMC. Nixon was no saint, but at least he knew enough to keep his "masculine appendage" in his pants where it belonged while president of the United States, unlike a certain other recent president. :D;)
  7. lefty48

    lefty48 New Member

    Jan 8, 2008
    I think his legacy is indeed mostly Watergate and the stuff that flowed from it. It's somehow related to the subsequent rightward drift of the Republican party and the polarization of politics.

    Correct me if I'm wrong, but wasn't Nixon what you guys would call a liberal?

    He propose a national health care plan very much like the one Hillary got crucified for twenty years later. Other stuff he did: imposed wage and price controls, expanded Social Security, floated the dollar, created the EPA, OSHA, and instituted federal affirmative action hiring practices.

    If "liberal" is too tough to swallow, then call him the last of the big-time "progressive" Republicans.

    I think it's essentially coincidence, but the long period of "stagflation" that began during his administration seemed to have helped end "the good old days" of unquestioned American economic dominance and rapidly rising living standards.

    "Getting the economy going" was not among Nixon's accomplishments, unless you mean going south.

    (It was Carter who chose to end hyper-inflation by jacking up interest rates to a level that he knew would cause a very deep recession. Not a classically "liberal" approach at all. In fact Nixon was possibly to the left of Carter in many respects.)
    Last edited: Apr 5, 2008
  8. Terry_P

    Terry_P New Member

    Mar 23, 2008
    I guess I don't understand your point. The post was about his legacy not if he was liberal or conservative. I was only talking about how he would be viewed by history if he hadn't covered it up.

    I don't think Carter had much to do with interest rates so maybe you can explain how he jacked up the rates.

    The best quote I ever heard about Hillary's health care plan actually came from Nixon who said: "It is a government attempt to control 1/8th of the economy". I don't recall any such health care plan that you are referring to from Nixon. Medicare was a Johnson program. Can you link me to some info on it?
  9. lefty48

    lefty48 New Member

    Jan 8, 2008
    My somewhat hazy point is that Nixon's legacy is mostly about Watergate in my opinion.

    But I'm trying to also point out that many of his actual policies continue to have a significant impact on society, and are certainly also part of his legacy. In general, these policies were quite "progressive" -- or what today would certainly be called "liberal."

    As there is no controversy regarding very simple facts,
    your two specific questions are easily answered:

    1.) On February 6, 1974, Nixon introduced the Comprehensive Health Insurance Act. The law would have mandated employers to purchase health insurance for their employees, and in addition provided a federal health plan like Medicaid that any American could join by paying on a sliding scale based on income. Nixon resigned in August 1974 for reasons that were unrelated to this proposal.

    2.) Carter named Paul Volcker chairman of the Federal Reserve in August 1979.

    With Carter's blessing and full understanding, Volcker had, by December 1980, raised the prime rate to 21.5%, the highest rate in U.S. history. Quite predictably, this resulted in a sharp recession which included the highest unemployment levels since the Great Depression.

    Inflation, which peaked at 13.5% in 1981, was successfully lowered to 3.2% by 1983.

    (Carter left office in 1981 and got tagged for the recession but received no credit for the subsequent stock market boom. Volcker was reappointed in 1983 by President Ronald Reagan. Greenspan, a Volcker clone, was named Fed chairman by Reagan in 1987 and reappointed by GHWB and Clinton and GWB, and is now blamed, in some quarters, for both the Internet and housing bubbles.
    Wikipedia offers solid sources for this rather simple stuff. But I also remember the period quite clearly ...
    Last edited: Apr 6, 2008
  10. green4

    green4 New Member

    Apr 6, 2008
    I wouldn't really call ending the draft an "accomplishment" for Nixon.

    It was kinda like LBJ signing the civil rights act, not so much accomplishment as it was something that had to happen to prevent major social disruption.