Obama is no Nixon

President Nixon meets with China's Communist P...

President Nixon meets with China’s Communist Party Leader, Mao Tse-Tung, 02/29/1972 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I ran across this defense of Richard Nixon by William Kristol at the Weekly Standard, via The Virginian, via Instapundit.

The thoughtful Carl Cannon has written a piece, “Richard Milhous Obama,” concluding that our current president has more in common with our 37th than President Obama’s partisans would like to acknowledge. The estimable Victor Davis Hanson has weighed in, defending against liberal dissents the proposition that “Nixon Is a Fair Comparison” with Obama.

I protest. Will no one stand up for Richard Nixon? Richard Nixon was a combat veteran, a staunch and brave anti-Communist, a man who took on the liberal establishment and at times his own party’s as well, a leader who often thought for himself and had the courage of his convictions, a president who assembled a first-rate Cabinet and one who—while flawed both in character and in policy judgment—usually tried to confront the real problems and deal with challenges of his times. Richard Nixon led neither the country nor his own administration from behind.

I worked for Richard Nixon (well, I worked for two months in the Nixon White House in 1970 as a summer intern). I voted for Richard Nixon (in 1972, my first vote, against George McGovern—and one about which I have no regrets). I knew Richard Nixon (very slightly—I met him on a few occasions in groups in the late 1970s and the 1980s, and then a couple of times when I worked for Vice President Quayle). And so I feel obliged to rise to Richard Nixon’s defense, and to say, with all due respect, to our current president: Barack Obama, you’re no Richard Nixon.

If Richard Nixon had had the kind of fawning media coverage that Barack Obama has had, he would be considered one of our greatest presidents. If Barack Obama had had the hostile media coverage that Nixon had, I doubt he would ever have been elected president. Nixon had his faults and even though he was considered a conservative, he was far too big-government oriented for my liking, still I think he deserves a little better legacy than he has gotten. I have to disagree with the Virginian’s comment, though.

Keep in mind that on the international front, Richard Nixon single-handedly pried the Communist alliance between the USSR and China apart. The Nixon IRS never actually went after Nixon’s enemies. And Nixon didn’t plot the Watergate break-in. Barack Obama is not fit to tie Richard Nixon’s shoes.

The first sentence is not quite true. In fact the alliance between the Soviet Union and the People’s Republic of China was strained from the beginning. Stalin didn’t really want Mao to take over China. He preferred a weak China divided between the Nationalists and the Communists to a united China that might be a threat on the Russian border. After Stalin died, the Soviet Communist Party under Khrushchev became somewhat more pragmatic while the Chinese Communists under Mao still retained their revolutionary ardor. The Russians became alarmed at Mao’s casual attitude on nuclear war with the rest and were dismayed by the insanity of the Great Leap Forward. Mao thought that Khrushchev and the Russians were appeasing the  West. The alliance ended by 1959 and in 1969  there was a brief border war between the two Communist powers.

Nixon deserves credit for opening relations with China but he hardly did it single-handedly and Mao was just as interested in opening relations with the United States for his own reasons.

 

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