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Was Pres. Nixon A Good President - Excluding Watergate?

  1. GA Anderson profile image86
    GA Andersonposted 3 weeks ago

    Just watched a couple CNN Nixon shows; "Our Nixon," and a segment of "The Seventies" that dealt with Nixon and Watergate.

    Watergate and its taint on Nixon's presidency is a given. So skip that part. Was Pres. Nixon a good president for America's interests?
    *ps. his 1974 election margins were historical

    He opened an approach to China.
    He created the EPA.
    He was trying desperately to end our involvement in Viet Nam - with dignity.
    He ended the draft.
    He started the "War on Cancer" with a $100 Million effort.
    He lowered the voting age from 21 to 18.
    He broke the dominance of Soviet influence in the Middle East,
    He was a part of the SALT agreement, and he signed the ABM agreement.

    Pretty impressive. But given the Watergate issue, and the truth of the personality of the man, has history give him a fair shake regarding the good things he did do fort America?

    What do you think?

    ... and, are there any political discussions that interest you that don't involve Pres. Trump, or the media's bias, or non-bias?


    1. promisem profile image95
      promisemposted 3 weeks ago in reply to this

      If a good person goes to jail for a single bad act, society remembers the act and punishes that person for the rest of his or her life. (Convicted felons rarely get jobs other than something menial.) It doesn't remember or consider any of the good.

      If a good father slaps his child, that child will remember the slap forever. The emotional pain will wipe out many of the good deeds of the father.

      Humans seem to place a much higher emphasis on bad deeds than good ones. I've read it's part of the survival instinct.

      So to your question, yes, I believe he did many good deeds as president. His performance as President was good. His behavior as President was so bad that it wipes out any credit that he got for what he accomplished.

      We can say the same thing about Bill Clinton, although to a lesser extent. Good performance, bad behavior.

      1. GA Anderson profile image86
        GA Andersonposted 2 weeks ago in reply to this

        I think you nailed it promisem;

        " I believe he did many good deeds as president. His performance as President was good. His behavior as President was so bad that it wipes out any credit that he got for what he accomplished."

        But, that was an easy agreement - for me. My problem is that a recent, (and past),  readings show that the "Watergate" Nixon, was the true Nixon, not just the bad behavior of his presidency.

        Starting with his earliest political ambitions, it appears his primary personal goal was to do what was needed to reach the presidency. Of course I know he is not alone, nor unusual, in that goal,  but, does it matter if the achievement was important first for him, and secondly for the country? Does the the demonstrated character of the man, and what he was willing to do to get there, and, what he was willing to do to stay there - impact on his 'good for the country' achievements?


        1. promisem profile image95
          promisemposted 2 weeks ago in reply to this

          I believe we judge both the whole and the parts of a person. So when we judge his whole presidency, his character does impact on what he did for the good of the country.

          1. GA Anderson profile image86
            GA Andersonposted 2 weeks ago in reply to this

            Hi promisem,

            Does that boil down to a variation of the "...  end justify the means ..." question?  I think a "Nixon" answer to that question would always be "yes,"  and that I disagree with that is probably why I have such a low opinion of his character.

            I do agree that "the parts" affect the perception of "the whole,"  but also that the two cannot be viewed separately. So for me, Nixon's flaws, (and actions), make him a bad president - with some good accomplishments.


            1. promisem profile image95
              promisemposted 2 weeks ago in reply to this

              Hi, GA. I also don't believe the end justifies the means. I believe our judgment of the whole is based on our judgments of the parts. I agree he was a bad president -- because his flaws outweighed his accomplishments. So I think we are saying something similar.

              1. GA Anderson profile image86
                GA Andersonposted 2 weeks ago in reply to this

                You are right promisem, we are saying the same thing. I am just not quite comfortable with my perspective - yet.

                Some of the flawed actions we consider, and that I think influence our views; such as wiretapping opponents and 'enemies', seem to have  been accepted practices of the times. Both Johnson and Kennedy did that too. So...


  2. GA Anderson profile image86
    GA Andersonposted 3 weeks ago

    ahorseback, I invite you to this conversation as a break from the "left Media Bias" topics that have dominated the threads. Com'on bud, let's have a discussion.

    When did you first become politically active with your opinions?

    I'll go first. I enlisted in the Navy in 1970. My efforts to volunteer for Viet Nam in 1972, after my training schools,  were the beginnings of my thoughts of political interest.

    ps. Credence2, of course your participation is expected, so I hope you don't think an invitation is necessary. Yes, you too Wilderness


    1. Credence2 profile image87
      Credence2posted 3 weeks ago in reply to this

      Hello, GA, I can't think of anything else I would rather do on this fine Sunday morning than talk about Nixon.

      I will start with a profound observation, Bill Clinton, quite the politician in his own right, invited Richard Nixon to the White House early in his term for advice and consultation. Mr. Nixon had always had the demons and been wanting 'respect'. Well, when we get beyond Watergate, I think that he has earned it as a senior statesman. Bill Clinton certainly recognized it. 

      My political life pretty much began with 'Watergate". We all were outraged then, as at the University, I was supposed to be at my studies, but distracted all the same. He took a lot of heat for Vietnam, but I can't blame him exclusively, because Johnson, a Democrat, was snarled in it as well.  We were all Democrats, all the same in the model of Kennedy/Johnson and was suspicious of Nixon. But the fire and brimstone we were expecting with his election as opposed to Humphrey, at least according to my father, did not come.

      There was rarely a man that was as supremely prepared to assume the job of President. He has had a great deal of prior experience in politics at all levels.

      Compared with our ideological and extremes of our political polarity today, Nixon was well within the mainstream. If it wasn't for Watergate, I believe that most historians would have ranked him among the more effective of those holding the position of Chief Executive.

      1. GA Anderson profile image86
        GA Andersonposted 2 weeks ago in reply to this

        Well Cred, Since it took me two days to get back to this thread - I am sorry I disappointed you, and, what I too would have enjoyed as a Sunday morning chat.

        The thread topic was a question for a reason. I have not reconciled my opinion of the man with his presidential accomplishments - which were substantial in some areas.

        There seems to be a solid foundation of information that confirms that the character of Nixon that the Watergate investigations revealed, was the true character of Nixon from his earliest political efforts. It does seem that some of his paranoia, (his "enemies lists), and insecurities, ( a demonstrated need for affirmation), increased as his early political fortunes didn't yield him the respect he thought he deserved, (Eisenhower let it be known that he didn't support him as his V.P. for his re-election ticket, and only half-heartedly campaigned for him when he did get the presidential nomination against Kennedy),  But anyway...

        As mentioned to ahorseback, I do give him credit for his Viet Nam war efforts. And he, a Republican, (he called himself a liberal Republican), did create the EPA.

        So... I am still working through an opinion of his presidency, but not the man.

        You make a good point with your "Bill Clinton" thought. It seems the post-presidency President Nixon, may have been a better man. I think Bill Clinton was smart to make use of his talents and expertise.

        As a side note, my political interest also started with Nixon and the Watergate era. Except in my case, it was a navy enlistment and the prospects of going to Viet Nam that got my attention.


        1. Credence2 profile image87
          Credence2posted 2 weeks ago in reply to this

          You know, GA, in spite of it all,  I think that Nixon was basically a good president guilty of a revelation of his paranoid personality which came through in Watergate. When one realizes that by the Summer of 1972, any pollster would have told you that Nixon was well placed for reelection later that fall, why create this trouble for himself? He had such a suspicious nature he could not leave well enough alone. Like you said, he was shaken by Dwight Eisenhower and if it wasn't for the Cloth coat speech......

          So, I think that he was basically a good president, with a fatal flaw and event that cost him everything.


          1. GA Anderson profile image86
            GA Andersonposted 2 weeks ago in reply to this

            Hi Cred, even though I have said I think he was a bad president with some good accomplishments, if my current opinion were a jury - it would not yet be a unanimous verdict.

            My first thought is that you cannot separate the man from the office. But it feels like a vulnerable thought. What if the measure should be a realistic look at the balance?

            An example of my uncertainty would be his creation of the EPA. With the caveat that I think the concept of the original EPA was much different from the monster that it developed into.

            I think the original mandate of the EPA was a vital and extremely important action that affected our nation's future. So, if that achievement was on one side, and all his proven, (and those accepted as proven), negatives, (both of the office and its citizenry), were on the other - would the scales balance? Or is it possible that the EPA side might even carry more weight? And I don't ask that as a rhetorical question.

            Then, if I think there is even the possibility of a balance, what must I think if all his other positive accomplishments were piled on the scale with the EPA - just as all his negatives were piled on the opposite scale?

            How much weight should his deceitful and subversive actions carry? They were not little things. He was willing, and did, deceive the nation for his own purposes. He did exert control, and, use the power of Federal agencies; CIA, FBI, and the IRS,  against American citizens - just because he perceived them as enemies of him or his agenda. There is more, but you are as familiar with his deficits as I am - how much weight should his negative actions carry?

            I do want to give him credit for all the good he did, and the benefits his post-presidency actions offered, re. China, and your Nixon example, but I still have the question of separating the man from the office.


  3. ahorseback profile image45
    ahorsebackposted 3 weeks ago

    The negativity  of the Nixon Presidency were more a product of the socio-political times than the man himself ,  Like today's explosion of the political left movement , the youthful influence then opened a crevice in traditional politics  never to close again ,  and as dumb as we were then , we changed America , not for the better but merely  for  a progressive  alteration of organized politics itself.,     In the process however , WE picked up more than  a few bad habits . Henry Kissinger entered the stage however , a brilliant and forward thinking man that changed how the world viewed our leadership . Good or bad , he changed much of the worlds political stage  . Looking at the people alone that came out of the Nixon stage ,I believe  his leadership was a decent one .The bad images of him and his people are only from the staunch , hateful left--the  60's left --and their continuing media power , much duplicated today , That's why I moved center right  a long time ago ,    I felt very left at the time however the  remnants  of that movement today are some of the most selfish characteristics of our culture , our society and our politics today .

    The 1 to 10 scale for Nixon   7.5
    For the political -left movement that took him down . 2.0
    Now lets talk about a true leader ,Reagan ..........:-]

    1. GA Anderson profile image86
      GA Andersonposted 2 weeks ago in reply to this

      I see the thought behind your comment ahorseback, but I disagree. The 'man' that Nixon was, started well before his presidency. He earned his "Tricky Dick" nickname in his early California Congressional races - 20 years before his presidential era..

      More than a couple opinions, from both parties, practically credit him with being the father of modern smear and innuendo as a campaign tactic.

      I think the character of Nixon that was highlighted by Watergate, is the character of the man from the start of his political career.

      And because I believe my opinion of the man is relatively accurate, I am left to decide how to reconcile that with the good things he did do for America.

      He truly did want to get out of Viet Nam, it wasn't his war, but he was insistent that we end our participation with dignity. I don't think that is a bad thing. But, considered with my view of his demonstrated character flaws, how can I not wonder if his motivation for that desired ending might not have been as much personal as it was national?

      There are other examples - tied to his notable presidential accomplishments, but I think you can see my problem.


  4. Live to Learn profile image81
    Live to Learnposted 3 weeks ago

    I was an exchange student in South America when they started the impeachment proceedings against the man. It was incredibly difficult for me to be out of the country and watching it unfold on the news. I think history will look kindly on him; as your list of his accomplishments would attest to.

    1. GA Anderson profile image86
      GA Andersonposted 2 weeks ago in reply to this

      I think so too Live to Learn. I think it will be his post-presidency China efforts that will be noted as his 'best' accomplishment.