Just Like Nixon, but Much Worse

This is becoming a theme. First I claimed that Trump is no different from Nixon. I based this claim on the fact that obstruction of justice by trying to get the CIA to stop the FBI’s investigation into the Watergate break in was the key crime that prompted the House Judiciary Committee to vote out articles of impeachment, which in turn led Nixon to resign, and that is the crime that Trump seems to have committed in his attempts to derail the investigation into his campaign’s interactions with Russians last year during the election.

Then I read Republican Bruce Bartlett’s observation that Nixon was vastly more intelligent than is the Donald, so I put up an emendation of my first post.

In an interesting double fake twist kind of maneuver, the Donald then pushed me back towards my first assertion, but tempered by my second claim — that is, Trump apparently has committed exactly the same crime as Nixon, which only proves how profoundly stupid he really is. He literally asked chiefs of intelligence agencies to speak publicly in disparagement of James Comey’s claim that the FBI, which he was still running at the time, was then looking at possible coordination between Russians and the Trump campaign.

How stupid does one have to be to have lived through Watergate as an adult, then commit essentially the exact same crime?

It was entirely just and appropriate that Nixon resigned after evidence came to light of his deliberate misuse of his power as President to try to cover up unlawful conduct by his campaign. In the context of the time, however, Watergate had a clear, inescapable logic to it. The Cold War was crazy from start to finish, and Nixon was an avid participant in a fit of political paranoia that allowed men like Nixon, Joseph McCarthy, and J. Edgar Hoover to have far more impact on U.S. politics than any of them should have had. Although most observers point to the fall of the Berlin Wall as the event that signals the end of the Cold War, it hit an apogee of sort with Nixon’s resignation as the logical culmination of its capacity to contort U.S. politics and policy.

Nixon went to ridiculous, illegal extremes to ensure his victory in 1972, even though he would almost have certainly won anyway, because of his absurd paranoia, which was the characteristic attitude of the Cold War from start to finish. The Soviets were never that great a threat. Certainly it made zero sense for the U.S. to invade Vietnam to forestall the communist takeover that ultimately occurred anyway, to no discernible effect in the U.S. But Nixon knew foreign policy, which is what he really wanted to focus on as President. No matter how ridiculous the Cold War looks in retrospect, at the time, it provided a totalizing context for U.S. politics that Nixon was imbued with.

Trump is just off the chain. The Cold War is over, but the U.S. and the Russians are still at odds over policy in various ways, and regardless, there is no justification at all for colluding with a foreign power to win election as President. That is obviously illegal. Everything Trump did as a candidate, and that he has done as President, only makes sense, to the extent it makes any sense at all, as the effluvia of his rancid mental illness. Again, it now seems nonsensical, but at the time, a lot of people genuinely believed they served the best interests of the U.S. by pursuing the Cold War vigorously. No thinking person can articulate any way in which the U.S. as a nation benefits from the crazy, idiotic policies, if one can even call them that, Trump has pursued.

Nixon defined a moment in U.S. history by making an official visit as President to China, then still officially a “communist” enemy in the Cold War. The trip took everyone by surprise — the dedicated Cold Warrior pursuing an opening to improve relations with a supposed enemy. In some ways, it was Nixon being crazy, but crazy like a fox.

The only surprises we get from the so called president are the new depths of incompetence and criminality we learn about each week.

This week, the U.S. viewing public has had to endure a stream of stories and images from Trump’s misbegotten first trip abroad as President. He managed to make a pope who has resolutely ignored the festering scandal of priestly sex abuse of children look good. He rudely pushed the prime minister of Montenegro to get to the front of a group of world leaders before standing in front of cameras with a sickeningly self important look on his face. He then gave an embarrassing speech in which he persisted with his ill informed complaint about the alleged failure of other NATO counties to spend as much as he thinks they ought on defense.

In sum, the Donald knows nothing about healthcare policy, about the U.S. economy, about domestic security, or about foreign policy.

That is, Trump is very much like Nixon in his insanity and stunningly cavalier attitude toward the powers of the presidency, but he lacks Nixon’s qualifications to be President. He gives us the worst of both worlds.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *