the end of his appallingly self-congratulatory speech at
the Democratic National Convention, Bill Clinton put forward
a bizarre thesis: "I graduated from high school in
1964. Our country was still very sad because of President
Kennedys death, but full of hope under the leadership
of President Johnson. And I assumed then, like most Americans,
that our economy was absolutely on automatic
before we knew it, there were riots in the streets
The leaders that I adored as a young man Martin Luther
King and Robert Kennedy were killed
we had an election in 1968 that took America on a far different
and more divisive course, and, you know, within months after
that election, the last longest economic expansion in history
was itself history."
everything was wonderful in America until that terrible
man Richard Nixon came along to spoil it all. Americas
subsequent economic problems had nothing to do with the
vast expense of the Vietnam War that LBJ had refused to
raise taxes to pay for. Three days later, Al Gore parroted
his boss startling insight: "I finished college
at a time when
our nations spirit was being depleted.
We saw the assassination of our best leaders. Appeals to
racial backlash. And the first warning signs of Watergate.
I remember the conversations I had with Tipper back then and
the doubts we had about the Vietnam War." Gores
observations were a little more opaque than Clintons.
What exactly were the "first warning signs of Watergate"?
What were his "doubts" about the Vietnam War?
That it is wrong to pulverize a small country? Or that it
is only wrong to do so when said small country knows how
to fight back and has powerful friends?
Watergate, Nixon the official liberal version of
history must be told and retold with the regard for factual
accuracy of a high school textbook from the Stalin era.
According to official history, Americans, instead of falling
on their knees in gratitude to leaders like Clinton and
Gore and obviously Kennedy and Johnson fall
for the wily machinations of a Richard Nixon. It is the
theme of Anthony Summers trivial and ill-written new
Arrogance of Power. The sense of decorum, which
had prevented The New York Times todays
chief purveyor of official history from repeating
Juanita Broaddricks allegation of rape against Bill
Clinton, was notably absent as it retailed gleefully Summers
ludicrous story of Nixon beating his wife.
hacks were too busy high-fiving one other in joy at the
prospect of four Gore years to wonder if there was not something
bizarre about two men, who boast proudly of the number of
people they have kicked off the welfare rolls, attacking
as "divisive" a president who had once proposed
a federally guaranteed minimum income. The same president
had also sought to introduce a comprehensive health insurance
plan more than 20 years before Clinton. Nixons HMO
Act of 1973, incidentally, institutionalized the system
of modern managed care. Nixon also created the Environmental
Protection Agency, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration
and the Consumer Product Safety Commission. He launched
the nations "affirmative action" program
with his Executive Order 11,478, which required all federal
agencies to prohibit discrimination and provide equal employment
opportunity. And he introduced the concept of "goals
and timetables" to ensure that federal contractors
would have a racially "diverse" labor force. In
addition, Nixons "war on drugs," unlike
Clintons, did not involve spraying the fields of other
countries with herbicides or training killers masquerading
as an army to go out and slaughter unarmed civilians. Nixon
expanded methadone programs and other forms of drug treatment.
Whatever one may think of the programs of the Nixon administration,
it towers in legislative achievement next to Clintons
inconsequential White House tenure. Yet this is not how
official history tells it.
than 25 years after Nixons resignation one is still
supposed to shudder at the mention of his name. Imagine Nixon
had asked the CIA to lean on the FBI to curtail their investigation
of the Watergate break-in! Now, that is a violation of the
oath of office; that goes beyond the bounds of constitutional
propriety; that is an impeachable offense. Ordering the
CIA to assassinate Fidel Castro as the Kennedys did, on
the other hand, falls well within the purview of the oath
of office. Ordering the CIA to overthrow the legitimate
governments of Iran and Guatemala is also apparently well
within the constitutional prerogatives of the presidency.
United States bombs Iraq on an almost daily basis to enforce
the so-called "no fly zones." Neither the bombing
nor the "no fly zones" have ever been authorized
by any United Nations Security Council resolution. During
last years bombing spree on Yugoslavia also a
violation of international law Clinton explicitly targeted
President Slobodan Milosevic. This is a violation of U.S.
law, which forbids the assassination of foreign leaders.
Clinton bombed a pharmaceutical factory in Sudan to distract
the publics attention from his lies about Monica Lewinsky.
The media cheered Clinton throughout.
history will have us believe that Nixon should have simply
pulled U.S. troops out of Vietnam the moment he took over.
Almost four years after all U.S. troops were supposed to
have left Bosnia, they are still there, with no prospect
of withdrawal anytime soon. U.S. troops in Kosovo are also
there to stay. This elicits almost no protest. The purveyors
of "official history" are only "troubled"
by foreign entanglements against tough opponents like the
Vietnamese. Beating up weaklings like Noriega or Slobo or
Saddam is so much more fun.