Kicking Dick
George Szamuely
New York Press


Toward 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 Kennedy’s 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… And then, 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… And then 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."

So everything was wonderful in America until that terrible man Richard Nixon came along to spoil it all. America’s 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 nation’s 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." Gore’s observations were a little more opaque than Clinton’s. 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?

Vietnam, 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 book, The Arrogance of Power. The sense of decorum, which had prevented The New York Times – today’s chief purveyor of official history – from repeating Juanita Broaddrick’s allegation of rape against Bill Clinton, was notably absent as it retailed gleefully Summers’ ludicrous story of Nixon beating his wife.

The 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. Nixon’s 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 nation’s "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, Nixon’s "war on drugs," unlike Clinton’s, 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 Clinton’s inconsequential White House tenure. Yet this is not how official history tells it.

More than 25 years after Nixon’s 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.

The 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 year’s 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 public’s attention from his lies about Monica Lewinsky. The media cheered Clinton throughout.

Official 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.

Read George Szamuely's Exclusive Column

Archived Columns by George Szamuely from the New York Press

Kicking Dick

Whore on Drugs

Soros' World

The Good Lieberman

Nader-Buchanan 2000

W's Oil Warriors

Rupert's Hillary

The Veep's No VIP

Hollow Mexico

Death of Innocents

NATO's Home Free

Poll Attacks

Israel's Powerful Friends

Defense Against What?

God Bless Rehnquist!

Long, Hillary Summer

Communicating Power

Law as Ordered

What Threat?

Peculiar Yet Brave

Closed to Debate

Arrogance of Power

Prison Love

Gore's Oil

Rough Justice

Race Race

Al the Coward

Intruder Alert

McCain's Money

Haider Seek

Out of Africa

Prosecute NATO

Villain or Victim?

Intervention, Immigration, and Internment

Home-Grown Terrorism

Who Benefits?

Laws of Return

Embassy Row

Selling Snake Oil

Chinese Puzzle

That Was No Lady, That Was the Times

The Red Tide Turning?

Pat & The Pod

United Fundamentalist States

Let Them All Have Nukes!

Liar, Liar

Gangster Nations

Puerto Rico Libre – and Good Riddance

Leave China Alone

A World Safe for Kleptocracy

Proud To Be Un-American

All articles reprinted with permission from the New York Press


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