“He left. I don’t leave. A big difference.”
— President Trump, quoted by Politico, on the difference between him and Richard Nixon.
“Somewhere Dick Nixon is smiling.”
— Trump confidant Roger Stone, quoted by the New York Times, on the firing of FBI Director James Comey.
In his resignation letter released last night, National Security Adviser Michael Flynn said he was quitting his post because he had “inadvertently” lied to Mike Pence about whether he’d discussed Pres.Obama’s sanctions against Russia in a phone call with the Russian ambassador in a phone call in December.
From the administration that gave us “alternate facts,” now we have inadvertent lies.
But there’s much more to this story — and what lies beneath what is publicly known now could have devastating consequences for Donald Trump:
I don’t think Richard Nixon even comes close to the level of corruption we already know about Trump.
— Former Nixon White House counsel John Dean, in an interview with The Atlantic.
Trump is not just the most emotionally fragile president since Nixon: He’s literally planning to hang a framed letter from R.N. in the Oval Office. He modeled his RNC speech last summer off Nixon’s from 48 years earlier. Repudiating Reaganism, which won the Cold War, he’s embracing Nixon’s ‘madman theory’ of foreign policy. He’s consulting with the disgraced former president’s advisers. He’s stocking his West Wing with his protégés – including one whom he has decided to stand by despite egregious plagiarism that no other White House would tolerate.
— James Hohmann
For twenty years, many people in Israel and in the West have expressed the hope that Benjamin Netanyahu would prove to be the Richard Nixon of the State of Israel … the Nixon who yearned to enter the pantheon of statesmen, and who defied his Red-baiting past and initiated diplomatic relations with the People’s Republic of China. … It is amazing to recall how long this fantasy persisted.
— David Remnick, writing in the New Yorker.
Previous Presidents, including great ones like Roosevelt, have used the IRS against their enemies. But I don’t think Barack Obama ever wanted to be on the same page as Richard Nixon. In this specific case, he now is.
— Joe Klein, writing for NYT’s Swampland blog.
The BBC reports that in the final weeks of the 1968 presidential campaign, Richard Nixon, the Republican challenger, deployed Anna Chennault, a journalist, anti-communist activist and Republican operative, to disrupt peace talks among the United States, Saigon and Hanoi at the very moment that a deal had been reached to end the war.
Based on the assumption that his chances of winning the presidency would be ruined if the Democratic administration successfully ended the unpopular war, Nixon secretly dispatched Chennault to kill the peace deal.
Chennault was successful in convincing the South Vietnamese that they would get a better deal from Nixon, were he to be elected. Within days after Pres. Johnson had announced that “peace was at hand,” the South Vietnamese abruptly rejected the terms that had been negotiated by the U.S. government.
Nixon was elected a few weeks later with just 0.7 percent of the vote — 43.4 percent for Nixon and 42.7 percent for Vice Pres. Hubert Humphrey, the Democratic nominee. (Former Alabama Gov. George Wallace, the Southern racist independent candidate, received 13.5 percent of the vote.)
But after Nixon took office in January, it became clear that the promises relayed to the South Vietnamese by Chennault on his behalf were lies. There was no better offer for them. He had no plan for ending the war. As a result, it would drag on for five more years, until the United States and South Vietnam were defeated by the communist North.
After losing his election bid for California governor in 1962, Richard Nixon held a news conference in which he lashed out at the press. “[As] I leave you,” Nixon said to a roomful of the reporters who had covered his campaign, “I want you to know…. just think how much you’re going to be missing. You don’t have Nixon to kick around any more, because, gentlemen, this is my last press conference.”
Mitt Romney — who refused to speak with the press for the final 24 days of the presidential election — gave his farewell address, fittingly, on a conference call with fatcat donors on his national finance committee.
In his own robotic way, Romney was just as petulant as Nixon. But instead of attacking the media, Romney took the opportunity to kick around Americans who voted for Pres. Obama — by accusing them of trading their votes for perks like “free contraceptives” and insurance coverage: