"You want to know what this is really all about? The Nixon campaign in 1968, and the Nixon White House after that, had two enemies: the anti-war left and black people. You understand what I'm saying?"
Aide to President Richard M. Nixon
Yeah, we understand, Johnny; all too well.
In the forty-two years since Dick Nixon resigned from the presidency in complete and utter disgrace, his apologists have held up the hope that, with the passing of the decades, historians would begin to revision him. Delivering the eulogy at his funeral in May of 1994, President Bill Clinton declared that the time had come to judge Nixon by his entire career, not merely through the jagged prism of the Watergate scandal. Indeed, we no longer view Nixon through the same lens with which we viewed him on August 9, 1974, the day he was sent packing. That's the good news. Are you ready for the bad? It was worse than any of us ever imagined in our wildest, most demented dreams. As more and more tapes and hidden memoirs are made public, it becomes clearer with the passing of each year: This was one despicably evil son-of-a-bitch.
This undeniable fact was brought home to me, yet again, when I scanned the front page of Wednesday's New York Daily News:
NIXON ADMINISTATION INVENTED ANTI-DRUG CAMPAIGN TO TARGET MINORITIES
The so-called "war on drugs" was nothing more than a pogrom developed for no other reason than to persecute African Americans and the counter-culture. Now that we know the motivation behind the "war", do you think this might be as good a time as any to end it? I'm just putting the thought out there.
Ehrlichman, who died in 1999, was interviewed five years earlier by writer, Dan Baum, for a book called, "Smoke and Mirrors: The War on Drugs and the Politics off Failure". At the time, Mr. Baum thought that this little bombshell was not pertinent to his thesis, and, for reasons known only to him, he inexplicably chose to delete it from the manuscript. Nixon's handmaidens are, at the moment, beside themselves in a desperate attempt to explain away this major - and quite scandalous - revelation. Their spin is that this is merely a case of rancid grapes, that poor old Johnny never forgave the Trickster for not granting him full and unconditional pardon (he would serve eighteen months in prison for his crimes). Ehrlichman was usually pretty candid about his role in the Nixon administration. He kindly elaborated further:
"We knew we couldn't make it illegal to be against the war - or black - but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana, and blacks with heroin, and then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities....Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did,"
None of this has surprised me a bit. Anyone possessing even a cursory knowledge of the life of the old bastard knows full well that, in addition to Jews and "lefties", Dick Nixon had a serious problem with minorities in general and black people in particular.
During the campaign of '68, Southern resentment toward Lyndon Johnson and the Democrats was festering. For over a century Dixie had been solidly Democratic. They just couldn't bring themselves to ally with the party of "that bearded bastard that freed our slaves". That all changed when LBJ signed into law the Civil Rights Act of 1964, followed by the Voting Rights act of 1965. The hostility of the Dixiecrats gave Nixon the political opportunity of the millennium. He and his henchmen cooked-up what came to be known as "the Southern Strategy".
In the aftermath of the nationwide urban riots following the assassination of Martin Luther King, Nixon let it be known, in a not-too-subtle way, that "law 'n' order" would be the order of the day in his administration, and that the good, God-fearin' folks south of the Mason-Dixon line would no longer be jolted by uprisings from these filthy, ill-mannered negroes - forget the fact that the riots were almost exclusively limited to Northern cities.
The scam worked. "The Solid South" has been solidly Republican ever since. Don'cha just love politics? I do. I really do!
I've read enough biographies of Richard Milhous Nixon to know that he was a really smart guy - one of the smartest men to hold that office in the twentieth century. Even his most ardent detractors concede that he wasn't stupid - arrogant, yes - but very intelligent. I also know that he was psychologically unbalanced and that he never should have gotten within ten feet of the Oval Office. To think that for over four decades, generations of Americans, most of them African American or Hispanic, have suffered needlessly under our insanely punitive drug laws for no other reason than Dick Nixon's desire to score some cheap political points and win re-election in 1972. It defies any and all senses of human decency. We need to stop apologizing for this vile, contemptible bigot.
When Harry S Truman's presidency expired on January 20, 1953, his popularity among the American electorate was lower than any chief-executive in modern American history. It was even lower than George W. Bush's rating when he left the White House (which is an achievement in itself when you think about it). By that time, the right wing SCREAM MACHINE, in the person of Senator Joseph R. McCarthy, was just finding its voice. Posterity's judgment has been kinder to Harry than his contemporaries were. I'll never forget the final sentence of David McCullough's biography of the man:
"He stands like a rock in history."
The Trickster won't be one/tenth as lucky. He stands like a turd. Richard Milhous Nixon needs to be consigned to history's dust bin - immediately.
I'll close this with a quote from the late Hunter Thompson, the most outspoken Nixon critic of them all:
“It is Nixon himself who represents that dark, venal and incurably violent side of the American character that almost every country in the world has learned to fear and despise. Our Barbie-doll president, with his Barbie-doll wife and his boxful of Barbie-doll children is also America's answer to the monstrous Mr. Hyde. He speaks for the Werewolf in us; the bully, the predatory shyster who turns into something unspeakable, full of claws and bleeding string-warts on nights when the moon comes too close…”
Witness to Power
by John Ehrlichman
A very interesting political memoir to say the least. Ehrlichman was there at the scene of the crime, and is as candid as any insider ever was about the corruption of the Nixon Mob.