August 12-13, 2014 -- Ghost of Richard Nixon haunts Hillary Clinton
publication date: Aug 11, 2014
August 12-13, 2014 -- Ghost of Richard Nixon haunts Hillary Clinton
As the nation reflects on the 40th anniversary of the resignation of President Richard Nixon from office, Washington's pundits are wondering aloud about "future Nixons" who might assume the presidency. One name that keeps popping up again and again as a person who has the "air of Nixon" about her is all-but-declared 2016 presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.
At a July 30 panel held at The Washington Post building, Watergate reporter Carl Bernstein and retired Post columnist Elizabeth Drew commented on the similarities between Mrs. Clinton and Nixon and the "air" of Nixon that surrounds Clinton. The major similarity with Nixon is Clinton's tendency to be loose with the truth. WMR's editor was told by the ghost writer for Clinton's 2003 "autobiography," Living History, that the book is packed with falsehoods. Many of Clinton's claims, when fact checked, turned out to be false or hugely embellished. When the ghost writer brought these to Clinton's attention, she barked back, "I'm paying you to write this fucking book, not question it."
And it's not merely Mrs. Clinton's tendency to lie and use foul language that has many observing Nixonian traits in the former First Lady and Secretary of State. In the 1960 presidential election, Vice President Nixon distanced himself from incumbent President Dwight Eisenhower, who dearly wanted to eject Nixon from the ticket in the 1956 election, by suggesting that Ike was soft on communism. The charge stemmed from Eisenhower's refusal to be drawn into the 1956 Anglo-French-Israeli invasion of Suez to help unseat Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser from power in Cairo and his unwillingness to confront the USSR after its 1956 invasion of Hungary. Nixon was also well aware that Eisenhower secretly offered the Soviets a deal to jointly cooperate in space exploration and end the costly "space race" for both nations.
Similarly, Clinton has openly criticized President Obama over his refusal to militarily back Syrian guerrillas attempting to oust Syrian President Bashar al Assad from power. Obama has reportedly branded the charge that his inaction caused the rise of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) or "Islamic State" as "horse shit." Ike reportedly used similar barnyard epithets about his vice president.
Eisenhower, when asked before the 1960 election if he could name one thing Nixon accomplished as vice president, laughed and said, "If you give me a week, I might think of one." The slap by Ike was seen as a boost to the John F. Kennedy campaign and it was used in Kennedy TV ads.
Nixon believed that the presidency was stolen from him in 1960 by Kennedy. Nevertheless, Nixon was convinced that it was his manifest destiny to become president, even after his humiliating defeat for California governor in 1962 by Edmund "Pat" Brown. Similarly, Clinton believes that Obama took away what many considered to be her "coronation" as president in 2008. She and her husband, Bill Clinton, still carry grudges against the many Democrats who, early on, supported Obama. Nixon, as is known from the Watergate tapes and other records, was the supreme grudge keeper, blaming a number of people for his electoral losses in 1960 and 1962. Nixon carried all of his grudges into the White House in 1969 and used them as a basis for his infamous "enemy's list."
Many Washington observers believe that the Clintons also have a list of political enemies that they would bring into the White House in order to exact revenge.
Mrs. Clinton also recently publicly distanced herself from the Obama administration. Clinton endorsed Israel's military occupation of the West Bank even as her successor at the State Department, John Kerry, was attempting to restart Israeli-Palestinian talks in spite of Israel's genocidal campaign in Gaza that killed a thousand and a half people, many of them innocent children, women, handicapped, and elderly. Mrs. Clinton essentially came out against a Palestinian state while Obama and Kerry are still pressing Israel to maintain its previously-held commitment to a free and independent Palestine in the West Bank and Gaza.
Products of the same tide? Hillary Clinton's and Richard Nixon's worrisome similarities.
While Nixon and Mrs. Clinton both made statements that were viewed as "anti-Semitic" over their political careers, the commitment of both to Israel remains unquestioned. Nixon ranted about Jewish influence in the courts, media, and universities but was willing to risk nuclear war with the Soviet Union in 1974 in order to save Israel from a joint Egyptian-Soviet military assault.
Although Mrs. Clinton once referred to Paul Fray, her husband's 1974 campaign manager for a congressional seat in Arkansas, as a "fucking Jew bastard," her loyalty to Israel and its right-wing government is rock solid. Mrs. Clinton was also known for having some choice words, some of them referring to religion, about her husband's White House aide Rahm Emanuel early on in the Clinton administration. It is well known that Mrs. Clinton wanted Emanuel, who once served in the Israel Defense Force and whose father served in an Israeli terrorist outfit fighting the British, fired from the White House staff. But Mrs. Clinton's anti-Semitic outbursts, similar to Nixon's, never shook her support for Israel.
Ironically, before she married Bill Clinton, Hillary Rodham, then 27, served as an attorney on the Senate Watergate Committee investigating Nixon. Her supervisor, Jerry Zeifman, claimed he fired Rodham and refused to give her a recommendation for employment because he considered her to be a liar and an "unethical, dishonest lawyer." Rodham was accused of removing files on the 1970 impeachment attempt by the House Judiciary Committee of Associate U.S. Supreme Court Justice William. The files set a precedent on the ability of an impeachment subject to hire counsel to represent them in the House proceedings. Rodham removed the documents so they would not be available to House and Senate Watergate investigators who were being asked by the White House and congressional Republicans to allow Nixon to have counsel cross examine witnesses in the House impeachment hearings. It was agreed in 1970 that Douglas would have counsel present in the House proceedings to cross-examine witnesses but Rodham had no intention of affording that privilege to Nixon. Rodham's misdeeds were supported by her colleague Bernard Nussbaum, who later became her husband's White House counsel and helped cover up aspects of the alleged 1993 suicide of deputy White House counsel Vince Foster.
Mrs. Clinton and Nixon have one major difference.
Nixon was a lifelong Republican. Mrs. Clinton, on the other hand, had been a member of her high school's Young Republican Club and she served as a "Goldwater Girl," championing the 1964 candidacy of Republican Barry Goldwater's right-wing campaign against Lyndon Johnson. Mrs. Clinton later switched to the Democratic Party, supporting Eugene McCarthy in 1968. However, at the same time she was supporting McCarthy, she was interning for House GOP Minority leader Gerald Ford and assisting the Nelson Rockefeller campaign against Nixon at the 1968 Republican National Convention. By claiming to be working for McCarthy and Rockefeller, while also working for Ford, Clinton appears to have been more of a Karl Rove-like political agent of influence than a committed candidate or party loyalist.
Unlike Mrs. Clinton and the Democratic Party, no one ever questioned Nixon's loyalty to the GOP. And that fact, alone, potentially makes a Hillary Clinton presidency potentially more dangerous than that of Nixon. In the end, it was a delegation of the Republican Party's gray eminences of Goldwater, Senate Minority Leader Hugh Scott, and House Minority Leader John Rhodes that convinced Nixon to resign for the good of the country. Mrs. Clinton's chameleon-like loyalties would make her a tougher person for her own Democratic Party to deal with if she decided to violate the Constitution on a Nixonian scale. And that is why some seasoned political observers in Washington are worried about a Hillary Clinton presidency.
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