Richard Nixon was a complicated man.
He was arguably our last liberal president. He transformed the political scene in countless ways; some good, some far from it. Together with Henry Kissinger, he was a geopolitical strategist of distinction who served the empire and the military industrial complex well.
Like Kissinger, he was also no slouch when it came to war crimes, crimes against the peace, and crimes against humanity. He got a whole lot of people killed and maimed — in Vietnam and elsewhere in Southeast Asia and throughout the world.
And while neither he nor the administration he superintended were unusually corrupt, he could boast, were he so inclined, of having many a “high crime and misdemeanor” under his belt, and of taking his oath to defend and protect the Constitution of the United States lightly or not at all.
He was, in short, a later-day version of the sort of villainous and tormented figure that readers might encounter in a historical drama authored by William Shakespeare.
Ironically, in light of all he deserved punishment for, Watergate, “a third rate burglary,” and the bollixed cover up it precipitated, did him and his administration in.
To this day, in the public imagination, Nixon and Watergate are joined at the hip in ways that, for example, Nixon and his secret war in Cambodia will never be.
Thus Watergate, like George Washington’s cherry tree, has become part of the American…