Greenville may have missed out on the new Amazon facility. One Amazon exec stated: "We wanted to go to Greenville but...

Nixon lied, smeared foes but accomplished much

albert hunt

Albert Hunt


Monday, June 25, 2018


It's a good time to think about Richard Nixon's presidency, both the evil in it and the good. President Donald Trump is replicating many of Nixon's worst qualities and almost none of his strengths.

Last Sunday was the 46th anniversary of the late-night break-in by Nixon's men at the Democratic National Committee office in Washington's Watergate complex. The White House lied about it, leading in time to multiple indictments and the appointment of a special prosecutor. The White House fired the prosecutor and was forced to name a successor whom Nixon's aides tried to smear. It all ended with a presidential resignation.

In the same month, Nixon signed Title 9 of the education amendments of 1972, one of the half-dozen most important civil rights measures of the past half-century. It banned discrimination on the basis of sex at federally financed educational institutions, opening the door to the widespread participation of women in college sports. This is reminder that for all his personal and political transgressions, Nixon was a smart, accomplished executive with some first-rate people around him.

The architects of Title 9 were two Democratic Congress members, Rep. Patsy Mink of Hawaii and Sen. Birch Bayh of Indiana. The Republican Nixon signed it and enforced it. It meant that an institution that received federal support, as almost all major colleges did, had to spend equally on women's and men's athletics. (There's a huge loophole for men's football, the biggest revenue gobbler by far.)

The impact has been remarkable. At the time, just a handful of women participated in college sports; now 200,000 do. The decline of the fabled Notre Dame football program is softened by the miraculous success of its women's basketball team, the 2018 National Collegiate Athletic Association champ.

In 1972, American women won 23 medals at the summer Olympics, less than a quarter of the U.S. total. In 2016, U.S. women won 62 medals, more than the American men.

Girls today have the opportunity to participate in sports at their schools and communities. Title 9 has been great for the country.

Nixon also created the Environmental Protection Agency as part of one of the most successful government reorganization programs since World War II. His 1974 health-care initiative, more ambitious than Obamacare, didn't succeed, but the liberal lion of the Senate, Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., later said that opposing it was one of the biggest mistakes of his career. In foreign policy, Nixon's opening to China was infinitely more consequential and far more considered than Trump's North Korea foray.

Yes, Nixon and his foreign-policy adviser Henry Kissinger extended the Vietnam War for five years, with 21,000 Americans killed, knowing it was a lost cause.

The crimes Nixon committed — illegally misusing the Central Intelligence Agency, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Internal Revenue Service to attack his enemies, and obstructing the investigations of his misdeeds — merited the impeachment he faced before resigning on Aug. 9, 1974.

It's also instructive, however, especially with comparisons being made to Trump, to remember that there was another side to the man. For the sins of Nixon men like Attorney General John Mitchell and White House hatchet man Chuck Colson, there also were men of high caliber in his administration. Think of Commerce Secretary Peter Peterson, Treasury Secretary George Shultz, Treasury Undersecretary Paul Volcker, Defense Secretaries Melvin Laird and James Schlesinger, domestic policy aide Donald Rumsfeld, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development George Romney.

And don't forget the heroes of the 1973 Saturday Night Massacre, Attorney General Elliott Richardson and his deputy Bill Ruckelshaus, who resigned rather than cooperate in the firing of special prosecutor Archibald Cox. The contrast with Trumpworld hardly needs elaboration.

During the first year of his presidency, before political paranoia fully set in, Nixon periodically oversaw spirited debates over health care, welfare and economic policy between Arthur Burns, the most eminent conservative economist of that age, and Daniel Patrick Moynihan, the brilliant economic and social-policy progressive. Moynihan usually won.

Try to imagine Trump tuning in to a comparable debate today.

Albert Hunt is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering politics and policy. He was the executive editor of Bloomberg News and a reporter, bureau chief and executive Washington editor at the Wall Street Journal.


Humans of Greenville


Local photographer Joe Pellegrino explores Greenville to create a photographic census of its people.

Op Ed

November 16, 2018

U.S. Food and Drug Administration commissioner Scott Gottlieb on Wednesday announced new measures regulating the sale of products that seem to reduce the negative health impacts of nicotine addiction — in the name of protecting children from those health impacts.

Oddly, Gottlieb also…


November 16, 2018

In mob movies they call it "going to the mattresses" — getting ready for war.

One day after voters put an end to unaccountable, strongman-style, one-party rule in Washington, Trump moved to cover his flank. He shoved out Attorney General Jeff Sessions and installed a replacement, Matt…

Eugene Robinson

November 15, 2018

When French President Emmanuel Macron denounced populist nationalism this week and called on world leaders to support institutions such as the United Nations that defend "the common good of the world," liberal elites cheered. The speech was seen as a rebuke of President Trump, whose opposition to…


November 15, 2018

The 2018 election is finally and mercifully over and now is no time for progressives to rest on their laurels. Having taken some promising initial steps in the struggle to overcome Trumpism and build a better, fairer, freer and more sustainable nation and planet, now is the time for caring and…

Rob Schofield

November 15, 2018

Bad news for North Carolina is official: Amazon decided to split its east coast headquarters between two cities — and neither one is in our state. New York City and Alexandria, Va., will split the estimated 50,000 jobs and $5 billion in investment from the Seattle company’s…

Mark Johnson

November 14, 2018

The Washington Post

One of American elections' biggest vulnerabilities can be found in one of the most obvious places: the voting machines themselves. The country's voting infrastructure may not have been tampered with this time around, but experts say outdated systems and an overreliance on…

November 14, 2018

When Democrats took control of the House in Tuesday's midterm elections, two things were certain: President Trump's remaining legislative agenda is dead, and the chamber's Judiciary Committee is ready to combat any White House attempt to meddle in or obstruct special counsel Robert S. Mueller's…


November 14, 2018

According to a recent report in The New York Times, Health and Human Services Department officials have been circulating a proposal to define sex. Their memo says, "Sex means a person's status as male or female based on immutable biological traits identifiable by or before birth."

They add, "The…

Walter Williams

November 13, 2018

Jennifer Rubin, The Washington Post

"Saturday Night Live" comedian Pete Davidson got reamed for making a tasteless joke a week ago Saturday about Dan Crenshaw, a former Navy SEAL who lost his eye in combat in Afghanistan. Days later, Texans elected Crenshaw, a Republican, to Congress. On…

November 13, 2018

Democrats achieved significant victories this year in the “inner suburbs” of Charlotte, Raleigh, Greensboro, and North Carolina’s other major cities — tossing out GOP incumbents in the General Assembly, county commissions, and other offices.

Although Republicans did better…

john hood.jpg
303 stories in Op Ed. Viewing 1 through 10.
«First Page   «Previous Page        
Page 1 of 31
        Next Page»   Last Page»