Nixon and Obama—Soul Brothers?

Four decades ago, Lamar Alexander
worked in Richard Nixon`s White House. Sen. Alexander
today says Barack Obama`s White House reminds him of
that place, that time, that mindset and those people. [Tennessee
Sen. Alexander to Obama`s White House: Don`t fall into
Nixon`s trap of an `enemies list`

Intending no disrespect to my old
colleague, these days are not at all like those days,
and this president and White House are nothing like the
White House in which this writer worked from
Inauguration Day 1969 to August 1974, when Marine One
lifted off the lawn.

Richard Nixon had been elected in
the most turbulent year since the

Civil War.

Between New Hampshire and November,
there was the
Tet Offensive,

`s announcement he would not run again, the
murder of Martin Luther King Jr. in Memphis,

race riots
in 100 cities and Washington, D.C., the
takeover of

Columbia University
by radicals, the assassination
of Robert Kennedy, a

Democratic convention in Chicago
marked by rancor
inside the hall and police-radical confrontations
outside, and a campaign in which Hubert Humphrey was
shouted down at rallies until he agreed to a bombing
halt in Vietnam.

No, these times are not those

Nixon took the oath as a minority
president, 43 percent, in a hostile city, with both
houses of Congress against him and a national press
corps that had loathed him since he

the establishment golden boy
Alger Hiss
as a Soviet spy, 20 years before.

Obama took the oath with close to a
filibuster-proof Senate, a near 80-seat majority in the
House, the media at his feet, not his throat, and a city
in adulation that had voted 93 to 7 for

Barack Hussein Obama

Not even JFK entered office with
more goodwill.

While Obama inherited an economic
situation far worse than did Nixon, Nixon inherited a
war far more divisive and bloody than Iraq and
Afghanistan combined, with 535,000 troops in Vietnam or
on the way, and 200 soldiers coming home every week in
caskets and body bags.

By October 1969, Nixon had ordered
100,000 troops home from Vietnam, proposed a Family
Assistance Plan, enunciated a new Nixon Doctrine,
welcomed the Apollo 11 astronauts home from the moon and
become the first President to visit a communist country,

Obama has held a

beer summit
won a
Nobel Peace Prize

In both October and November of
1969, 500,000 demonstrators marched on Washington to—in

words of David Broder
Richard Nixon"
as they had broken Lyndon Johnson.

Wrote Broder,
"The likelihood
is great that they will succeed again."

"Instead of
making pronouncements about not being the first U.S.
president to lose a war,"

admonished Time
"Nixon would perform a better service by preparing the country for the
trauma of distasteful reversal"
—i.e, a

Nixon answered the demonstrators
and their media auxiliaries with a Nov. 3. speech

"the Great Silent Majority"
to stand with him and
against those out to destroy his policy and presidency.

When the three networks—primary
sources of news for two-thirds of the nation
then—trashed his speech, Nixon authorized a
counterattack by Vice President Agnew, which caused an
avalanche of telegrams to pour into ABC, CBS and NBC
denouncing them, in solidarity with the administration.

By December, it was not Nixon who
was broken. Antiwar activists never mustered those
numbers again, and the media had been exposed as out of
touch with Middle America.

That month, Nixon rose to near 70
percent approval, and Agnew was the third most admired
man in America, after Nixon and

Nixon and Agnew had not wanted the
fight, they had not started the fight, but they had not
backed down—and they had won the fight.

What were they supposed to do,
Lamar? And when has Obama encountered anything like

Lamar left the White House in
mid-1970 and decries Agnew`s

of Albert Gore Sr., of his home state of
Tennessee, as "the Southern regional chairman of the Eastern Liberal Establishment."

But was that not true? Gore was
defeated in 1970 because he had lost touch with
Tennessee. And Lamar`s friend

They may have called us all
paranoid, but as

Henry Kissinger
once mordantly observed,
"Sometimes, even
paranoids have real enemies."

As for an
"enemies list,"
the only mistake was writing it down.

Does Lamar not think Nixon had
enemies out to destroy him?

Does he not believe there was
rejoicing in Washington when Nixon fell, or smug
satisfaction when Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos were
lost—on the faces of those who persuaded themselves that
America could not succeed in Vietnam because they had

No one denies Nixon made mistakes.
Even he

, "I
gave them a sword, and they ran it through me."

But those enemies were not a
figment of his or our imagination. The Nixon-haters were
real, and they were legion.

In 1969-1970, Nixon had a choice:
capitulate or fight.

Compared with what he went through,
Obama had a cakewalk.



Patrick J. Buchanan


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