A conversation I had last week reminded me of how much I really hated Richard Nixon. My friend Jeremy and I ended up discussing politics, particularly the policies of various US Presidents. I expressed my somewhat ambivalent opinion of George W. Bush: If it had not been for September 11, he would never have been able to invade Iraq, would have passed immigration reform, and go down in history as a moderately successful one-term President. I have more respect for the person Bush had the potential to become, rather than the person that the situations of his time made Bush.
There was also a pretty funny joke about how William Henry Harrison probably should be left off any qualitative ranking of US Presidents, as he was dumb enough to die of pneumonia within a month. And I learned quite a few interesting and unsavoury things about Andrew Jackson and what could have been the Five Nations Autonomous Indigenous Region in the state of Georgia.
Then Jeremy asked me about Nixon. An initial comparison to Bush was possible, but I quickly dismissed it. Bush jr may have done some awful things in office, and made some terrible decisions. But I still believe that he was doing what he thought was best, and that he is actually a genuinely morally decent individual, at least regarding intentions.
Richard Nixon never made a decision that was not driven by resentment, spite, and hatred. He ran the Presidency as a personal fiefdom, purposely setting out to ruin and destroy anyone who opposed him. He took every political conflict personally. He was the major political motivator in crushing the liberatory ideals of the 1960s, if not in direct causation, then in inspiring and organizing the conservative, reactionary vanguard against them. If he had been elected in 1960 instead of Kennedy, he would have done what Curtis LeMay told him and started a nuclear war with Russia that would have destroyed at least half the Earth.
There has never been a democratic leader in the West more harmful to his people and more disgraceful to the status of his office than Richard Milhouse Nixon. I said to Jeremy that I don’t believe in God, but if there is a God, I hope that he invented a special hell worse than any that had already been established, to send Nixon to. He would probably have been strapped to a chair and forced to hear Allen Ginsberg poetry, recitations of atheist humanist essays, and Doors records for the next billion years before behind annihilated, dispersed into the sweet release of entropic oblivion.