Quay County Sun - Serving the High Plains

In Nixon vs. Trump, Nixon wins


May 15, 2019

The investigation into Russian involvement in President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign has inevitably been compared to the Watergate scandal that brought down President Richard Nixon in 1974.

The same fierce battles are raging and both sides are using means both fair and foul.

The presidents, however, are a stark contrast.

If I had to choose between them, Nixon would win hands down.

Nixon grew up poor in California towns.

Trump was born rich and stayed that way in spite of huge business losses.

Nixon made his own way through Whittier College a humble home-town school, then law school at Duke University.

Trump’s career at prestigious colleges for the very smart or the very rich was lackluster. His dad paid the freight.

When World War II broke out, Nixon was in his late 20s, but he volunteered for the Navy. He even volunteered for sea duty to get close to the action.

Trump’s father seems to have persuaded a doctor to say Donald had bone spurs in his feet so he could avoid military service altogether.

After the war, Nixon almost immediately ran for public office.

He served two terms in the House of Representatives, and in 1950, he was elected to the U.S. Senate. In 1952, he became the nation’s youngest vice president under President Dwight D. Eisenhower.

In 1960, Nixon lost a close presidential election to John F. Kennedy.

Nixon won the White House in 1968 and was re-elected in 1972.

As president, Nixon wound down U.S. involvement in the Vietnam war and brought home prisoners of war.

He opened dialogue with China and negotiated an anti-ballistic missile treaty with the Soviet Union.

He signed into law the Environmental Protection Act and enforced desegregation of southern schools.

But then came Watergate. The dirty tricks that helped Nixon win his second term by a landslide in 1972 brought him down in 1974, and that unfortunately is how he is chiefly remembered.

Trump? Until he improbably won the presidency in 2016, Trump served Trump. He still does.

He knew nothing about being president when he was elected and has learned nothing about it since.

He has undone more than he has accomplished. He rolled back taxes mostly for the rich. He has canceled regulations and reduced national parks and monuments.

He has alienated allies and sheltered enemies.

Until Watergate, Nixon was a hard-working statesman and an effective, if often controversial, public servant. Watergate was a tragedy.

Trump’s scattershot, self-serving bumbling would make his ouster due to the Mueller report a relief.

Steve Hansen writes about our life and times from his perspective of a semi-retired Tucumcari journalist. Contact him at:

[email protected]


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