In 1952, when U.S. Senator Richard Nixon of California was selected by GOP power brokers to be Dwight Eisenhower’s presidential running mate, Ike wasn’t thrilled as Nixon already had a reputation of an unethical campaigner. In fact, his nickname was “Tricky Dick.” And sure enough, well before the election a scandal surfaced that Nixon had received illegal campaign funds. Desperate, Nixon went on TV and gave what came to be known as the “Checkers Speech.” (It’s on YouTube and Nixon is so obviously lying you can almost see his nose grow.)
In the address Nixon stated, “There are no mink coats for the Nixons and I’m proud that my wife Pat wears a good Republican cloth coat.” He denied any wrongdoing but did admit that the Nixon family had received a very special gift, He was referring to a Cocker Spaniel puppy with a black and white coat named “Checkers” that Nixon’s two young daughters adored, prompting Nixon to insist, “We will never give Checkers back.”
The speech was so corny it was pathetic but dog lovers all over America flooded Western Union with telegrams in support of Nixon remaining on the GOP ticket and so he was. The rest, however, would be history including Watergate during which Nixon insisted, “I’m not a crook!” And yet the disgraceful scandal resulted in 55 convictions and 15 in the Nixon administration being sent to prison.
Ultimately Nixon resigned and was pardoned by Gerald Ford who became VP when Spiro Agnew, who regularly took envelopes of cash bribes even in the White House, also resigned. (That was some ethically challenged ticket, Nixon and Agnew both of whom left office in shame but dodged the hoosegow.)
Ford, in saying “Our long national nightmare is over,” claimed he pardoned Nixon “For the good of the country.” That left me incensed. Why did so many go to jail for illegal actions perpetrated on behalf of Nixon and yet Tricky Dick retired to his ocean estate in San Clemente where he lived out a life in wonderful comfort? I wonder had Nixon been sent to prison as he deserved, if that might have caused Donald Trump, aka as of Thursday, Georgia Inmate #P01135809, to think twice before committing his endless crimes. Of course, I’m not sure Trump, the malignant narcissist, ever thinks twice.
In any event the Trump administration, which lasted only four years, will likely set records for indictments and prison time. And yet our “long Trump national nightmare” feels like it may never be over. At least not until Trump, who is out on bail in four jurisdictions charged with 91 felonies and facing a whopping 641 years, hears his steel cell door slam shut behind him.
I acknowledge that I may be biased but let’s look at the record and see why. The Nixon administration in 5 ½ years had 76 indictments. 55 criminal convictions with 15 serving time in prison time. In 8 years, Ronald Reagan’s administration had 26 criminal indictments with 16 convictions and 8 prison sentences. The George W. Bush administration in 8 years had 16 criminal indictments, 16 convictions with 8 defendants sentenced to prison.
Now let’s examine the other side of the aisle. In 4 years, the Carter administration had 1 indictment and 0 convictions. In 8 years, the Clinton administration had 2 indictments 1 conviction and 1 defendant sent to prison. And in 8 years, Obama had 0 criminal indictments, 0 convictions and 0 prison sentences.
This may surprise you but let me mention a few traits and policies of Nixon’s that I admired. First of all, he was very intelligent, a voracious reader and an author of five books: “Six Crises” recounting Nixon’s role in major political crossroads; “RN: The Memoirs of Richard Nixon;” “The Real War” foreign policy and the Cold War; “Leaders” world leaders Nixon dealt with at urgent times and “Real Peace” his vision for peace.
Having grown up in poverty, Nixon had empathy for the poor and advocated for universal health care. He also cared about the environment and created the EPA. Though he severely violated the Constitution, once caught he showed respect for it in ultimately handing over the tapes etc. Google “Nixon’s Farewell Address to the White House Staff,” a remarkably inspiring speech. (Which actually brought me to tears which made me furious with myself.)
Trump’s “The Art of the Deal,” not only didn’t he write it, but the real author doesn’t think he even read it. Trump’s first wife Ivana said the only book on “the Donald’s” nightstand was Hitler’s speeches.
As for talents, I admit Trump is a good golfer but he’s also a pathological cheater. Caddies who’ve seen him constantly kick his ball out of the rough when he didn’t think anyone was looking, nicknamed him “Pele” as is documented in the humorous best-selling book “Commander in Cheat.”
Jack is at: email@example.com