Saturday, March 25, 2006

Richard Nixon

Just finished watching the film 'Nixon' starrring Anthony Hopkins. Richard Nixon has to rate as one of the most diverse and complex characters ever to be president. While he was the comeback kid after losing the presidential race against Kennedy in 1960 and going on to lose the Califonia Governor race in 1962, he came crashing back to win in 1968 at the height of the Vietnam War and the so called 'liberal era'. At the time the US was undergoing huge social upheaval, race riots and the shooting of Martin Luther King, student unrest, economic difficulties and of course Vietnam which tore the country apart. Nixon saw himself as the unifer, he was no such thing but he liked to portray himself as one.

After taking office, far from scaling down the war in Vietnam, it saw carpet bombing being carried out on a systematic basis and a death toll that continued to rise. While he did eventually with Kissinger obtain a ceasefire the war was efffectively lost and the US had been humilated in one of it's most devasting conflicts. Seeing for myself the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington two years ago and death toll of 65,000 really brought it home the impact it had on the USA.

On the more positive side, he did establish relations with China and bearing in mind his anti communist background this was no mean feat and something a Democrat could not have pulled off at the time. He also established a detente with Brezhnev and the Soviets which helf for most of the seventies until Afghanistan and Ronald Reagan coming to power.

The paronia in his chracter over the Watergate incident and the subsequent cover up finished him off and it is what many will remember him for.

While he was no way the best Republican president, compared to what followed Reagan and Bush I and II, he was streets ahead of them and did have some tangible achievements even if politically it would be to the opposite of me. He was also the only recent president who did rise from poverty and is a living embodiment of 'the American dream' in the way he rose through the system.

A film worth watching, now I wonder will a film ever be made about George W Bush life story and achievements, somehow I doubt it.


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