Nixon v. Reagan

This article was written well ahead of scheduled publishing in order to accommodate my travel plans.

Don’t let the title confuse you, this is not a Supreme Court case but rather an argument that could be had among those wondering when America started to go to Hades (PG rating) politically.

I’ve spent most of my adult life tracing bad things back to Ronald Reagan. I even have a bunch of notes for a book that will probably never be written, let alone published, based on the theory that everything bad in today’s American can be traced back to him and/or his administration. That might be a bit harsh but I assure you it is not far off the mark.

Many others would put the genesis at Richard Nixon which has merit and I want to touch on that today. The other popular jumping off point is Newt Gingrich but he ended up being a failure, that gives him too much credit for the damage he did do and without the other two Gingrich, or at least him in power, would have been very unlikely.

The constraints of time and space prevent me from getting into everything Reagan did to harm Americans; I already said I had much of the material for a book. For today, just let me say that if it were not for the bad taste the country had for impeachment after Nixon, Reagan would have been impeached if not incarcerated.

I admit that I am influenced by what I read and I just finished the late Hunter S. Thompson’s, Fear and Loathing in America, which, although published in 2000, covers much of American politics from only 1968 through 1976. Thompson’s “Satan” was Nixon (with more than a touch of Spiro Agnew along with a few others).

Donald Trump, while not an “independent political entity” in the American presidency, would never have been possible without the likes of Nixon and Reagan. They set the stage for the thinking that the president can get away with anything. Without Reagan you would never have Clarence Thomas on the Supreme Court. Thomas was nominated by George H. W. Bush who was Reagan’s vice president and claims to have known nothing of Reagan’s willful and arrogant violations of the law but rode Reagan’s coattails into the Oval Office. (He also enabled George W. Bush. See the descending pattern?)

Perhaps the lesson is simply not to elect Republican presidents. For my money the last good one was Dwight Eisenhower and he left office before I measured my age in double digits. The last (and only second) great one was Theodore Roosevelt who left office in 1909. (Remember, Roosevelt was somewhat of an accidental president initially taking office via the assassination of William McKinley.)

Getting back to Nixon v Reagan – I’m rambling like Thompson today, minus the colorful language – there is a definite case to be made for Nixon. Without Nixon there is a good chance that Democrat Jimmy Carter would never have been elected. Even a hapless Gerald Ford might well have beat him if not for the political “ghost” of Nixon. Though perhaps the finest person ever to occupy the Oval Office, Carter was ineffective. In 1980 the country was ready for a change and Reagan was in the right place at the right time.

Well, I didn’t resolve the argument for you nor did I really intend to. I did give you something to ponder though!

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