On the occasion of this week's 40th anniversary of Richard Nixon's resignation from the presidency, The Washington Post sponsored a reunion featuring Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, the Watergate reporters who "brought down" the 37th president.
In fact, Nixon committed political suicide. He thought he could get away with what other politicians had done, but forgot the rules are different for Republicans.
The Post event resembled a celebration with much laughter and stories about how Publisher Katharine Graham and Executive Editor Ben Bradlee had told the newsroom "no gloating" when it became apparent Nixon would resign. But gloat they did for years to come.
The story of how Lyndon Johnson “stole” the 1948 Senate election away from Coke Stevenson, allegedly by use of voter fraud, which, The New York Times writes, allowed him to overcome "...a 20,000-vote deficit to achieve his famous 87-vote victory," is chronicled in Robert A. Caro's book "Means of Ascent," a multi-volume biography of the 36th president. It is also no secret how Kennedy money and, according to journalist Seymour M. Hersh in his book "The Dark Side of Camelot," a little mafia influence delivered the 1960 presidential election to John F. Kennedy.
These men were Democrats and though Johnson's legacy is tarnished by his escalation of the Vietnam War, he deservedly earns plaudits today for his work on civil rights legislation.
Nixon was different. While Kennedy expertly schmoozed the press and Johnson was a master manipulator and arm-twister, Nixon brooded about slights and injustices he felt had been done to him.
When Pat Nixon died in 1993, I wrote a column about her. I had met her on a few occasions and said she did not fit the "plastic Pat" label assigned to her by critics. I noted she didn't like politics, but endured it for the sake of her husband, preferring instead to stay out of the limelight.
Nixon wrote and thanked me, but then launched into a diatribe about the media and how they never understood her and by implication him.
Cal Thomas is co-author (with Bob Beckel) of the book, "Common Ground: How to Stop the Partisan War That is Destroying America".
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