Pat Buchanan

Editor's note: The following is from a speech given by Patrick J. Buchanan during the Richard M. Nixon Centennial celebration in Washington, D.C., on January 9, 2013.

We are here tonight to celebrate the centennial of a statesman, a profile in courage and an extraordinary man we are all proud to have served: the 37th president of the United States, Richard Milhous Nixon.

Years ago, Meg Greenfield of The Washington Post wrote that she belonged to what she called "the Nixon generation."

"What distinguishes us as a group," she said, is that "we are too young to remember a time when Richard Nixon was not on the political scene, and too old reasonably to expect that we shall see one." Greenfield was distressed about this.

Yet her thesis rings true. We are the Nixon Generation. We were born into and lived through what Bole Dole called "the Age of Nixon."

And what a time it was -- and what a man he was.

Home from the war in 1946, Richard Nixon was elected to the 80th Congress and swiftly became its most famous member. For he would exhibit early on an attribute that would mark his whole life: perseverance.

Because he believed a disheveled ex-communist named Whittaker Chambers, and because he distrusted an establishment icon, Alger Hiss, Rep. Nixon persevered to expose the wartime treason of Hiss.

By 1948, he was an American hero, so popular the Democratic Party did not field a candidate against him. In 1950, he captured a Senate seat with the largest majority in the history of California.

Yet the same people who just loved Harry Truman's "Give 'Em Hell" campaign of 1948 whined that Nixon played too rough.

In the Taft-Eisenhower battle of 1952, an internationalist, the Boss stood with Ike and, at 39, was the vice presidential nominee -- and a man of destiny.

Then it was that the establishment first moved to bring him down. They hyped a phony story about a political fund, alleged it was for Sen. Nixon's personal benefit, and instigated a hue and cry for Gen. Eisenhower to drop him from the ticket.

Nixon's decision to defend his record and integrity in the "Checkers" speech, though mocked by his enemies, remains the most brilliant use of television by a political figure in the 20th century.

In the 1950s, he redefined the vice presidency as a force in foreign policy, braved a lynch mob in Caracas, became the first vice president to travel behind the Iron Curtain and confronted Nikita Khrushchev's bluster in the "Kitchen Debate."

By 1960, he had no serious challenger for the nomination.

Pat Buchanan

Pat Buchanan is a founding editor of The American Conservative magazine, and the author of many books including State of Emergency: The Third World Invasion and Conquest of America .
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