Today marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of Richard Milhous Nixon and with it comes a fresh flurry of Nixonia. (A brief sampler here, here, here and here and here) Among the more interesting current takes on our still deeply polarizing 37th President–
Over at Fox News, Douglas Schoen gives us Nixon the pro-big government, pro-public spending, and pro-social safety net liberal.
Nixon was not only a fervent supporter of the Clean Air Act, the first federal law designed to control air pollution on the national level; he also gave us the Environmental Protection Agency. The creation of the EPA represented an expansion of government that would face fierce opposition were it being debated today. The EPA is also one of the agencies on Capitol Hill that the business community most detests—along with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, which polices working conditions. OSHA is another Nixon creation.
In The Atlantic, John Aloysius Farrell offers us Nixon, the Tragic Everyman:
His rise and fall are, literally, operatic. His flaws repel as they fascinate. He inspired devoted loyalty and un-chambered hate – at times, or over time, from the same individual. In his multi-faceted character we see flickers of the demagogue Willie Stark, the salesman Willy Loman, the raging Ahab, the wily Burr, the paranoid Captain Queeg.
The campaign pamphlet from the 1946 election had it right: Richard M. Nixon is One of Us.
U.S. News reminds us of Richard Nixon, Bowler in Chief:
Nixon was responsible for the creation of the bowling alley in the White House basement. According to Jonathan Roscoe of the Nixon Library, a box of his old bowling scores from Oct. 18, 1969, were recently discovered. That particular day, the president rolled six games against his friend and confidant Charles Gregory “Bebe” Rebozo while vacationing at Camp David, finishing with scores of 160, 177, 114, 134, 153, and 115. Naval Aide Adm. Charles R. Larson sent Nixon’s secretary a memo with the bowling scores attached three days later.
But for many on the Left, Hunter S. Thompson’s 1994 obituary of Nixon still holds true:
Nixon had the unique ability to make his enemies seem honorable, and we developed a keen sense of fraternity. Some of my best friends have hated Nixon all their lives. My mother hates Nixon, my son hates Nixon, I hate Nixon, and this hatred has brought us together.
Nixon laughed when I told him this. “Don’t worry,” he said, “I, too, am a family man, and we feel the same way about you.”