Some political pundits are making connections between the tragic presidencies of Richard Milhous Nixon and George Walker Bush.
Those political wunderkinds earn their livings as purveyors of analysis-for-profit and they are now finding similarities in the corruption of the Nixon and Bush administrations — and they openly question aloud with building ferocity — why Nixon was prosecuted and why Bush takes no leave and offers no sword upon which to impale himself for his own misdeeds.
Frank Rich of the New York Times perhaps best explains the human disconnect between Nixon’s crimes and Bush’s incompetence:
Unlike Nixon, President Bush is less an overreaching
Machiavelli than an epic blunderer surrounded by Machiavellis. He lacks
the crucial element of acute self-awareness that gave Nixon his tragic
depth. Nixon came from nothing, loathed himself and was all too keenly
aware when he was up to dirty tricks. Mr. Bush has a charmed biography,
is full of himself and is far too blinded by self-righteousness to even
fleetingly recognize the havoc he’s inflicted at home and abroad.
Though historians may judge him a worse president than Nixon — some already have — at the personal level his is not a grand Shakespearean failure.
This is in part why persistent cries for impeachment
have gone nowhere in the Democratic Party hierarchy. Arguably the most
accurate gut check on what the country feels about Mr. Bush was a January Newsweek poll
finding that a sizable American majority just wished that his
“presidency was over.” This flat-lining administration inspires
contempt and dismay more than the deep-seated, long-term revulsion
whipped up by Nixon; voters just can’t wait for Mr. Bush to leave
Washington so that someone, anyone, can turn the page and start
rectifying the damage.
Yet if he lacks Nixon’s larger-than-life
villainy, he will nonetheless leave Americans feeling much the way they
did after Nixon fled: in a state of anger about the state of the
The rage is already omnipresent, and it’s bipartisan. The last New York
Times/CBS News poll found that a whopping 72 percent of Americans felt
their country was “seriously off on the wrong track,”
the highest figure since that question was first asked, in 1983.
Equally revealing (and bipartisan) is the hypertension of the parties’
two angry bases. Democrats and Republicans alike are engaged in
internecine battles that seem to be escalating in vitriol by the hour.
In our collective memories,
we yearn for logic.
We crave steps that lead us beyond mere wonderment and into conclusion.
We are required now, as moral Americans, to be overwhelmed by
corruption, while still stating a social, emotional, disgust with both
Nixon and Bush.
In that dissent against the majority rule, we are re-formed and re-born
against the national norms of the convenient present and we demand to
be warranted with the promise of a cleaner and clearer tomorrow.
Then we awaken
without singing — as we witness our elected leaders crashing into each
other over a bungled war policy — and the rest of us, the most of us,
are left to meander in our own misery,
looking to the horizon, hoping to bet on a winner, but facing the odd
reality we are still only surrounded by the corrupt and the prepaid;
while history, buffeted our repeated mistakes, laughs.