August 9, 2009 by Robert Nedelkoff | Filed Under American Politics, Frost/Nixon, John Dean At The Nixon Library, News media, Nixon Administration, Nixon Administration figures, Nixon Library, Nixon in the News, Presidents, Richard Nixon, TV News, U.S. History, Watergate
Today marks the thirty-fifth anniversary of President Nixon’s resignation, and since I wrote about coverage of this last night, some more articles and op-eds of note have appeared. Apart from the memorable discussion of RN’s achievements on this morning’s Chris Matthews Show, discussed in Jonathan Movroydis’s post below, I have not seen or read about any mention of the anniversary on TV.
Right now MSNBC, for example, is finishing yet another hour of programming about the Manson murders, since today is also the fortieth anniversary of the murder of Sharon Tate and four others, while other networks have already started running shows about Woodstock’s 40th.
(It may be that a lot of younger viewers nowadays wonder how the coverage of Charles Manson affected the coverage of Woodstock in August 1969. It didn’t, since no one, apart from the killers themselves and a few who had crossed their paths, had any idea at the time who had committed the murders. It was not until December 1 of that year that arrest warrants were issued in the Tate case, which brought Manson’s evil to light, and less than a week later the disastrous free festival at Altamont, immortalized in the documentary Gimme Shelter, continued the ominous note on which the decade finished.)
But the Nixon Administration did come up in today’s New York Times online roundtable about Woodstock’s 40th. The participants include such notables as Nixonland author Rick Perlstein, novelist Ishmael Reed, social critic Morris Dickstein, and historian Joan Hoff, author of Nixon Reconsidered. Perlstein makes no mention of RN in his contribution, but Ms. Hoff discusses at some length why she thinks that ”Woodstock had little or nothing to do with the radical-conservative change in politics” that began during the Nixon years; she thinks that the big political story of the period was the rise of neoconservatism and the role it played in the emergence of Ronald Reagan on the national scene.
At NPR’s website, Daniel Schorr, who will turn 93 at the end of this month, speaks of the resignation and how it changed American perceptions of the presidency. He concludes:
After 35 years, Nixon is enjoying a revival of interest because of Frost/Nixon, first a stage play, then a movie based on Nixon’s 1977 television interviews with David Frost, for which Nixon was paid $600,000 — triple his annual salary as president.
For that, Frost got the closest thing to an apology that Nixon ever uttered for having put America through the wringer.
“I let the American people down,” he said, “and I have to carry that burden with me for the rest of my life.”
He did let the people down. And we are still carrying the burden.
And at Truthdig.com, historian Stanley I. Kutler, author of The Wars Of Watergate, offers some thoughts about the resignation, in a gentler tone than has sometimes been the case when he’s written about the Nixon White House.
Speaking of Kutler naturally brings John W. Dean to mind, since both have frequently criticized what they claim are “revisionist” examinations of the events surrounding Watergate. For the last several months, since his appearance at the Nixon Presidential Library in Yorba Linda, Dean has shown up from time to time in scenic Southern California locales such as Mission Viejo to promote his apparently self-published reissue of his book Blind Ambition, and last night he spoke to an audience at the Hotel Zoso in Palm Springs.
(Yes, Zoso as in the alternate title of Led Zeppelin’s fourth album, the one with “Stairway To Heaven.” For Watergate students familiar to that passage in Blind Ambition in which Dean describes H.R. Haldeman informing him that the President thought he was dressing like a “hippie” because his tie was wider than usual at the White House, this has to produce a chuckle.)
The Desert Sun, Palm Springs’s newspaper, has an account of this event. It’s worth mentioning that the caption to one of the photos that accompanies the Sun’s article refers to the current edition of Blind Ambition as being a “sequel” to the original 1976 edition of the book. The truth is that, apart from a new afterword of about 100 pages, it is the same book as that published over 30 years ago. The real sequel to Blind Ambition was Dean’s 1982 book Lost Honor, which is mostly forgotten except for the chapter in which Dean argues at length that Gen. Alexander Haig was Deep Throat, a theory he later abandoned.