Saturday, March 5, 2011

No President Is A Hero To His Archivist

Reflecting on the idolatry that is evidently prevalent at the taxpayer-supported Reagan library, historian Maarja Krusten, who spent years listening to Richard Nixon's secret tapes for the National Archives, suggests that a lot of knowledge can be a discouraging thing:
[S]omeone who has listened to thousands of hours of a president’s national security classified and personal conversations, as I have, never will hero worship a president of either party.

1 comment:

J.C. Marrero said...

Very insightful piece, indeed. As one prone to hero worship, I have finally come to see that no politician, save Lincoln, perhaps, plausibly would remain a "hero to his valet".

Problem is that popular culture insists that prominent men and women be remembered as all, or nearly all, good or bad. Reagan and JFK are nearly worshipped while Nixon is demonized.

I remain pro-Nixon as an act of (irrelevant) defiance. It is not fair that he should be so stereotyped, while other presidents be forgiven for much worse. In my mind, Nixon was more ethical than Jackson (Trail of Tears); Fillmore (No Nothing Party); Hayes (End of Reconstruction); TR (imperialism run amok); Wilson (frightful rascist policies even by the standards of the time) and FDR (Japanese internment). Yet some of these men were great presidents still. They have been put on the good side of the ledger, using a standard not applied to Nixon.