Monday, April 18, 2011

Nixon, Yorba Linda, And Washington

The Nixon Center, established by former President Nixon in 1994, lost that designation in March, when it announced its independence from those now running Nixon's foundation in Yorba Linda. Writing today at "The National Interest," the center's blog, veteran journalist and media think tanker Marvin Kalb reviews recent events in Yorba Linda:

Unlike most other presidents, Richard Nixon seems never able to rest in peace. Apparently, not even at the Nixon Library. Recently, a new Watergate Exhibit was opened, and predictably [Ron and Anne Walker] were outraged. According to Mrs. Walker, who was in attendance, the current Director, Timothy Naftali, in his introductory remarks, never “missed using one accusatory buzz word” after another: “abuse of power,” “dirty tricks,” “whitewash,” and “cover up.” Naftali was even asked whether Nixon was anti-semitic, and, lo and behold, noted Mrs. Walker, a “very few days later, several news stories contained newly released quotes on that very subject.” She had hoped that the new exhibit would be “fair and balanced,” (a description familiar to any Fox viewer), but “it did not come out that way”...

Ron [Walker] was head of Nixon’s advance team at the White House. Sharing his loyalist views are other former staffers, now gathered around the Nixon Foundation: Larry Higby, who was Bob Haldeman’s deputy, and Dwight Chapin, who was deputy assistant to Nixon, among others.

As I've noted at the "National Interest" site, while I strongly supported Naftali's efforts to install the new exhibit, Kalb attributed words to me elsewhere in his post that were written by historian Robert KC Johnson.

Kalb concludes:
Rather than think about the Nixon Library as a weapon in a political war, the Walkers might try to let Nixon be Nixon, blemishes and all, and then have faith in the library visitor to reach a “fair and balanced” judgment of Richard Nixon’s place in American history.
Kalb says that 37's greatest victories were in foreign policy. Not only did Nixon agree, he hoped the work would continue. With the support of Henry Kissinger and other high-ranking associates, he founded the Nixon Center to apply his principles of enlightened pragmatism to the challenges the United States faced in the post-Cold War world. It's hard to be sure what he would've thought about the Watergate exhibit in Yorba Linda. But there's no doubt he'd be deeply disappointed that his living legacy has lost its toehold in Washington.

1 comment:

Mr. Dobolena said...

"Enlightened pragmatism." Pretty amazing concept and totally lost in today's geo-political discourse. Would that we had more adults in positions of responsibility. Although I've found adulthood not to be that much fun after all.