"Do You Read the New York Times?"

Douglas Mackinnon on Nixon: The Hollywood Version:

…Recently, here in Washington, [movie director Ron] Howard offered up a screening of [his] film [Frost/Nixon] at the headquarters of the National Geographic Society before a mostly left-leaning audience. Unfortunately for the filmmaker and those in attendance who really can’t stand Mr. Nixon or President George W. Bush, a fly in the ointment appeared in the guise of Chris Wallace from Fox News. Now, even though an independent study by Pew demonstrates that Fox News, by far, is the most balanced of the networks, all on the left loudly proclaim it to be nothing more than a tool of the Bush administration.

Understanding that hostile perception, Mr. Wallace as he himself has described in interviews could stand it no more and decided to challenge the liberal panel of Mr. Howard, screenwriter Peter Morgan, James Reston Jr., and “historian” Robert Dallek. During the question and answer session after the screening, what most set off Mr. Wallace was a pronouncement by Mr. Reston (the son of the New York Times columnist and openly Nixon hating former researcher for Frost) that the film was “a metaphor for George W. Bush.”

As he has stated, against the pleas of his wife to remain silent, Mr. Wallace asked for a microphone to refute what he believed to be a ridiculous and biased statement. “To compare George W. Bush to Richard Nixon is to trivialize Nixon’s crimes and is a disservice to Bush,” said Mr. Wallace. “Richard Nixon’s crimes were committed solely for his own political gain, whereas George W. Bush was trying to protect the American people.” Mr. Wallace then reminded the panel that Mr. Bush must have done something right after 9/11 as, over seven years later, “we are all sitting here tonight so comfortably.”

Therein lies a very important point. For much of the left, it’s imperative to their narrative that they never admit Mr. Bush has done anything right. While they have taken him to task time and again for “never admitting his mistakes,” the irony is lost on them that they can’t admit to his successes. Even those that protect them and their loved ones. As if to underline the loathing of Mr. Bush and the denial of any of his success, “Historian” Mr. Dallek predictably suggested to Mr. Wallace that while, thanks to the Watergate tapes, Mr. Nixon’s crimes were well documented, we would have to wait until such documentation on Mr. Bush emerged before his sins would become more apparent. Mr. Wallace again became frustrated that a “historian” would utter such an ignorant and biased statement and said, “You make suppositions on no facts whatsoever.” To which Mr. Dallek incredulously replied, “Do you read The New York Times?”

As one who spent three years working in a joint command in the Pentagon with a top secret clearance, and with the full knowledge that the American people — and that includes the powers that be in Hollywood — are not privy to the vast amount of information or intelligence used to protect them, I’d like to pose a very probable scenario to Messrs. Howard, Morgan, Reston, and Dallek: What if, based on up-to-the-minute intelligence contained in the President’s Daily Briefing (the PDB), President-elect Barack Obama is confronted with horrific information that the candidate Obama never saw, and decides purely in the national security interests of our nation to keep in place some of the policies of the hated Mr. Bush? What critical movie, biased historical supposition, or slanted screenplay will they offer up in criticism of Mr. Obama? For that matter, what critical movies of any presidents other than Messrs. Nixon and Bush, would the panel consider? Surely Mr. Dallek knows that unbiased history tells us that President Lyndon Johnson abused his office and power…

I would take issue with part of Wallace’s comment; I don’t buy the idea that Nixon was driven “solely for his own political gain.” While I do think that Nixon was temperamentally unsuited to hold high office, I think Nixon’s haters purposely ignore the historical context of the Watergate crimes.

Nixon’s goal when he came to office was to end the war in Vietnam without abandoning our allies and without encouraging our enemies. Many of his domestic anti-war opponents desired an American defeat in Vietnam and worked towards that end (See Bill Ayers and Bernadine Dohrn). Nixon was right to believe that these people were a significant part of the pacifist, anti-American Democratic Party that emerged in 1968 and took control in 1972.

It turned out that Nixon was right. America’s loss in Vietnam encouraged the Soviets to invade Afghanistan, and even more importantly, convinced Islamists from bin Laden to Hezbollah to Moqtada Sadr that America would abandon its allies when the going got rough.

Nixon’s tactics may have been reprehensible, but so were those of his critics.

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