Richard Milhaus Nixon is one of the most tragic figures in American history.
The malicious Left has never been willing to regard our 37th president as anything other than Satan incarnate, and its vitriol against him (not always, I will grant, undeserved) has been a constant ever since his 1950 California Senate race against Helen Gahagan Douglas. To hear the Left tell it, Nixon had no virtues whatsoever.
But history tells another tale. Whatever one might think of Nixon, were it not for Watergate, his accomplishments in the areas of both foreign and domestic policy were such that he would inevitably have been remembered otherwise at the very least as a near-great president. Thus, he's a classic example of the tragic hero as the Greeks saw him: a man who stood on the pinnacle of greatness, only to be undone by a fatal flaw.
Lyndon Johnson is a similar character. In Nixon's case, the flaw was paranoia, leading both to the Watergate affair and to the rest of what he termed (to paraphrase his rather own rather pungent term) his rodent fornication operations; in Johnson's, an inability to admit that he was wrong about the character of the conflict in Southeast Asia, and react- well, as Nixon did.
If there is one thing which remains pre-eminent in our memories of Dick Nixon, it's not detente with the Soviet Union, or the opening of China, or the effective reversal of our policy in Vietnam, or welfare reform, or the establishment of the Environmental Protection Agency, or any of the other achievements which, if "progressives" could but put their personal malice aside, would qualify him as one of the most successful modern presidents even by Democratic standards. It's the "enemies list-" a paranoid assemblage of names belonging to people who had tried to do Dick Nixon in.
With the exception of Watergate, he doesn't seem to have actually done much with that list. That's where he and Barack Obama differ.
I've often blogged of late of the tendency of "liberals" to attempt to silence dissent from their policies by intimidation. Sometimes it means the denial of tenure (or employment) to a professor whose personal politics do not pass orthodox muster. Sometimes it means denying a license to open a restaurant in Chicago because Dan Cathy disagreed with Mayor Emanuel about gay "marriage." And sometimes it means Barack Obama's favorite tactic: phony-baloney legal action, whether involving trumped-up criminal charges, lawsuits, or simply the abuse of the administrative powers of institutions like the IRS.
If there is a pattern in Obama's career more prominent than his tendency to lie even when he doesn't really have to (as in the case of that uncle he denied, for no particular reason, having ever met, despite having lived with him for a time) or when it makes his situation more complicated rather than less so (his defense against criticism of his killing as a state senate committee chair of the would- be Illinois Born Alive Act was to say that he would have supported it had it contained language similar to that of a subsequent Federal bill safeguarding rights guaranteed by Roe v. Wade- which is odd, since it's subsequently come out that before killing the Illinois bill in committee he and his fellow Democrats had amended it to include even stronger language to that effect than the Federal bill, and then killed it anyway), it's his tendency to use legal intimidation as a tactic against his opponents and their supporters, whether those opponents were named are Hillary Clinton or John Edwards or Mitt Romney.
This, of course, was before he had the IRS and the Department of Justice to do his intimidating for him- an abuse of power that has not only become characteristic of this administration, but is becoming more and more common every day.
As Obama campaign counsel Bob Bauer said when filing suit against Clinton supporters in 2008, "There’s going to be a reckoning here. It’s going to be rough — it’s going to be rough on the officers, it’s going to be rough on the employees, it’s going to be rough on the donors."
Oppose Obama in such a way as to cause him serious inconvenience, and there will be a Reckoning. You will not merely be put on a list.
What Nixon had paranoid fantasies about doing, Barack Obama actually is doing. Paul Mirengoff comments on the parallels here.
But of course, it's only despicable- or worthy of comment- when a Republican does it.