(The audio version of this essay can be found here.)
Allow me to tell you the story of a man who became President of the United States. This man was considered by many to be a political outsider, and he ran on a platform of ending foreign wars and reigning in an out-of-control federal bureaucracy. This President had a very contentious relationship with the media – in fact, they despised him, and used any excuse to attack him. The deep state bureaucracy fought him, the media slandered him, and the Democratic Party sought his impeachment. Leftist demonstrators rioted at the very mention of his name. In the end, they destroyed him, and his plans to drain the swamp were left unfinished.
The man of whom I am speaking is Richard Milhouse Nixon.
For most Americans of this generation, knowledge of President Richard Nixon begins and ends with Watergate. Most people know that he resigned in disgrace and assume that he must have been an especially bad man, and bad president, in order to do so. Yet a look at the presidency of Richard Nixon shows a series of remarkable victories and achievements in the face of some of the harshest opposition in American history. As I studied the man and his life, I began to wonder how history will treat another DC establishment iconoclast, President Donald Trump. As he left the White House for the last time as President, Nixon’s closest friend and confidant Henry Kissinger remarked that history would judge Nixon as one of the great Presidents, despite the scandal. Nixon replied, “That depends, Henry, on who writes the history.” Today I would like to write some history of a man who served as President, who fought the good fight against the Deep State, and who should remain an inspiration to patriotic Americans for ages to come, no matter what slant our history books put on him. Pay close attention and hear how the Nixon Administration compares with the now-completed Trump Administration. Pay attention to the tactics the Deep State used to destroy the former, and how they used the same tactics against the latter as well.
Unless otherwise noted, all quotations in this essay are from President Nixon’s memoirs.
Richard Nixon was not born into a rich and powerful family like his erstwhile friend and rival John F. Kennedy. The Nixons were a relatively poor Quaker family in California, before that state was known for wealth and glamor. Nixon’s father worked many jobs, including lemon farmer, rancher, and grocer. What savings the family had was depleted as two of Nixon’s brothers fought long and losing battles against tuberculosis. After high school, Nixon turned down a scholarship to Harvard and enrolled instead at nearby Whittier College so he could still help the family. After graduating at the top of his class with a degree in history, Nixon went to the East Coast to study law at Duke University. He worked his way through school, sharing a cramped dorm cabin that lacked running water.
Nixon returned home to practice law in California and married Thelma Ryan, who went by Pat, in 1940. The following year the couple went to Washington DC where Richard worked in the Office of Price Administration. Both his government service and Quaker background ensured that he need not worry about being drafted into the military after Pearl Harbor, nevertheless Nixon sought and received a naval commission and was eventually assigned to sea duty in the Pacific.
Richard Nixon served honorably for several years, working mostly in logistics. After his retirement from the Naval Reserve in 1946 he once more returned home to California, this time to begin his political career. The ambitious young man was a skilled debater and campaigner. He defeated the Democratic incumbent in California’s 12th congressional district and returned to Washington in 1947 as a freshman Congressman. Fittingly, another World War II naval veteran joining the House of Representatives that year was none other than John Kennedy of Massachusetts.
Nixon quickly gained influence in the political world. He was the youngest member of the Herter Committee, which traveled to Europe in 1947 and recommended that President Truman implement the Marshall Plan to save Europe from both starvation and Communism. Nixon also distinguished himself on the House Un-American Activities Committee with his dogged investigation of Alger Hiss, a university professor who lied about his past associations with Communist groups in America. In just two terms in Congress, Nixon had gained enough renown to not only win a Senate seat in 1950, but also to be placed on the Republican presidential ticket in 1952 as General Dwight Eisenhower’s running mate.
Nixon faced the greatest test of his young career late in the 1952 campaign. After winning his Senate race, Nixon faced the challenge of paying for his constant travel and communication with supporters. Rather than try to pay for it from public funds, Nixon put together a committee to manage a donor fund, taking care not to allow any appearance of quid pro quo. However, the media, already irritated with Nixon for his strong anti-communist views, used it as a vehicle to attack him, demanding that Eisenhower boot him from the ticket. Ike’s advisors would have preferred that Nixon quietly withdraw, but he instead went on live television – still a very new medium – and gave a detailed account of his finances, successfully defending himself against accusations of quid pro quo or a personal slush fund. Nixon explained that the only personal gift he had received from his supporters was a dog named Checkers, already beloved by his two daughters. Public reaction to the “Checkers speech” was overwhelmingly positive. Eisenhower kept Nixon on the ticket, and they won a resounding victory in November.
At just forty years of age, Richard Nixon was one of the youngest Vice Presidents in American history. President Eisenhower utilized Nixon much more than previous administrations, sending him around the world on diplomatic missions. When Eisenhower suffered a heart attack in 1955, Nixon informally took on the duties of President. The 25th Amendment had not yet been passed, so there was no clear direction as to how much a Vice President should take over when a President became incapacitated. Richard Nixon walked a fine line between doing what was necessary to ensure the smooth operation of the executive branch of the government while not appearing to be overly ambitious as Eisenhower recovered. The two men drafted a memorandum defining his role, which later served as the basis for the 25th Amendment to the Constitution.
In 1958, Richard and Pat Nixon visited South America, where their motorcade was attacked by violent mobs in Peru and in Venezuela. Nixon was convinced that the mob violence was engineered by radical Communists. He later said, “The only way to deal with Communists is to stand up to them. Otherwise, they will exploit your politeness as weakness. They will try to make you afraid and then take advantage of your fears. Fear is the primary weapon of Communists.” Later, recalling the violent riots in South America, he said that “…the greatest danger a non-Communist nation faced was from a handful of activists and infiltrators who could impose their will on the whole society.” Anyone who paid attention to the summer of hate in 2020 will recognize that left-wing tactics have not changed.
Richard Nixon minced no words when talking about the threat of international Communism. Today, that threat has cloaked itself under different names such as antifa, Black Lives Matter, racial solidarity, environmentalism, feminism, and more. Yet their purpose remains the same: to dismantle Western Civilization in favor of their Marxist-Leninist utopia. In his memoirs, Nixon quotes John Foster Dulles, who served as President Eisenhower’s Secretary of State, saying, “Communism is stubborn for the wrong; let us be steadfast for the right. A capacity to change is indispensable. Equally indispensable is the capacity to hold fast to that which is good.” No matter what names they call themselves, the forces that seek to destroy our civilization must be opposed. We cannot give an inch to those who want to erase our history and steal our posterity.
In 1959, Vice President Nixon traveled to Moscow on a goodwill visit. Premier Nikita Khrushchev took Nixon on a tour of an exhibition showing the Russian people what life was like in America. By the time they arrived at the model kitchen, their friendly discussion had turned into a somewhat heated debate about the merits of capitalist free markets versus Communist central planning. At one point, Khrushchev predicted that Nixon’s children would someday live under Communism, to which Nixon retorted that Khrushchev’s grandchildren would live in freedom. In hindsight, perhaps both men were correct. Russia threw off Marxism-Leninism in 1991, and, though still autocratic, now have much more freedom than they did sixty years ago. America, on the other hand, is quickly embracing the same failed socialist philosophies that the people of Russia, Cuba, and Venezuela once came to here to flee.
Richard Nixon’s extensive foreign policy experience made him the natural choice to succeed President Eisenhower in 1960. He had the support of a united Republican Party, while the Democrats soon coalesced around Senator John F. Kennedy of Massachusetts. There were many similarities between the two men: both had come to Congress in 1947, both served in the Navy in World War II, and both represented the torch being passed to a new generation. However, the media clearly had a favorite dog in this fight. In his memoirs, Nixon describes “…the way so many reporters in 1960 became caught up in the excitement of Kennedy’s campaign and infected with his personal sense of mission.” This sounds familiar to anyone who has watched the way the press has covered Democratic politicians in the last half century. Remember Chris Matthews of MSNBC exclaiming that Barack Obama’s speech sent a “thrill” up his leg?
We like to think that our press reports the news objectively and allows the American people to decide how to interpret it, but that is obviously not the case. It is not true now, and it was not true in 1960 either. While journalists ask their favored politicians such as Obama the sorts of questions that teenage fangirls ask their boy band crushes, they treat Republicans with disdain. No matter how many times Donald Trump repudiated so-called white nationalists, white supremacists, or the KKK, journalists demanded he do it again. If he did not respond on cue, they published hysterical headlines about how he had yet again refused to disavow racism and hate. This tactic is not new. Richard Nixon received the same treatment, remarking once that “Reporters never tired of asking if I had repudiated the John Birch Society.”
With Joe Biden now in the White House, our supposedly objective press has gone into overdrive in their hagiography of the new administration. Slavish devotion on the part of our media was bad enough during the Obama years, but they now go out of their way to be as positive toward Biden as they were negative toward Trump. Journalists tend to see themselves as partners with Democratic politicians in their aim of changing the world, while Republican politicians are their enemies. At least today we have alternative channels of information, although they are quickly being censored by Big Tech. In 1960, there were no alternative channels – the big three TV networks told you the news the way it was. The media presented JFK as the golden boy, while Nixon, despite being of similar age and with more executive experience, was portrayed as stodgy and old-fashioned.
The famous TV debate between Richard Nixon and John Kennedy perfectly illustrates this point. According to some historians, radio listeners believed that Nixon had easily won the debate, while television viewers, who saw the photogenic Kennedy matched up against the recently ill Nixon, thought that JFK had won. The advent of television was the beginning of the end for well-spoken statesmen who were masters of rhetoric. Their kind would soon be eclipsed by good looking men skilled in the art of pithy one-liners and viral slogans. Image is everything now. It is no surprise that America has not elected a bald president since Dwight Eisenhower. The media anointed John Kennedy as the torchbearer of the new generation, and they have continued writing the history ever since. Nixon himself did not believe that televised debates were good for the political process. He wrote, “I doubt that they can ever serve a responsible role in defining the issues of a presidential campaign. Because of the nature of the medium, there will inevitably be a greater premium on showmanship than on statesmanship.” In the 1968 campaign, Nixon pointedly refused to debate his opponent on TV.
In any case, the election of 1960 was incredibly close. Kennedy won by razor-thin margins in both Texas and Illinois, and many at the time believed that there were shenanigans afoot in both states. Richard Nixon declined to challenge the results, believing that he could better serve his country by gracefully conceding than by engaging in a long challenge. We will probably never know the real truth of the election. Nixon’s concession did nothing to improve his image with the media, however. They still hated him, and when he ran for governor of California, they continued to attack him mercilessly.
Many on the left and right suggested that President Trump should have gracefully conceded in 2020, despite the obvious evidence of fraud and other election malfeasance. However, the example of Richard Nixon shows that he would have been damned if he did, and damned if he did not. Nixon chose to concede, while Trump chose to fight, yet both were savagely attacked by our media. If anything, Trump learned the lesson of 1960 that he might as well fight since they would destroy his reputation either way.
After losing the California governor’s race in 1962, Nixon told the press they would not have him to kick around anymore. He returned to private life after a decade and a half in politics, and it seemed that his story was over. F. Scott Fitzgerald once said that there are no second acts in American life, but that often proves not to be the case. Donald Trump has had at least three acts – developer and tabloid staple in the 80s and 90s, reality TV host in the aughts, and then President of the United States after that. So it was with Richard Nixon. For many people, a biography consisting of a high-profile time in Congress, two terms as Vice President, and then a close and contested presidential campaign would have been enough to call it a day and ride off into the sunset. As much as his wife might have wished for a quiet retirement, Nixon could not sit back and watch his country fall to pieces.
After sitting out the disastrous Republican presidential campaign of 1964, Nixon returned to politics in the midst of one of the most eventful years in American history. 1968 saw the escalation of the Vietnam War with the Tet Offensive, the assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr. and Senator Robert Kennedy, race riots, and the violent protests at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago. The situation had gotten so bad that incumbent President Lyndon Johnson declined to run for reelection despite having won a massive landslide just four years earlier. While the Democratic Party was in disarray, Nixon quickly emerged as the consensus Republican nominee. “Nixon’s the One” was the rallying cry.
The 1968 presidential campaign was tumultuous. While the Democrats bore much of the ire of the antiwar protests, Nixon was not spared their vile rhetoric and dangerous threats. He saw a connection between the American protestors and the violent thugs who attacked him in South America just a few years before. “These were anarchistic mobs. As soon as the speeches began, they would start shouting, chanting simplistic and often obscene slogans, less to be heard themselves than to prevent the speaker from being heard. It was not an exercise in debate but a descent into hate.” As we have seen in the last few years, the tactics of socialists, communists, and anti-American activists have not changed. The same breed of angry communists that shouted down Richard Nixon also shouted down Ann Coulter and Milo Yiannapoulos on college campuses throughout the 2010s. They demanded free speech in the 1960s as a tactic to gain power, but now that they control our culture, they are quite happy to shut down our freedom of speech because it is a threat to their hegemony.
The 1960s taught the left that they could accomplish more social change in the streets than in the halls of Congress. The elder statesmen of the modern left are the very street thugs who committed violence and even murder in the name of their ideals back then. Bill Ayers, who set bombs in the 1960s, later became a respected college professor and even sponsored Barack Obama’s political career. Angela Davis was an accessory to the assassination of a judge, but now draws adoring crowds in college classrooms and is treated like a religious saint by the extreme left. Today, leftist politicians respond to leftist violence by agreeing with their aims and demanding social and political change. Senator Kamala Harris raised money to bail out rioters in the summer of 2020, and Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez praised their kinetic action. Even Republicans gave in – Senator Tim Scott introduced a bill to reform the supposedly racist police force in the wake of the George Floyd riots. Richard Nixon, on the other hand, understood the danger of allowing street thugs to direct our national conversation. “If a President—any President—allowed his course to be set by those who demonstrate, he would betray the trust of all the rest. Whatever the issue, to allow government policy to be made in the streets would destroy the democratic process. It would give the decision, not to the majority, and not to those with the strongest arguments, but to those with the loudest voices.”
Nixon was indeed the one in 1968, though the election ended up closer than it had seemed during the summer. He had campaigned on peace abroad and law and order at home, but soon found reigning in the federal bureaucracy to be almost as difficult as achieving peace in Vietnam. The federal government had been massively expanded by FDR’s New Deal and LBJ’s Great Society, and nearly all these executive employees were hardcore progressives. They did their best to stymie Nixon’s domestic policies and his desire to reform the bureaucracy. Like Donald Trump, Nixon found the business of governing a lot more difficult than simply giving orders and seeing them carried out.
Unlike Donald Trump, who was a true outsider to DC politics, Richard Nixon had been in government for more than two decades by the time he took the oath of office in 1969. However, he saw himself as an outsider of sorts:
“I won the 1968 election as a Washington insider, but with an outsider’s prejudices. The behind-the-scenes power structure in Washington is often called the “iron triangle”: a three-sided set of relationships composed of congressional lobbyists, congressional committee and subcommittee members and their staffs, and the bureaucrats in the various federal departments and agencies. These people tend to work with each other year after year regardless of changes in administrations; they form personal and professional associations and generally act in concert. I felt that one of the reasons I had been elected was my promise to break the hammerlock Washington holds over the money and decisions that affect American lives. I wanted to break open the iron triangle and start turning money and power back to the states and cities, and I wanted to throw the red tape out the window. But Washington is a city run primarily by Democrats and liberals, dominated by like-minded newspapers and other media, convinced of its superiority to other cities and other points of view; from the beginning I knew my chances of succeeding with the kinds of domestic reforms I had in mind were slim.”
What President Nixon described here is the Deep State, though not in those exact terms. It is the permanent bureaucracy that remains entrenched in Washington DC no matter who we elect as President or send to Congress. These bureaucrats think that they, not our elected officials, actually run our government. Nixon grew frustrated with his inability to expel the hardcore leftists in the bureaucracy: “If we don’t get rid of those people, they will either sabotage us from within, or they’ll just sit back on their well-paid asses and wait for the next election to bring back their old bosses.”
President Trump also came into office with plans to wrest control of our country from the permanent bureaucracy. In his Inaugural Address, he said, “What truly matters is not which party controls our government, but whether our government is controlled by the people. January 20th, 2017, will be remembered as the day the people became the rulers of this nation again. The forgotten men and women of our country will be forgotten no longer.” Once in the White House, however, Trump found it difficult to fight the Deep State, especially once the leadership of his own party refused to back him up. The GOP establishment had grown comfortable with the way things were, and did not take kindly to an outsider who wanted to shake things up.
Richard Nixon also grew impatient with how even Republican leaders did not take the problem of the Deep State seriously:
“Week after week I watched and listened while even the Cabinet members who had been in politics long enough to know better justified retaining Democrats in important positions in their departments for reasons of “morale” or in order to avoid controversy or unfavorable publicity. Looking back, I think that Eisenhower, because of his many years of experience with the Army, understood that the combination of human nature and the inertia of institutions will generally override even the most determined attempts to change them. Once the opportunity had passed, it was too late to correct this failure during my first term. I could only console myself with the determination that, if I were re-elected in 1972, I would not make the same mistake of leaving the initiative to individual Cabinet members.”
Donald Trump also saw too late that he had failed to do what was necessary to drain the swamp. After four years of leaks, insubordination, and dishonesty from his own Executive Branch staff, Trump planned to crack down harder in his second term, but it was not to be. The Deep State struck back hard, and stole the White House from this outsider that threatened their power.
It is difficult to run a government, much less reform it, when your own staffers are loyal to the other side. Imagine trying to fight a war when every enlisted man is fighting for the enemy. Both Nixon and Trump faced the issue of trying to control anonymous leaks from within the bureaucracy. Congressional and executive staffers were constantly leaking information to the press, in a selective manner that was meant to paint their side in a good light while attacking their opponents. LBJ had warned Nixon that this would happen. “The leaks began almost with the start of my administration, and before long I experienced firsthand the anger, worry, and frustration that Johnson had described. In the first five months of my presidency, at least twenty-one major stories based on leaks from materials in the NSC files appeared in New York and Washington newspapers.”
Leftist media will promote some leakers while condemning others, depending on who the leaks are intended to harm. Daniel Ellsburg, who published leaked files regarding the Vietnam War, has been portrayed as a saint by the press and Hollywood for fifty years. When Julian Assange of Wikileaks published information that embarrassed the Bush Administration’s prosecution of the Iraq War, the press similarly lionized him, but when he published stolen emails from the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign, they turned on him, accusing him of being a Russian stooge, and celebrating his imprisonment without bail.
Nixon had worried that allowing Ellsburg to get away with publishing the so-called Pentagon Papers would be a green light to “every disgruntled bureaucrat in the government that he could leak anything he pleased while the government stood by.” The moment Donald Trump came into office in 2017, the members of the permanent bureaucracy began selective leaks intended to damage his ability to lead.
Not a month into the Trump Administration, anonymous leaks accused incoming National Security Advisor General Michael Flynn of lying about his contact with the Russian ambassador. A few months later, someone leaked that President Trump had used vulgar slang to refer to African nations in an off-the-record conversation. Newspapers later published leaked information about alleged collusion between President Trump and Russia, and FBI Director James Comey later admitted that he himself had leaked this in order to create demand for a Special Prosecutor – an endeavor in which he was successful.
The purpose of these leaks was to damage the Trump Administration as much as possible – both to sully its reputation in the eyes of the media and the American people, and to create the impression that Trump and his cabinet were engaged in criminal dishonesty.
President Nixon thought he could plug the leaks before they crippled his administration. He hired a team of young hotshot lawyers, including G. Gordon Liddy, to use clandestine methods to determine who was leaking secrets to the press. Many of these so-called “Plumbers” would end up indicted over the Watergate affair. In his memoirs, Nixon says that he authorized wiretaps on suspected leakers after being told by longtime FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover that this was standard procedure under the Johnson Administration. LBJ’s staffers later denied engaging in any such operations during their time in power, but I assume that every presidential administration bends the rules as much as possible. The lesson of Watergate was not that Nixon was an especially criminal president, but that the Deep State took a minor matter that was not vastly different from past administrations to destroy one that they despised.
One of biggest the reasons that the left hated Nixon was because he spoke plainly regarding their motives. Too many Republicans pretend that the disagreements between right and left are minor, and that most Democrats are good people operating in good faith. Nixon knew this was not the case:
“The extremists on the right of the Goldwater type would rather lose fighting for principle than to win by compromising principle. The extremists on the left, on the other hand, have usually shown that when the chips are down they will compromise principle in order to get power. This is why the communists usually beat the right-wingers, because the right-wingers are always fighting for principle, and the communists are willing to compromise principle until they get into power and then they, of course, crush out their opposition.”
The highest principle of the left is power. They will say anything, do anything, and even be anything to anyone in order to gain the power they seek. As the counterculture in the 1960s, the left demanded free speech and a seat at the table. Now that they have won the culture war, they reject the principles of freedom of speech and equal access to power. They have no problem censoring us and marginalizing us. Calling them hypocrites does no good because they do not care. They hold us to our own standards despite holding themselves to none. If conservatives are ever to win the battle of conserving our culture, they will need to stop pretending that the left acts in good faith. Nixon recognized this, perhaps too late, and Trump underestimated the willingness of the left to destroy the legitimacy of the government in order to oust him from power.
My friend Raheem Kassam of the National Pulse recently pointed out that despite screaming for four years about how the Trump Administration was breaking norms and precedents, they have been silent through two months of a regime that is anything but normal. Joe Biden is an obvious figurehead, completely removed from press access as well as the actual levers of power. As of this writing, he has yet to address Congress as most newly inaugurated presidents do. He finally gave a so-called press conference, more than two months into his term, and even that was a carefully choreographed affair with only the most pliable of media figures present. Our media assisted with a massive coup, one that involved misinformation, illegally changing voting procedures, and outright censorship, in order to get their party into office. Now they are covering the new regime with more slavish devotion than we ever saw with the Russian Pravda. This is the heart of left-wing political action – power at all costs.
Richard Nixon threatened that power. He had won a close election in 1968, but like Donald Trump at the beginning of 2020 he was cruising to a landslide in 1972 with plans to break the leftist stranglehold over our government and society.
“At the beginning of my second term, Congress, the bureaucracy, and the media were still working in concert to maintain the ideas and ideology of the traditional Eastern liberal establishment that had come down to 1973 through the New Deal, the New Frontier, and the Great Society. Now I planned to give expression to the more conservative values and beliefs of the New Majority throughout the country and use my power to put some teeth into my New American Revolution.”
Nixon wrote in his diary at the time that he feared this would be the last chance to reign in the permanent bureaucracy before it became too large to control. I think the events of the last five years have sadly proven President Nixon correct.
Nixon’s attempts to reform the bureaucracy in his first term were stymied by the very entrenched interests he threatened, so he hoped that the overwhelming mandate of the American people that was seen in his 49-state landslide in 1972 would give him the political capital to take on these interests. Nixon recognized that the expansion of federal power in the New Deal and the Great Society only made the permanent bureaucracy stronger. “We finally moved to reorganize, reduce, or abolish the remaining behemoths of the Great Society that had done little to aid the poor, and which were now primarily serving the interests of the federal bureaucrats who administered them.”
Nixon grew frustrated with the seeming apathy in his own party regarding the permanent bureaucracy. “It was one thing for the Democrats to hold all four aces in Washington—the Congress, the bureaucracy, the majority of the media, and the formidable group of lawyers and power-brokers who operate behind the scenes in the city. It was another thing to give them the fifth ace of a timid opposition party.”
Nixon wrote in his memoirs that he had briefly considered creating a new party rather than deal with the spineless Republican leadership. This too sounds familiar, as many on the right have loudly condemned the Republican establishment for their own apathy regarding the contested 2020 election and proclaimed a desire to start a third party based on national populist principles. The story of Richard Nixon reminds us that we have been dealing with quislings on our own side for many years now.
Unfortunately, we all know what happened after the 1972 election. Rather than allowing President Nixon to eviscerate them, the Deep State turned on him, using the Watergate affair to destroy his administration. Most Americans know the basics of Watergate. Members of President Nixon’s reelection team broke into the offices of the Democratic National Committee at the Watergate Hotel in Washington, DC. The Nixon White House attempted to cover up the burglary, and two years of investigations and hearings resulted in the resignation of the President of the United States. Yet the truth of the matter is much more complex than how it is portrayed in popular culture. The same journalists and Hollywood movie-makers who have told the story of the crooked Richard Nixon want us to believe that Donald Trump was a fascist white supremacist who nearly destroyed our country, and that all good people stood up to oppose him, narrowly saving America from his evil. As Nixon said, it depends on who writes the history.
Both Nixon and Trump are reminders of how complicated the life of a president really is. Unlike pundits, podcasters, or journalists, the President of the United States does not have the luxury of unlimited time to follow the news or research current events. His job is to oversee the executive branch of our government, to command our armed forces, to carry out diplomatic functions as head of state, and to act as leader of his political party. An effective president must delegate work to his staff, which means that whoever he picks as Chief of Staff will wield enormous power in his administration. For President Trump, men such as General John Kelly and his son-in-law Jared Kushner were able to control and filter the information that the president received. Knowing absolutely everything that goes on in the White House is simply impossible for one man. Conservatives quickly learned that the best way to get a message directly to President Trump was for Tucker Carlson to say it on his show.
So it was in the Nixon White House as well. President Nixon had appointed his friend and law partner John Mitchell as Attorney General, and then later the head of his reelection committee. Special advisor John Ehrlichman and Chief of Staff Bob Haldeman also had enormous power to shape Nixon’s perspective on events. When the Watergate burglary occurred, Nixon trusted his staff’s assurances that it had nothing to do with anyone in the White House itself, and that it could be easily taken care of. When the scandal started growing, Nixon asked White House Counsel John Dean to get to the bottom of it, not knowing that Dean, Ehrlichman, Haldeman, and Mitchell were already up to their ears in the coverup. By the time Nixon himself realized how deep the problem went, his own words could already be used to implicate him in the coverup as well.
“We kept thinking that if we could only establish all the facts, then we could construct a way out of the situation that would minimize if not foreclose any possible criminal liability for the people involved. But we never felt confident of the facts, and every alternative course of action, from wholesale appearances before the grand jury to Special Prosecutors to presidential commissions, met with objections from one or the other of my aides and friends who suddenly found himself in a vulnerable position.”
The way Nixon tells it, he was just as adamant as the American people about figuring out the truth of the matter, but he seemed to have far too much faith in his own people. He trusted that Mitchell, Dean, Ehrlichman, and Haldeman were being honest and upfront with him, and probably waited too long to ask for their resignations. By protecting his men, Nixon would end up looking just as guilty as they were in the eyes of the American people. This perception gave the media and the Democratic Party just the excuse they were looking for. They could not beat Nixon in the election, they could not beat him in the polls, they could not beat him in the hearts of the silent majority, but they could beat him with Watergate.
“It was my belief then, and it is still my belief today, that the Democratic majority in Congress used the Watergate scandal as an excuse for indulging in a purposeful policy of ignoring and actually overriding the landslide mandate that my programs and philosophy had received in the 1972 election. Unfortunately, by the way I handled Watergate, I helped them do it.”
President Nixon eventually realized that the Watergate affair was not going to go away. His attempts to regain control of the country from what we now call the deep state bureaucracy had made him many enemies, and the press hated him with a passion not seen before or since – at least until the presidency of Donald Trump. Nixon saw that his enemies were going to use the Watergate scandal to utterly destroy him.
“And the instincts of twenty-five years in politics told me that I was up against no ordinary opposition. In this second term I had thrown down a gauntlet to Congress, the bureaucracy, the media, and the Washington establishment and challenged them to engage in epic battle.”
A DC judge convened a grand jury. The Democratic Senate began to hold hearings. White House Counsel John Dean stabbed Nixon in the back by testifying before Congress that the whole coverup had been masterminded by the president. The Department of Justice appointed a Special Prosecutor, Archibald Cox, who turned the investigation into a fishing expedition.
“No White House in history could have survived the kind of operation Cox was planning. If he were determined to get me, as I was certain that he and his staff were, then given the terms of their charter it would be only a matter of time until they had bored like termites through the whole executive branch. The frustrating thing was that while I saw them as partisan zealots abusing the power I had given them in order to destroy me unfairly, the media presented them and the public largely perceived them as the keepers of the sacred flame of American justice against a wicked President and his corrupt administration.”
The press seized upon the Watergate affair as proof that their hated rival Nixon was a crook, and they ran with that narrative. The Senate hearings and Archibald Cox’s investigation turned the affair into a national circus as they desperately tried to find anything with which to destroy the president. They did not care about collateral damage.
Someone in the IRS leaked Nixon’s tax returns to the newspapers, and they published them without hesitation, implying all sorts of financial malfeasance that was later proven to be untrue. The IRS continues to be used as a political weapon today; recall that President Obama used the IRS to target right-wing groups during the Tea Party era. An IRS staffer later leaked some of President Trump’s tax returns to the left-wing Rachel Maddow show on MSNBC, and the rest of the mainstream media predictably called it heroic.
The use of the IRS as a political tool frustrated Nixon: “The Democrats, while in office, had made little effort to camouflage their political pressure on the key government agencies. It seemed that even when they were out of power their supporters—particularly among the bureaucrats in the IRS—continued to do the job for them. I heard numerous reports—clearly too frequent to be coincidental—of close personal and political friends who had been subjected to constant and, in my view, vindictive, investigation by the IRS since the time I lost to Kennedy in 1960.”
The Deep State bureaucracy was mobilized not only against Nixon and Trump themselves, but against their families, their friends, and their supporters. President Nixon’s friend Bebe Rebozo faced hours of interrogation and testimony into his personal dealings, even those that had nothing to do with Nixon himself. It was as if the bureaucracy wanted to make examples out of the supporters of disfavored presidents, to warn the American people not to associate with them. President Trump’s son Eric recently spoke about the way the system came after them and their families. “I don’t think people realize what the Democrats tried to do to us. The way they weaponized the system. I got hundreds, hundreds, and hundreds of subpoenas. Every single day. The way they weaponized the legal system against us, the way they still do it. The way they are just out for blood. Anything they could do to take down our family, our friends. Anybody who came close to us.”
Nixon realized that Cox and his team were determined to destroy him by hook or by crook. He made the decision to fire the Special Prosecutor on Saturday, October 20, 1973. Attorney General Elliot Richardson resigned in protest rather than carry out the order, and Deputy Attorney General William Ruckelshaus did the same. The number three man in the Department of Justice, Solicitor General Robert Bork, disagreed with Nixon’s decision but believed he had the constitutional authority to do so, and so he carried out the order and fired Archibald Cox. Bork, of course, would later be nominated to the Supreme Court by President Reagan in 1987, but Senators Ted Kennedy and Joe Biden would torpedo the nomination rather than allow a conservative constitutional scholar on the bench.
“Although I had been prepared for a major and adverse reaction to Cox’s firing, I was taken by surprise by the ferocious intensity of the reaction that actually occurred. For the first time I recognized the depth of the impact Watergate had been having on America; I suddenly realized how deeply its acid had eaten into the nation’s grain. As I learned of the almost hysterical reactions of otherwise sensible and responsible people to this Saturday night’s events, I realized how few people were able to see things from my perspective, how badly frayed the nerves of the American public had become. To the extent that I had not been aware of this situation, my actions were the result of serious miscalculation. But to the extent that it was simply intolerable to continue with Cox as Special Prosecutor, I felt I had no other option than to act as I did.”
Many historians believe that firing the Special Prosecutor sealed Richard Nixon’s fate. Of course, by the time Nixon fired Cox, he was already politically dead. Had he allowed him to continue eviscerating the White House in the name of finding the truth, he eventually would have come up with some crime with which to hang the president. It was a witch hunt, a fishing expedition, an attempt to fulfil the narrative that the president was a criminal. Compare and contrast Nixon’s experience with a Special Prosecutor with that of President Trump. Shortly after Trump’s inauguration in 2017, the Democrats and their media allies took action to cripple the new administration before it got off the ground. Crooked FBI agents used a perjury trap to oust Trump’s National Security Advisor General Michael Flynn. New Attorney General Jeff Sessions, still a southern gentleman who played by the rules and assumed his opponents were acting in good faith, recused himself from the investigation into Trump’s alleged connections with Russia. His deputy, Rod Rosenstein, appointed former FBI Director Robert Mueller as a Special Prosecutor. Mueller would spend the next two years working with a team of anti-Trump partisans on a witch hunt not too different from that of Archibald Cox. Mueller’s appointment had been prompted after President Trump fired corrupt FBI Director James Comey, who as you remember had admitted to leaking information intended to damage the president. The media treated this firing as if it were Trump’s own Saturday Night Massacre, and warned that he would just end up firing Mueller as well. A bipartisan group in Congress even introduced legislation that would prevent Trump from exercising such control over an executive branch employee.
President Trump surely knew his history; he had seen the fallout that occurred when Nixon fired Archibald Cox, so he refrained from firing Mueller and let him complete his investigation. The crooked, senile old man let his staff continue investigating for months after he determined that there was no evidence of collusion with Russia. They managed to get indictments against tertiary officials such as Paul Manafort and Roger Stone for things that had nothing to do with President Trump. Mueller and his team deliberately withheld their findings until after the 2018 midterm elections, knowing that the uncertainty would help Democrats in close races. It worked, and the Democrats gained control of the House of Representatives for the first time since 2010.
Despite this apparent exoneration, the media and their Democratic allies continued the witch hunt by any means necessary. Deep state toadies Eric Ciaramella and Alexander Vindman leaked information suggesting that Trump engaged in political quid pro quo in a phone call with the President of Ukraine. Despite Trump quickly releasing the official transcripts of the call that completely refuted these accusations, the Democratic House nevertheless impeached the president in one of the most insane farces our government has ever engaged in. President Trump was exonerated by the GOP Senate, but the years of investigations and attacks severely curtailed his ability to lead the nation. While Trump had some successes in foreign policy, namely détente with North Korea and peace in the Middle East, his bold plan to drain the deep state swamp was handicapped, just as Nixon’s was. The lesson here is that once the deep state decides to attack a president, there is little he can do to stop them. Once a Special Prosecutor is appointed, a Republican president does not have many viable options. He either allows him to waste time and resources on a witch hunt that will eventually turn up something the media can turn into a scandal, or he fires him and brings down the wrath of the media for supposedly interfering in a nonpartisan investigation.
In the leadup to his inauguration, President Trump had denounced the deep state, saying that the so-called intelligence community was out of control. Powerful Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer of New York mocked him, saying “Let me tell you: You take on the intelligence community — they have six ways from Sunday at getting back at you.” Indeed, they did.
The final shoe to drop in the Watergate scandal was the White House tapes. According to Nixon, President Johnson had used a secret taping system, as had Kennedy before him, to record certain conversations in the White House for the benefit of posterity. JFK, for example, had secretly recorded Air Force General Curtis LeMay and others speaking candidly about their disappointment with Kennedy’s handling of the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962. Nixon thought this was a great idea. Not only would he have access to unaltered records of what was actually said, perhaps as a way to counter selective leaks to the press, but future historians would have access to those records as well. Unfortunately, a staffer let slip the existence of the taping system during Senate hearings on Watergate, and the race was on to subpoena those tapes. In his memoirs, Nixon wonders if he should have destroyed the tapes before a subpoena was issued, but that would probably have been just as harmful to his cause as the tapes themselves. The president fought all the way to the Supreme Court, citing privacy and executive privilege, but the Court was in no mood to defer to a president in his situation. They demanded he turn over the tapes, and once he did, they revealed that Nixon had been working to mitigate the political fallout from Watergate far earlier than he had admitted to the public. The press called it the “smoking gun”.
Richard Nixon resigned the presidency on August 9, 1974, preferring to spare the country the trauma of enduring a presidential impeachment. He spent the remaining twenty years of his life reforming his image as an elder statesman of the Republican Party and as one of the leading diplomatic minds in America. Hollywood and news media continue to treat him as the ultimate American villain, however, and continue making movies and stories about the brave reporters who took him down. John Dean, the White House attorney who took part in the coverup, then stabbed Nixon in the back, spent the Bush years as mainstream media’s favorite “Republican” who could always be counted on to trash conservatives.
There is a striking similarity between Nixon and Trump, and that is in their foreign policy successes. President Nixon oversaw an end to the Vietnam War, the beginning of détente with the Soviet Union, and the opening of relations with China after more than twenty years of isolation. President Trump was the first American president to meet with the leader of North Korea, successfully challenged China on trade, and had more success with peace in the Middle East than any US president in generations. Yet neither man received credit for these victories. The deep state and international globalist elites do not want peace, because they gain more power and influence through endless low-level war. Barack Obama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for absolutely no reason, and then continued our military adventures in Afghanistan, Syria, and Libya, using unmanned drones to kill hundreds if not thousands of people. Nixon too did not get much respect for his foreign policy. Despite opposition to the Vietnam War being the motivating factor for a decade of left-wing protests, the moment the war ended the same protestors continued to use any excuse to attack the president. The specter of Watergate has drowned out Nixon’s foreign policy in the annals of history.
Time will tell how history will treat Donald J. Trump. As Nixon said, it depends on who writes the history. Trump did not resign, rather he had his presidency stolen in a series of coups over the course of the fateful year of 2020. None of the scandals dreamed up by our hostile media managed to land on him, and he survived an unprecedented two impeachments. Unlike Nixon, who was on tape saying things that were contrary to what he said the American people, the Democrats and their media allies were never able to find a “smoking gun” against Trump. Their much-vaunted dossier turned out to be fiction and innuendo, and Special Counsel Robert Mueller concluded his investigation with no evidence that Trump had done anything wrong or illegal.
Nevertheless, the media painted President Trump’s departure from the White House as if they had successfully defeated the worst fascist Nazi in American history. They are writing their skewed history as we speak. When the border wall is inevitably torn down, our media will treat it like the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. When the Southern District of New York indicts Trump for whatever nonsense they conjure up, media will treat it like the Nuremburg Trials. They have already decided on their narrative. They will not allow Trump to present himself as an elder statesman as Nixon did. They will do their best to put him in jail, or worse, and they will do their best to brand as criminal insurrectionists anyone who supported him. They have already made their lists.
Richard Nixon’s biggest regret was watching his friends and family endure horrific treatment by the media and the Democrats simply for the crime of being his friends and family. The constant drumbeat of accusations from the media and the left, along with the ability of the Special Counsel and the Senate committees to subpoena anything and everything had a chilling effect on Nixon’s relationships. “Too many who had tried to defend me in the past had been burned, and many no longer felt sufficiently confident or motivated to take further risks for me.”
See again how the left uses this same tactic today. They used every lever of power at their disposal to make life miserable not only for President Trump, but for anyone who supported or even associated with him. Robert Mueller threw Paul Manafort in prison for the same crimes that John Podesta got away with. The FBI sent swat teams and CNN cameramen to Roger Stone’s house in an early-morning raid, as if a man near seventy years old was going to resist arrest. CNN’s Andrew Kaczynski threatened to dox a random young man who made a meme of Trump punching the CNN logo. These are not the actions of an objective media, but one that considers itself an omnipotent ruling class.
Not only has American news media has appointed itself the fourth branch of government, but they also seem to think they rule the other three. According to Nixon’s memoirs, one of the Congressmen who was most outspoken in favor of impeachment later said that Nixon would never have been forced from office if the press did not desire it. Nixon also pointed out that after months of leaks, innuendo, and hysterical headlines, the media needed to destroy him to save their own credibility. Rumors about Nixon’s complicity in the scandal were front page above-the-fold headlines, while vindication was always buried on page thirty-nine. When we see the media use this same play today, remember that it is the same playbook they have been using for more than fifty years.
I suggest that there are three lessons to take away from the stories of Richard Nixon and Donald Trump:
The first lesson is that this war for the soul of America has been going on for far longer than we like to think. The deep state did not suddenly spring to life during the Obama Administration, and globalist control of American government is not a recent development. Nixon saw it, tried to stop it, and they destroyed him. The relative success of the Reagan Administration might have lulled us into a false sense of security regarding the danger posed by the permanent bureaucracy. The Deep State is content to work with any president, Republican or Democrat, so long as he carries out their will and does not threaten their power.
The second lesson is that the deep state will absolutely destroy anyone who threatens their power. Republican voters and pundits who think a kinder, gentler Trump might have had more success are fooling themselves – Trump’s fighting instinct is the only reason he had as much success as he did. Every political figure has potential scandals that can be turned into crises anytime the deep state and media want to – look at how the knives are coming out for New York Governor Andrew Cuomo now that they have decided to replace him with someone more compliant to their globalist aims. We should not look at the media narratives about Nixon and Trump and come away believing that they were crooks, rather that they were taking fire because they were over the target.
Finally, the most important lesson to take away from Nixon and Trump is that the right president will not necessarily save us. The problems of America have grown too large for one man to fix on his own. Repairing the damage done to the American soul by globalism and the deep state must start at the ground up, not the top down. Already I see people on the right debating who should run for president in 2024. Will Trump come back? What about Governor Ron DeSantis of Florida or Kristi Noem of South Dakota? Maybe a media personality like Tucker Carlson, or a billionaire like Peter Thiel. In my opinion, this is all an exercise in rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. America is a sinking ship, and Trump – for all his passion, all his instincts, all his accomplishments – only delayed the inevitable, and was in the end outmaneuvered by the very deep state swamp he promised to drain. What else can we expect from a president?
Despite the bully pulpit, executive orders, and the biggest megaphone in the world, the office of President of the United States is not all-powerful. Many on the right were disappointed that President Trump did not do more to stop the steal in 2020, such as declaring martial law or invoking the Insurrection Act. However, who knows what would have happened if he had tried? Would his staff have obeyed his orders? Would the military have carried out his commands? Would the Congress have allowed him to proceed, or would they have immediately impeached and convicted him?
Richard Nixon came into office in 1968, determined to dismantle the permanent bureaucracy that had grown through thirty-five years of depression, war, and tumult, yet rather than draining that swamp, he was consumed by it. Donald Trump came into office in 2016, when the deep state had been in power for the better part of a century, and he too fell short. Trump, like Nixon before him, did the best he could with the information and tools he had available to him, and it still was not enough.
History shows that no empire lasts forever, and America’s time is almost up. We cannot escape the fate of the Romans, the Mongols, the Ottomans, or the British. Like Rome in the 5th century, the real power is not the titular emperor – or president – but instead the shadows behind the scenes who have the power to raise a man to high office, or to destroy him. We must stop looking for rescue from the White House, or from the DC establishment. Our temporal salvation will not come from the right person moving in to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, but when each and every one of us steps up to protect our families, our communities, and our states from the tyranny emanating out of Washington DC. You will do a lot more good for your country and your posterity by getting involved in local politics than you will by donating to a Trump 2024 campaign fund. Nobody is coming to save us. Your future is in your hands.
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