American Experience: Season 3, Episode 3

Richard Nixon: Part II (15 Oct. 1990)

TV Episode  |   |  Documentary, History
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Richard M. Nixon was one of American history's most powerful figures. Recalling events etched in U.S. memory, this three-hour program explores a fateful mix of strength and weakness that ... See full summary »


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Title: Richard Nixon: Part II (15 Oct 1990)

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Richard M. Nixon was one of American history's most powerful figures. Recalling events etched in U.S. memory, this three-hour program explores a fateful mix of strength and weakness that made him president, and then brought him down. Events revealing Nixon's distinctive signature in American politics, from a meteoric rise to Congress to the presidency and the morass of Watergate, unfold in three parts: The Quest, Triumph, and The Fall. This is the second of three parts. Written by Anonymous

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15 October 1990 (USA)  »

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They left out the horns and the pointy tail
31 October 2008 | by (Staten Island, NY) – See all my reviews

This documentary of Nixon is fascinating. It's almost like watching a car crash--you can't turn away. I am no Nixon apologist. As they say, LBJ created Big Government but Nixon funded it.

However informative this was, there was of course some left-wing bias. I compared it to the very fair bio I read on RMN by Jonathan Aitken. Aitken states that Nixon was always a shy man and that's why he didn't like politicking. This documentary labeled him as "self-conscious". They seemed to downplay the role of the Communist spy Alger Hiss as the number 2 guy in the state department.

I think everything is relative, and Nixon role in Watergate should be taken accordingly. The Vietnam war was raging and there were campus demonstrations with student protesters egged on by hardcore leftists, shouting "Ho, Ho, Ho Chi Minh!!" The country was changing before our eyes. You compare that to Bill Clinton's abuse of power--the nation was not at war (even though terrorists were attacking us and old Bill didn't care to retaliate), the economy was doing well and Bill was abusing his status as POTUS even worse than Nixon ever had previously. I think one reason was Washington didn't take Clinton down--unlike with Nixon--was that he was seen as a charmer and a good old boy. Another reason for Nixon's takedown was payback for exposing Alger Hiss 25 years earlier.

Nixon's speech to his White House Staff the day he resigned was extremely moving, as this shy, vindictive man was close to tears. We can all learn from RMN's speech, including the following: "Others may hate you. But those who hate you don't win unless you hate them back. And then you destroy yourself".

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