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Why Nixon Was Almost Impeached and Had to Resign the Presidency

January 1, 2020 2 comments

In early 2013, I wrote a post on why Nixon was still the most reviled president in recent american history. Since that time (especially post Nov 8, 2016) things have.. changed. While establishment democrats have been busy trying to sell the bullshit farce of Trump’s impeachment via a totally partisan vote in the house, I thought it would be a good time to return to topic of impeachment- specifically focusing on the last president who resigned rather than face impeachment. As many of you know, dying corporate media figureheads have been futilely masturbating at the possibility of Trump resigning or being removed from office ever since he won the election in 2016. So let us talk about why Nixon resigned rather than face removal through impeachment and why the later possibility was realistic in the early 1970s, but is laughably improbable in 2020.

1] The 1970s and 1980s were the last decades when the electorate and politicians in this country were not ideologically polarized. It is noteworthy that 1973 was immediately after the last great political realignment of 1968-1972, which was caused by passage of civil right and other similar legislation and resulted in a realignment of the political fortunes for both major parties. After that realignment, democrats started winning in traditionally republican constituencies and regions while republicans started winning in democratic strongholds in the south. But more relevantly, the reasonably good economic times (or at least their recent memory) along with the relatively minor differences in public positions of both parties in combination with lots of deal making in smokey rooms made something like bipartisan impeachment of the president a real possibility.

2] While Nixon won the 1972 presidential election by a large margin, he was never personally a popular president with a loyal base. To make matters worse, he had stepped on the toes of many fellow republicans during his rise to power. While politicians as a group are not known for loyalty to their colleagues, having a long history of pissing of your fellow partisans makes such decisions that much easier. Nixon had, over the eight years of his vice-presidency under Eisenhower and first term as president, amply demonstrated his tendency to be untrustworthy to his own party members as well as hog the limelight. Read a bit about the machinations which got him selected as republican candidate in 1962 and 1968. It is no wonder that so many of his own party members were, at at best, ambivalent in their support for him.

3] Nixon was unlucky to be elected at a transitional period in american history. His victory in 1968 came in an era of much racial and social conflict, not to mention all those “mysterious” political assassinations. He was also unfortunate to come to power at the same time as formerly popular but now exposed assholes such as Curtis LeMay, J. Edgar Hoover, Robert Moses etc had started to lose their positions of authority and power. In other words, the public was increasingly associating men of his type and generation with abuse of power and general malfeasance- sorta being like catholic priests in the past decade. While this, by itself, would have not been deadly to his political career – it occurred alongside many large failures over which he ended up presiding.

4] Nixon was also unlucky enough to be the president when USA had to finally withdraw from erstwhile south Vietnam. As I have mentioned in some previous posts, USA has not won a single large armed conflict since WW2. However their previous defeats such as an inability to win the Korean war had been sold to the american public as stalemates. The defeat in Vietnam was however simply too obvious to spin and though Nixon did not initiate the american involvement in that conflict, he was the president when the maximum number of american soldiers died in that war. Leaks about the “secret” mass bombings of Laos and Cambodia did not help his public image either, not because the racist white american public cared about innocent Asian lives but because the expenditure of all that money, white lives and bombs did not prevent their defeat in Vietnam.

5] Nixon was also unlucky be president towards the end of three decades of post-WW2 prosperity enjoyed by americans. He was the president when Stagflation became a thing and his attempts price control measures did not work as intended. the USA also looked impotent in the aftermath of the oil shock of the early-1970s. The achievements and optimism of the 1950s and 1960s had given way to defeatism and pessimism of the 1970s. Nixon became increasingly associated in the minds of the public and politicians with a country that was past its prime and on a path of decline. We also cannot forget the numerous investigations into illegal activities by governmental agencies such as the Church Committee were started after leaks such as the Pentagon Papers and other similar revelations which permanently damaged the public image of many american government agencies and institutions. Much of this occurred while Nixon was president.

To make a long story short, the impeachment of Nixon had nothing to do with “maintaining the rule of law” or any other moralistic-sounding bullshit. It, however, had everything to do with an attempt to rebrand the american government and institutions by forcing out an already disliked president who just happened to be the public face of many failures suffered by the american establishment in the late-1960s and early-1970s. They just wanted to replace an old mascot of declining popularity with another one who appeared better on TV and did not instantly remind americans of the numerous recent failures suffered by their elites and institutions. After Nixon resigned, being able to maintain a positive public image became the defining attribute of any president. And that is why establishment media and their willing catamites still obsess about the image of politicians rather than their actions and impact of their decisions.

What do you think? Comments?