Watergate

The Nixon tragedy: A man of unsurpassed courage and outstanding intelligence but without vision. An opportunist who missed his greatest opportunity.

Eric Hoffer

For the sake of attempting to cover up a politically inspired burglary in a presidential election that the Democrats were busily throwing away, Nixon in 1972 embarked on a cover-up that eventually destroyed his Presidency, with his resignation in disgrace coming in August of 1974.

Greek tragedy is too mild a term to apply when discussing the presidency of Nixon.  Dealt a bad hand in Vietnam, he extricated the country from Vietnam while building up the South Vietnamese military to the extent that they could hold their own against the North Vietnamese, as long as supplies kept flowing from the US and their ground forces were supported by American air power.  His diplomatic opening to Red China was a masterful, if fairly obvious, strategic win over the Soviets.  Talks with the Soviets helped lower the temperature of the Cold War.  Domestically Nixon was the liberal Republican he always was, with wage and price controls and an expansion of the Federal government.

The ironic thing about Nixon is that he was hated by liberals and the elite media, yet on domestic policy questions he was in virtual lockstep with them, including on abortion which he was privately in favor of, although he publicly opposed it.  The intense hatred went back to Nixon’s early political career where he used anti-communism to win both his House seat and his Senate seat.  Nixon also committed the unforgivable sin of being right about Alger Hiss being a Soviet agent.

Compared to many of his Democrat predecessors, Nixon’s crimes were fairly commonplace.  LBJ got into the Senate in 1948 by stuffing the ballot box and who probably elected Kennedy in 1960 by doing the same in Texas. There was no crime that Nixon did that LBJ had not done, usually with more skill. Victor Lasky’s It Didn’t Start With Watergate (1977) demonstrated that the main difference between Nixon and preceding Democrat presidents from FDR, who had the IRS audit political foes, forward is that he didn’t have a protective press. Nixon was the first Republican president since the Great Depression, Eisenhower not really counting because of his national hero status. That made him illegitimate already in the eyes of most of the media that had grown up in a world where the Democrats controlled the Federal government. Nixon’s mile long streak of paranoia helped his enemies ultimately get him, but even paranoids can have real enemies and that was the case with Richard Nixon. If Nixon had made a clean breast of things after the Watergate break in he would have survived politically and doubtless have won re-election, but it was not in him to expose his neck to his enemies like that and trust to the American people.

Getting Nixon’s scalp was a classic Pyrrhic victory for his foes.  His destruction weakened his wing of the Republican party and paved the way for the rise of Ronald Reagan and a much more conservative GOP which has proven a much more successful adversary against the Democrats than the party that Nixon led.

Published in: on June 2, 2021 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on Watergate  
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Lincoln and the Creation of Thanksgiving

 

 

In the midst of this, however, He, from Whom all blessings flow, must not be forgotten. A call for a national thanksgiving is being prepared, and will be duly promulgated.

Abraham Lincoln, from his last public address, April 11, 1865

Abraham Lincoln frequently throughout the Civil War called for thanks giving for Union victories and for prayers and repentance for national sins.  The idea however of an annual Thanksgiving did not spring from him but from Sarah Josepha Hale, a noted literary figure who, among other accomplishments wrote the child’s poem Mary Had a Little Lamb.  Born in 1788, for years she had led a movement for a national day of Thanksgiving to be observed annually. (more…)

Published in: on November 22, 2020 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on Lincoln and the Creation of Thanksgiving  
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Lincoln on Washington

This is the one hundred and tenth anniversary of the birth-day of Washington. We are met to celebrate this day. Washington is the mightiest name of earth — long since mightiest in the cause of civil liberty; still mightiest in moral reformation. On that name, an eulogy is expected. It cannot be. To add brightness to the sun, or glory to the name of Washington, is alike impossible. Let none attempt it. In solemn awe pronounce the name, and in its naked deathless splendor, leave it shining on.

Abraham Lincoln, February 22, 1842

Published in: on March 10, 2020 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on Lincoln on Washington  
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The Star-Spangled Banner

(I originally posted this at The American Catholic and I thought the national anthem mavens of Almost Chosen People might find it of interest.)

 

Race-obsessed Leftists find the stupidest things to argue about in their never ending pursuit of fame and profit by inflaming race hatred.

Two centuries and six years ago America was going through rough times.  Engaged in a War with Great Britain, Washington DC had been burned on August 24, symbolic of a war that seemed to be turning against the United States.  With the fall of Napoleon in April of 1814, the British were now free to punish the upstart Yankees who had dared challenge Great Britain.  Now the British were preparing to seize the port of Baltimore with a force of 5,000 troops and 19 warships.

British plans began to go awry from the outset.  At the battle of North Point on September 12, 3200 Maryland militia gave a good account of themselves against 4,000 British regulars inflicting 350 casualties for slightly fewer American casulaties, and retreated in good order to the fortified line around Baltimore.  Among the British killed was the commander Major General Robert Ross, a peninsular veteran of Wellington’s army, shot down by American riflemen.

On September 13, the British, now commanded by Colonel Arthur Brooke, approached Baltimore.  Estimating that the Baltimore defenses were held by 22,000 militia and 100 cannon, Brooke was unable to launch an attack unless the British fleet could enter Baltimore Harbor to beat down the American defenses by naval bombardment. (more…)

Published in: on February 11, 2020 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on The Star-Spangled Banner  
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History: Great Events or Great Men and Great Women?

 

One of the abiding debates in History is whether it is shaped primarily by vast forces at work in human civilizations or by great, the term is not used in a moral sense, men and women who shape the times in which they lived.  It is tempting to fudge the question and say both, an easy answer and partially true.  Napoleon would doubtless have ended his career on half pay as a Major serving in the Royal artillery of France but for the French Revolution.  However, it is impossible to see the French Revolution morphing into the French Empire without the drive, extreme military genius and grandiose vision of Napoleon.  I think it is also impossible to see the French Revolution occurring or prevailing except for Louis XVI, a good man and perhaps the most incompetent of French monarchs being, on the throne of France in 1789.  No, I am fully in the camp of historians who believe history is shaped mostly by great individuals.  Behind the scenes of course all of this is being stage managed for His purposes, within the limits of human free will, by God, but that is to leave History and enter the realm of theology.

Recently I read the book Strange Rebels: 1979 and the Birth of the Twenty-First Century (2013) by Christian Caryl.  It is an astonishingly good book and shows how four figures:  Margaret Thatcher, Pope John Paul II, Deng Xiaoping, Ayatollah Khomeini, each, in their own way, led counter-revolutions against the drift towards Socialism that was the dominant theme of the world post World War II up till 1979.  Of course there was a fifth figure at that time, perhaps the most important of them all, who was preparing a campaign which would drive from power an incumbent President and alter the course of American, and world, history, Ronald Reagan.  Reagan is a large figure in Caryl’s chapters on Thatcher, but I think he explored the other four individuals in making his argument, because they are much less well known, with the possible exception of Pope John Paul II, to most Americans than Reagan.

Thatcher made an odd Prime Minister of Great Britain, and not primarily because of her sex.  As she climbed the greasy pole of British politics, her opponents sneered at her lower middle class origins, calling her “the grocer’s daughter”.  I doubt if Thatcher minded.  Most of her world view she acquired from her father, an intensely religious and conservative man, who treasured hard work and drive, and preached the need for limited government and the importance of the free market.  He taught his daughter never to follow the crowd and to stand unhesitatingly for what she thought was right.  In her radical embrace of free markets and her intense Euro-skepticism, Thatcher stood in sharp contrast to the well bred elites who tended to dominate the Conservative Party.  What Thatcher proclaimed, they argued sotto voce, was well enough to say when stumping for votes, but to actually govern that way would be a disaster.  She proved them wrong and they never forgave her for it, ultimately replacing her in 1990 with the colorless non-entity John Major, who would lead the Tories to their worst electoral defeat ever in 1997 at the hands of Tony Blair and his more market oriented New Labor.  Thatcher died in 2013, her passing marked by displays of raw hate by the far Left in the UK.  (I suspect that Thatcher would have viewed these grotesque displays of bile as the finest tribute paid to her!)  The hatred was well earned.  Thatcher had planted well.  No British government could return to pre-Thatcher Socialism and her Euro-skepticism was prophetic of the Brexit vote in 2016.  Rather than being shaped by her times primarily, Thatcher shaped the times to come.

 

Published in: on January 13, 2020 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on History: Great Events or Great Men and Great Women?  
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Myths of the Enlightenment

Few historical categories are more fatuous than the lumping together of very diverse movements and individuals in the term “Enlightenment”.   Like many bad ideas in reference to History, the idea of The Age of Enlightenment was a product of late nineteenth century historians.  It is an erroneous concept that gives us a very bad misunderstanding of the eighteenth century, and creates out of whole cloth an intellectual movement that existed, in part, only in France, and when applied to other nations gives a completely false impression of the times.  It lumps together technological advancements, philosophical skepticism of religion and various reform movements that usually had little in common.   That the eighteenth century came to a sudden end with the catastrophe of The French Revolution, a monumental event that cast a backward shadow over all that occurred in that century, makes the century hard enough to understand without the self-inflicted wound of “the Enlightenment” that has been visited by most historians on the study of that fascinating, and complex, time.

Published in: on January 7, 2020 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on Myths of the Enlightenment  
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The History of Christmas

 

A good video on the history of Christmas.  Go here to read an excellent article at New Advent on the history of Christmas.

Published in: on December 10, 2019 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on The History of Christmas  
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D-Day: Seventy-Five Years Ago

 

Seventy-Five years ago what General Eisenhower called The Great Crusade began:

 

Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen of the Allied Expeditionary Force!
You are about to embark upon the Great Crusade, toward which we have striven these many months. The eyes of the world are upon you. The hopes and prayers of liberty-loving people everywhere march with you.
In company with our brave Allies and brothers-in-arms on other Fronts, you will bring about the destruction of the German war machine, the elimination of Nazi tyranny over the oppressed peoples of Europe, and security for ourselves in a free world.
Your task will not be an easy one. Your enemy is well trained, well equipped and battle hardened. He will fight savagely.
But this is the year 1944! Much has happened since the Nazi triumphs of 1940-41. The United Nations have inflicted upon the Germans great defeats, in open battle, man-to-man. Our air offensive has seriously reduced their strength in the air and their capacity to wage war on the ground. Our Home Fronts have given us an overwhelming superiority in weapons and munitions of war, and placed at our disposal great reserves of trained fighting men. The tide has turned! The free men of the world are marching together to Victory!
I have full confidence in your courage and devotion to duty and skill in battle.
We will accept nothing less than full Victory! Good luck! And let us beseech the blessing of Almighty God upon this great and noble undertaking.

 

In the event D-Day did not fail. 2,499 Americans and 1,915 from Great Britain, Canada and the other Allied Powers, paid the ultimate price for the victory gained that day.  They deserve to be remembered for helping to remove a terrible evil from the world three-quarters of a century ago.

 

Published in: on June 6, 2019 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on D-Day: Seventy-Five Years Ago  
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Brightness to the Sun

 

This is the one hundred and tenth anniversary of the birth-day of Washington. We are met to celebrate this day. Washington is the mightiest name of earth — long since mightiest in the cause of civil liberty; still mightiest in moral reformation. On that name, an eulogy is expected. It cannot be. To add brightness to the sun, or glory to the name of Washington, is alike impossible. Let none attempt it. In solemn awe pronounce the name, and in its naked deathless splendor, leave it shining on.

Abraham Lincoln, February 22, 1842

Published in: on February 22, 2019 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on Brightness to the Sun  
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No World War I

Farewell the plumed troop, and the big wars,
That make ambition virtue!

Othello, Act 3, Scene 3

 

 

Alternate history has always fascinated me, and Andrew Roberts, a great contemporary historian, I heartily recommend his recent biography of Churchill, does a good job of pointing out the traumas that arose in the wake of the grand blood-letting we call World War I, and how they may have been avoided if World War I had not occurred.  Do I think  World War I could have been avoided?  Well, certainly the crisis over Sarajevo could have been settled peacefully if a modicum of common sense by Austria-Hungary and Germany had prevailed.  However, Europe had enjoyed an unprecedented, up to that time, peace since Waterloo in 1815, interrupted only by relatively brief wars between the Great Powers, but by 1914 this vacation from history was manifestly breaking down.  The Balkans had produced, since the closing decades of the 19th century, a series of minor wars that were always threatening to get out of hand and involve the Great Powers.  For good reason Otto von Bismarck, the man who created Imperial Germany, had predicted the year before his death:“That one day the great European War would come out of some damned foolish thing in the Balkans.”   In the decades leading up to the Sarajevo Crisis, Europe had weathered a series of crises that threatened great power clashes.  Below the surface of the stability of the Great Powers were revolutionary movements, waiting impatiently in the wings of contemporary history for their forthcoming moment on center stage.  In retrospect it is not of note that the Great War came, but that its outbreak had been delayed so long by jury-rigged emergency diplomacy, a general hesitation among the Great Powers to risk all on a roll of the iron dice of war and, above all, good luck.  When peace depends primarily on luck, sooner or later the good luck will run out.

 

 

Darryl Bates : What started it?

Published in: on January 7, 2019 at 5:30 am  Comments (2)  
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