Magazine article The Nation

The Latest New Nixon

Magazine article The Nation

The Latest New Nixon

Article excerpt

Richard Nixon has become the Rodney Dangerfield of politics. Ever since he evaded prison, thanks to President Ford's pre-emptive pardon for his Watergate crimes, he has been looking for respect. He has revisited China four times, to remind liberal centrists of his single foreign policy triumph in office; he has come out for "hardheaded detente," a phrase calculated to impress moderate conservatives; he has let it be known that the President "frequently" sought his advice before the Geneva summit, a bit of inside information aimed at Reaganites.

Last week, in an article for the Op-Ed page of The New York Times, "Lessons of the Alger Hiss Case," Nixon's campaign to rehabiliate his image hit a new low. Discussing Priscilla Hiss, who died in 1984, he noted, "In the case of Communist couples... the wife is often more extremist than the husband."

In another dubious lesson, he tried to argue that because the recent wave of Americans allegedly caught spying for the Russians did it for the money rather than out of political conviction, the Soviet Union has "lost the ideological battle"--as if Alger Hiss, who was convicted only of perjury, had ever admitted to the ideology (or actions) of which he was accused. …

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