This was the scene 40 years ago today:
The country was in chaos. This was a devastating speech, given by a man who had lost everything. And it was a very moving speech. I don’t know how anyone could watch it then and not cry, no matter how much they hated Richard Milhous Nixon and everything he stood for. He is the father of today’s dysfunctional Republican Party, and he showed you could win elections by cobbling together the racists of the old confederacy and the money men of the North and West.
Not to mention George McGovern was a completely incompetent candidate for the Democrats.
The overwhelmingly stupid thing about Watergate was that Nixon’s people never had to break into the Democratic headquarters in the complex to find out what McGovern was up to. The Democrats had totally blown themselves up in 1972 and there was no way in hell Nixon wasn’t going to win in a landslide.
But the thugs and criminals did their job, and the administration covered it up, and Nixon lied about it.
Want to know what’s more astounding about this? Nixon wasn’t impeached. He resigned before it happened. The last president who was impeached was Bill Clinton, and what he was impeached for, on a scale of impeachable offenses, didn’t even touch the top inch of the ice burg of corruption that was the centerpiece of the Nixon presidency.
Still, Nixon was the most fascinating president of my lifetime. I’ve read biographies and autobiographies about him, trying to make sense of how he got to this point in 1974. And at the end of it all, Nixon is immortalized in this song.
Even Richard Nixon has got soul.