I was born Jan. 22 1969. This demon was my first look at a president. A fine inoculation against believing them.
Reading(well, technically, listening as it's an audiobook) NIXONLAND, one thing strikes me: that there is no exaggeration in saying his term was terrifying and took NO time whatsoever to become so. That we are all living in the fractured America he deliberately and carefully made and may never be able to escape; that Nixon poisoned America forever. But especially in his own time. He despised us all. Even his friends were only that because they were useful tools, as with every psychopath. He was a truly evil man, and that is a vast understatement only underscored every time we find out more about him. No details ever make him look better no matter how hard you look. We were lesser for letting him be president. My friend Marc, a socialist activist, rarely among "revolutionaries" is careful about who he calls a "fascist" and tries to use it only when it strictly applies. As am I, and for the same reason: trivialize a word enough and it becomes useless. And fascist DOES have a specific meaning. Most of what we call that now may be authoritarian but is not strictly "fascist." (there are equally bad things that have different names) But Nixon? No, that's EXACTLY what he was, at least in technique--but in fascism technique and intent are one. Nixon was our fascist president, and he tore great chunks out of our souls. The fucker was nearly Darkseid. Or, given which one is real and actually destroyed millions of lives, Darkseid is nearly Nixon. Darkseid embodied the concept of Nixon, how he made you feel in that time. The world as nothing but endless war, control, humiliation, submission, and hate. But above all, control. I knew much of this story before, having been obsessed with Nixon pretty much my entire life--the first few years of my life coincide with his presidency from its start. But Perlstein supplies a lot of context and details that make it all fresh, and worse, again. Nixon is a lesson we all need to remember, and he is also a curse upon us. I'm not talking about Watergate as such--though that's even more of what I mean--I'm talking about everything he did in his first term that we only know BECAUSE of Watergate. The man was willing to exterminate his opposition. In fact, it seems that Nixon NEVER considered a decent option even once--he went straight to "kick 'em in the nuts, make them bleed," every. Single. Time. First. Time. He did not seem to be able to conceive any option not based on causing pain. Or maybe he was just a sadist, and now that he had America by the nuts, he did not care about the pretense of considering any other option. He organized lumpenproletariat to streetfight. He used the power of the state in collusion with corporations to destroy radicals and, in fact, everyone who was not specifically pledged as loyal to him, and even then you were not safe. He gave tacit permission and overt encouragement to all law enforcement in America to beat and shoot dissenters in some cases no older than 20. He sent Kissinger to wreck Johnson's peace talks with North Vietnam in 1968 (saying "if you wait till November, you may get a better deal") just to make sure he won the election, and then even more Americans and Vietnamese died, for many more years, for...no real reason.
He was certainly at the least a totalitarian, and imagine if he had ended the war in his term and stayed president. Imagine what he would have done.
Because though his massive domestic war on his own people was linked to the war, the main thing was that Nixon wanted complete control from word one, whether there had been a war or no. Because he was a bitter, truly hateful, dark, dark paranoid man who seemed not to have any humanity in him but the weakest, nastiest parts of being human. He wiped out any notion of consensus. The paradigms of polarization he created are with us to this day; 70-year-olds still warping our lives over a 45-year-old argument. He was terrifying, I am reminded by this, more so than we already knew. That he was removed from office was the luckiest moment in American history. There truly never was, before or after, anything as dark as he in that building.
________________ Except of course. Dick. Cheney. Who learned it all in the master's lap. And was president,and to this day continues to reopen every wound that may have healed and shit in it whenever possible. (By the way, why not watch Dick Cheney watch some TV in 2001? Kicking back with his feet up.) And by the way, whatever the faults of the counterculture, it was still far, far better than having anything to do with the psychopathically, murderously square culture of the time. These people would have killed you to preserve the world as seen in GREEN ACRES. But it can never be said enough:
Richard Nixon was a fucking monster, and that is what it looks like when a true monster is in the Oval Office. The only thing in the government more frightening than him in his time was J. Edgar Hoover, whose infection we also still live with in some ways that are even worse. ___________________
"Eternity in the company of Beelzebub, and all of his hellish instruments of death, will be a picnic compared to five minutes with me & this pencil." --E. Blackadder, 1789 Questionable
words & pictures from John Linton Roberson