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Tue Oct 1, 2019, 11:39 AM

Trump v Nixon [View all]

“Can you imagine what this man could have been had somebody loved him? Had somebody in his life cared for him? I don’t think anybody ever did, not his parents, not his peers. He would have been a great, great man had somebody loved him. “
Henry Kissinger on Nixon; interview with Hugh Sidey for TIME

I have had an interesting conversation with my friend Lynne on comparisons between Nixon and Trump. I've participated in some threads on this topic here in recent months. Probably thousands of people have had similar discussions in households across the nation in the past few days. And it's interesting to discuss each one's scandals, and the similarities and differences between them.

Some journalists and former prosecutors on the news have been making the same general comparisons. With the current horrors of seeing the damage that Trump is inflicting on our nation, it is tempting for me to think, “Nixon really wasn't THAT bad.” Thankfully, Lynne reminded me that he was. The truth is that they are both worse.

Let's start by considering what environmental factors in their early lives may have warped each beyond repair. Nixon grew up in a poor family. His religious mother was strongly opposed to “sins” such as dancing, drinking,or swearing His father had trouble making enough money to raise the family. His younger brother was sick, and eventually died. There is no reason to think his parents did anything less than their best, but it produced a young man with internal turbulence.

Trump was raised in the lap of luxury. However, he had a cold, reptilian father, while his mother – described by others as a socialite – seems to be missing in significance. This suggests a strict patriarchal family system. Reportedly, Trump acted out, and was thus sent to a military school for boys – another rigid patriarchal system.

I don't know if Nixon's parents provided the love and emotional support he needed. I don't think Trump's father, as a primary influence on his son, lacked the emotional capacity to love Donald, any more than Donald loves Eric. To be fair, it would be hard for any parent to love Dick, Donald, or Eric.

Nixon could have used his birthright as a Quaker to avoid military service. But he joined the Navy in 1942. Trump had bone spurs. Nixon made money playing cards in the Navy, an obvious rebellion from his mother's strict religious views. Trump played people to make (and lose) money, in an obvious attempt to please his father.

As adults, they share a number of traits. Both can be accurately described as paranoid, envious, and having a curious combination of inferiority and superiority complexes. Both are known as liars: Nixon when he believed it to be beneficial, Trump pathologically. Both used people for personal gain. Nixon had one friend, and Trump none. Both admired and conducted business with mobsters. Both believed themselves above the law, and were willing to sacrifice those close to them to avoid legal consequence. And both had a compulsive need to punish “enemies.”

That brings us to their crimes, as candidates for president and as president. (It would take far too long to examine their previous criminal adventures.) It's important to remember that Nixon, as a candidate in 1968, did have a campaign representative contact a foreign government in an illegal attempt to interfere in a US election.


Likewise, we know that the Trump campaign coordinated efforts with a foreign government to interfere with the 2016 election.

Nixon had an “enemies list” of people to be targeted by the executive branch; it consisted of political opponents and journalists. Trump has made a similar, if less formal, hit list.


The Nixon tapes document his plans to have goons attack protesters at his 1972 re-election campaign rallies and the RNC convention. There were actually plans to kidnap some leaders of the “New Left” and drop them off in Mexico so that they could not attend the convention. We all remember Trump's comments about assaulting protesters at his rallies.

When pressure was being put on each, and their criminal escapades about to be uncovered, both abused the power of office to attempt to cover their tracks by firing investigators. Nixon had the Saturday Night Massacre, Trump fired FBI director Comey, and attempted to fire Mueller.

Both administrations were exposed to the media by a series of leaks to journalists. Both presidents became extremely paranoid about the military-intelligence “spying” on them. In both cases, their fears were justified. A too often forgotten episode of the Nixon experience was the Moorer-Radford Affair.


The whistle-blower who exposed Trump's call to Ukraine is a CIA analyst. And the crimes he reported are substantiated by documents the White House attempted to hide, not unlike the Nixon tapes. And the tapes were revealed by Alexander Butterfield, a retired Navy officer and associate of Al Haig.

Nixon and Trump differ in their behaviors in the White House when the pressure of investigations increased. Despite some press conferences – including the infamous “people need to know if their president is a crook” bit – Nixon became an isolated, tortured man who drank far too much. Trump is publicly taking the stance that it is legal for a president to break the law, and he doesn't drink.

However, both men blamed their problems on “enemies,” and expected subordinates to take the blame for them. And that brings us to one last similarity: in a healthy society, neither man could possibly be considered fit to exercise political power, as both would be recognized as pathetic, failed human beings.

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H2O Man Oct 2019 OP
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