Why exhume this history? Merely to suggest that the Woodward and Bernstein essay does not tell the entire story. Indeed, it might be fair to conclude that what is new in the piece is not interesting and what is interesting is not new. The authors suggest that the new information simply confirms their original hunches and conclusions. Woodward and Bernstein wrote the first draft of history and provided the material evidence that people needed to make the moral judgment that the times called for. But with greater distance and perspective, it seems clear that Nixon did not represent the high point of the imperial presidency. George W. Bush and Barack Obama have gone further in foreign affairs than Nixon ever did, the former in authorizing torture, the latter in personally signing off on the assassination of terrorists, including an American citizen. Next to George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, Nixon was a piker. Of course, the excesses of Nixon should not be waved away. But they can also be viewed in a broader context than Woodward and Bernstein appear prepared to allow. Like some of Nixon's aging and dwindling and die-hard defenders, they are stuck in something of a time warp.
The War Against Richard Nixon: Woodward and Bernstein Overlook the Right
June 11, 2012