My Grandfather (who was quite a personality), summed this up for me before he died.
At one of the holiday meals he was pontificating about past presidents:
- Carter was a great man, and an incompetent President; Nixon was a corrupt man, and a great President
- The reasons were because Carter was trustworthy and straight-forward and giving. People took advantage of him, or let him down, and all the other politicians, who were corrupt, didn't know how to deal with him. So he couldn't get what he wanted or make a difference; the system was against him.
- Nixon was a rat-bastard that would double-deal, backstab to get what he wanted, be vindictive, and didn't let principles get in his way of his agenda. However, the other politicians understood him.
- The foreign leaders, who were also corrupt, understood him and could deal with him: he wasn't going to get walked over, and he was going to get what he wanted. So he was far more effective President.
Of course there's more to Presidential politics than just that. But I had to laugh. I've looked back on many of the scummiest of our Presidents as people, in the last 150 years anyway, and most of them were "good" Presidents as far as being effective. Many of those that seemed to be the most idealistic, and have the best grounding, were the least effective or at least most maligned. So there was a serious point in that overgeneralization.
More to the Story
Of course, there's a lot more to Nixon than that, and a lot to read about him. Here's some other snippets that cover part of this complex guy:
The point isn't that I'm pro war, or even pro Vietnam war. It's that if we want to learn and grow we have to accept both the good and the bad of positions we agree/disagree with. This article tries to cover some of those tradeoffs for the Vietnam War. At least what lead up to Kent State, which is where the view of the war turned for American, internally/politically.