Monday, August 23, 2004

John O'Neill and Nixon

I am intrigued by the attempt to link O'Neill to Nixon (as if that would somehow invalidate what he has to say -- transductive thinking at its worst, inferring a particular from a particular). Tom Oliphant has made this charge in print and on the Lehrer NewsHour. But is it true?

In fact, O'Neill was picked for the Cavett Show debate with Kerry by the Cavett Show. He paid his own way to New York.

Didn't Chuck Colson comment favorably on him? Yes, in a series of June 1971 memos, he talks of trying to recruit O'Neill for further debates with Kerry. As I understand it, O'Neill was willing but Kerry didn't want to take on O'Neill again and refused.

But note the dates: First Cavett Show [June 11, 1971] -- Meets Nixon [June 16, 1971] O'Neill inserted himself on the scene. He was not initially recruited by the White House, although clearly the White House encouraged this group (and why not?). And since Kerry refused to go head to head with O'Neill after the second Cavett show [June 30, 1971], all of Nixon/Colson's efforts came to nothing.

So, the attempt to demonize O'Neill is spurious and certainly demonstrates that Oliphant is a biased Kerry supporter, not a dispassionate journalist (the fact that his daughter is working for the Kerry campaign is an even stronger sign).

It is conventional wisdom on the left that the Vietnam War was all bad and that Nixon had no redeeming qualities as President. I think both assertions are suspect. I am no researcher, but I cannot think of anything that President Nixon did that other Presidents have not done.

Let me be clear, I do not think this excuses his actions. When people say, as they often do, "All politicians lie", I retort, "Then all politicians should be replaced. This is a democracy. We are in charge. We get to choose. We should demand honest politicians". To say the least, Nixon did not qualify as an honest politician. But neither were Kennedy, LBJ or Klinton, so gimme a break.

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