Jonathan Aitken: Richard Nixon’s Dark Side Has Obscured His Greatness

Jonathan Aitken is a former Conservative Member of Parliament in the United Kingdom for 24 years, and a former British government Cabinet minister.

When Richard Nixon resigned the Presidency of the United States over Watergate in 1974 he was widely reviled as the worst ever occupant of the White House. But perceptions of his record have been changing. As the 100th anniversary of his birth approaches next week, a reassessment of his leadership and legacy seems timely.

Nixon was a character of Shakespearean complexity. In the late Eighties I took four years to write his biography, spending well over a hundred hours in conversation with him. In this process I saw fascinating glimpses of both his darkness and his greatness. They explain why, to this day, he polarises American opinion more than any other former president.

There is still a vociferous group of Nixon-haters in the American media. Yet there is also a substantial Nixon fan club among foreign policy specialists and centrist Republicans. Between these extremes, most average Americans remain baffled by the ambivalent character of this strange, talented loner who fought through hardscrabble poverty to high peaks of achievement from which he fell to the depths of political disgrace...

comments powered by Disqus
History News Network