Thirty six years ago today, Yorba Linda’s own Richard Nixon resigned from the office of president.Â He flew into the El Toro Airbase back to his Orange County roots and a home in San Clemente, where comedian, an OC native,Â Steve Martin imagined him walking the beaches with big old shorts on using a metal detector.
On the pages of yesterday OC Register’s opinion pages — nada. In fact, I’m a little shocked that there isn’t a single letter publihsed in support of the overturning of Prop 8 by a federal judge earlier this week.Â It shows that the Register has a lot of work to do to get committed progressives to even bother commenting on issues like Prop 8 (and an appalling lack of knowledge by readers over the role of the judiciary).Â
A quick scan of today’s paper didn’t show anything and a search of the Register’s news pages using the term “Nixon” came up with a column by David Whiting of a Nixon follower’s reunion at Casa Pacifica, known as the Western White House during the early 1970s.
The New York Times didn’t forget but used a different angle to remind us of those lazy, hazy, crazy days of the summer of 1974 in a story published Saturday.Â The story is about the nearly empty Watergate exhibit at the Nixon Library in Yorba Linda.Â It reminds me of a common Republican effort to rewrite history from the Nixon to Reagan to Bush I and Bush II administrations where the shortcomings of GOP policy were blamed on Democrats and any positive story generated by Democrats was somehow the result of Republicans (for example, the Clinton economy was someone a byproduct of Ronald Reagan, George W. Bush inheireted a recession while the Great Recession is Obama’s fault..stuff like that).
From the story:Â “Officials at the National Archives have curated a searing recollection of the Watergate scandal, based on videotaped interviews with 150 associates of Richard M. Nixon, an interactive exhibition that was supposed to have opened on July 1. But the Nixon Foundation â€” a group of Nixon loyalists who controlled this museum until the National Archives took it over three years ago â€” described it as unfair and distorted, and requested that the archives not approve the exhibition until its objections are addressed.
The foundation went so far as to invoke Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson, noting that those presidents surreptitiously taped White House conversations before Nixon stepped on the scene.
Bob Bostock, a former Nixon aide who designed the original Watergate exhibit and has been enlisted by the foundation to challenge the installation, filed a 132-page letter of objection to the archives last week, claiming that the exhibit lacked the context needed to help young visitors learning about Watergate to understand exactly what Nixon did.
â€œTaping and wiretapping go back as far as F.D.R.,â€ Mr. Bostock said. â€œIt lacks the context it needs: that Nixon was not the first president to do some of these things and that some of these things had been going on with many of his predecessors, in some cases, much more than he did.â€
The Nixon Foundation does not have veto power and by law serves in an advisory role. The final ruling will be made by officials of the National Archives within the next few weeks.
The foundationâ€™s objection has left the exhibition in shadows, both figuratively and literally: A visitor touring the museum moves from lively exhibits devoted to Nixonâ€™s visit to China, to the gowns Tricia Nixon wore at her White House wedding and Pat Nixon wore to an inaugural, to the presidential limousine and a testimony to Nixonâ€™s domestic accomplishments, and finally into a bleak half-dark hallway that recalls, well, a certain 18 1/2-minute gap associated with the waning days of the Nixon presidency.”
I remember the night clearly.Â I was 13 years old and watching John Chancellor on NBC (which came in better over our rabbit ears that CBS and Walter Cronkite did) talking about this historic night.Â I can remember Nixon being pardoned by President Ford, and my mom, a conservative, wondering aloud if a deal was made.Â This took place 3,000 miles from Orange County in the heart ofÂ Central New York in a city where the American Flag flew for the first time in the face of the British during the Revolutionary War.Â Not everyone saw Richard Nixon as the people of Orange County did or do. And most of the nation never will.