The profusion of scandals bedeviling the Obama administration has evoked many comparisons with other presidencies — particularly Richard M. Nixon. There is no evidence, however, of serious skulduggery by White House officials or members of the re-election campaign, as in the Nixon administration. More important, America’s over-excited and enticed puritanical conscience has not been mobilized to impute what Kafka called “nameless crimes” to the president as there was with Nixon.
There seems no national desire to tear President Barack Obama down. Not like with Nixon, who faced an atavistic desire to destroy a distinguished administration and scuttle its entire effort in Vietnam, in which 57,000 Americans died and hundreds of thousands were wounded. A near unanimity of national media has not suddenly formed to crucify (bloodlessly but no less effectively) the leader of the country, nor is there any pandemic of the tribal conviction that “the king must die.” These were distinctive characteristics of the Watergate and Vietnam crises.
Nixon’s Democratic opponents, Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson, had plunged into Vietnam and mismanaged the war, from which he had extracted the United States while preserving a non-communist government in Saigon. The South Vietnamese had defeated the communists in the ground war ignited by the North Vietnamese offensive of April 1972, between Nixon’s return from China and visit to Moscow to conclude SALT I, the greatest arms control agreement in history.
Saigon did this without any U.S. ground assistance, though there was heavy air support, which Nixon planned to resume when, as expected, Hanoi violated the peace agreement. That is why Nixon sent the treaty to the Senate for ratification, to assure support for resumption of bombing of the North, when that time came.