History Thread: Nixon’s Back!!!

Mercifully it’s been almost eight months since this thread’s Nixon-themed header, and what better time to bring back everyone’s “favorite” head-in-a-jar president? Because there’s been a recent flurry of Nixon releases.

PBS just released a new American Experience documentary, “The Movement and the Madman,” focusing on the clash between Nixon and the antiwar movement in 1969. In particular, the documentary talks about the Moratorium protests of fall 1969 and Nixon’s apocalyptic Duck Hook plan for bringing North Vietnam to heel. We learn from this documentary that besides the long-known contingencies of bombing the Red River dikes and using nuclear weapons, Nixon and Kissinger contemplated a full-scale invasion of North Vietnam.

One of the interviewees for the documentary is historian Carolyn Eisenberg, who recently published the book Fire and Rain: Nixon, Kissinger and the Wars in Southeast Asia which offers a new reassessment of Nixon’s Vietnam policy. This of course isn’t a new topic, but as with Garrett Graff’s recent Watergate volume I feel it’s nice to have a synthesis of recent scholarship rather than specialist works (like Ken Hughes’ Fatal Politics and Burr & Kimball’s Nixon’s Nuclear Specter) that few general readers will encounter.

And if you prefer your history dramatized, HBO’s White House Plumbers series is finally set for release on May 1st. I was disappointed by last year’s Starz offering Gaslit, which offered an annoying mixture of glib anachronism, winking self-awareness and a desperate attempt to make its subject “relevant” by drawing modern parallels as often and loudly as possible. Admittedly it gave us Shea Whigham screaming triumphantly at a terrified rat while Wagner swells on the soundtrack, which is more than most Starz series can boast. But this one promises a more consistently comedic tone, and the trailer at least makes it look much better.

And since Gerald Ford’s pardon of Nixon is being discussed again (who knows why), a good article by Eleanor Clift explaining how Ford’s misguided (at best) action led us to another ex-president being indicted.

Our site has been through a lot since my last Nixon header, but we have not forgotten what is truly important…the great taste of Charleston Chew! AROOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO