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August 10, 1974 - Image 4

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Publication:
Michigan Daily, 1974-08-10

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Requiem for a president

The deed
By BETH NISSEN
N HIS 37th nationwide address, our Pts Prse-
ident resigned his Oval and Presidential
office. In a fifteen-minute speech that had more
gaping gaps than the fatal tapes, Nixon ended
his chronic political career.
Nixon had come close to political cottapse be-
fore; his political history is Checkered w i t h
crises threatening to topple him from greater
and greater official heights. With Oscar-deserv-
ing theatrics, and a strong practice of Orthodox
belief in himself, Nixon in the past has managed
to save his precious political reputation from
indignant trampling.
In resigning the office he spent over half his
life working toward, and used and abused to
try to cement himself into an enviable position
in history, Richard Nixon took no respansibility
for the events that changed our whole history;
he admitted no guilt and apologized to no victim.
His abdictation address modestly mentioned only
that some of his "judgments were wrong." In
Nixon's eyes, his resignation was not a result
of these wrong judgments, but the result of the
loss of necessary Congressional support.
"I HAVE CONCLUDED," he explained, that
because of the Watergate matter I might not
have the support of the Congress that I would
consider necessary to back the very difficult
decisions and carry out the duties of this office
in the way the interests of the nation will re-
quire." The "Watergate matter" and the legislat-
ors in Congress who did not maintain loyal sup--
port are left straining under the burden of the
blame. There was no mourning the dissolution
of the moral base of his Presidency, only the
recent and vaguely unaccounted-for dissolution
of his Congressional political base.
As part of his legacy, Richard Nixon left us his
"personal" political achievements, proudly list-
ing the ending of the Vietnam war, improved re-
lations with the Peoples Republic of China and
Russia, and detente. And fearing his presidential
actions were not enough to leave an honorable
legacy, he gave us his words as well. "I have
fought for what I believe in," he intoned sol-
emnly. "I have tried to the best of my ability

to discharge those duties and meet those respon-
sibilities that were entrusted to me." He tried
to etch himself into our history and memory as
a heroic and valiant warrior, who, if he falls,
does, so while daring greatly. If he has aMe
been a man of unfailing good judgment, high
moral fihre or compassion, he has at least con-
siilered himself to he of great courage.
NIXON OBSERVES all surrounding life from
a Cyclopian and myopic political I. He left office
with no vocalized public regret for past legal
or moral sins, or the legal and personal trials of
his former loyalists and the sorrow of their
families, but "with regret at not completing
my term."
"I would have preferred to carry through to the
finish, whatever the personal agony it would have
involved," he continued. There was no mention
of the agony of those caught in the grinding
gears of his ego-driven Presidential machine.
We were not given a mea culpa from a contrite
and broken Nixon; he instead seemed to see him-
self as a political St. Stephen, the first Presiden-
tial martyr recorded in our history. He assured
us that the stones he saw being hurled by hate-
blinded press and weak-kneed former supporters
caused him no bitterness and less pain; they in-
curred only disappointment that he had been
prevented from succeeding to the historical pe-
destal of The Nation's Best President.
RICHARD NIXON has been honest in one re-
spect. "I have never been a quitter," he remind-
ed us on Thursday night. Nixon has indeed never
quit his fight for himself. His bulldozer character
and ambition have unhaltingly caterpillared
through five and a half years of the presidency,
leaving behind the mutilated careers and lives
and bleeding consciences of those sacrificed in
Nixon's drive toward personally gratifying goals.
In concluding his resignation with honor, Nixon
prayed that God's grace be with us in the days
ahead. May it be with you, also, Richard Nixon,
accompanied by prayers - that you will find a
clear lens of perspective and honest self-exam-
ination to improve the vision of your I; that you
may someday feel a deep sorrow and apprecia-
tion for the injuries your friends have suffered
and will continue to sustain; that you are able
to grant a private amnesty to your soil and that
you may find some true peace with honor for
yourself.

T'lE
Michigan Daily
Edited and monoed by Students ot the
University of Michigan
Saturday, August 10, 1974
News Phone: 764-0552
No bricks, no roses
AT AN HOUR when many Americans are urging forgive-
ness and legal immunity for citizen Richard Nixon,
the nation risks losing an historic opportunity to pump
new life into some venerated old parchment.
There is nothing unreasonable about a sense of
emotional forgiveness toward a man whose life has un-
doubtedly been ruined, and a family who must now bear
the worst stain ever to touch the White House. At this
time, an attitude of revenge and vindictiveness would
only add another stripe of decadence to Watergate's
filthy quilt.
But to grant Nixon immunity from prosecu-
tion would change Watergate from a lengthy crisis to a
permanent disaster: if one thing should come out of the
Nixon administration's disgraceful performance, it is
that no citizen is above the law, and no public official is
more powerful than the Constitution.
THE LAW IS MOST practical in defending itself: it
dictates harsh punishments for those who stand in
the way of the law, and the statutes make no exception
for Presidents. The Constitution's authors repeatedly
warned that public officials who abuse their power and
violate their oath must be removed from access to that
power, or they will trample the democracy's fragile
guards against tyranny.
Benjamin Franklin, albeit overquoted, once answered
an inquiry on the nature of the state: "A democracy, ma-
dam, if you can keep it."
Sadly, much of the democracy has gone to hell late-
ly. With little regard for the law, Nixon and other recent
presidents have secretly or openly misused funds, fought
wars, abused government agencies and violated the peo-
ple's constitutionally-guaranteed rights of with in an
alarmingly carefree manner,
The 37th President admittedly knew of and engaged
in the obstruction of justice from June 1972 to last week
when the final "bombshell" tape transcript became
public.
IT IS TIME FOR the era of devil-may-care Presidents to
end.
Richard Nixon must be prosecuted to the very fullest
extent of the law; he must receive treatment no better or
worse than any other citizen. If he is acquitted, he should
be praised for his innocence. But if he is guilty in a court
of law, he should be punished.
No man or woman can be placed above the law,
and in the midst of understandable forgiveness, we must
not inadvertently jeopardize that essential American
doctrine.
It has taken enough abuse of late.
-DAN BIDDLE

*

*

*

The man
By JOHN KAHLER
JT FINALLY happened. Richard Nixon ended
his long and persistent public career in total
humiliation, bowing out on national television.
Few will regret his passing.
I was at 420 Maynard Thursday night, along
with the rest of the Daily staffers, as we
gathered around a rented TV to watch the
historic announcement. Walter Cronkite w a s
potting the skills at time-wasteing he had learged
during the moon shots to good use on CBS,
and Dan Rather was waxing poetic in his des-
criptions of Nixon's final hours.
Finally, Nixon came on, said what he had to
say, and faded from the screen. That was the
occasion for the popping open of champagne
bottles and cheers that America was finally rid
of an evil influence.
But somehow the celebration seemed to me
to be in bad taste, a bit like showing up drunk
at a relative's funeral. What we had witnessed
that night was a national tragedy, more fitting
for sober reflection than celebration.
PERHAPS IT HAS been forgotten in these days
of Watergate, but in 1972 the American people
were given a clear choice, and 62 per cent of
them chose Richard Nixon as their president.
Unless we are to assume foul play, this repre-
sents an overwhelming mandate of support.
Any elected president should not have to be
forced into resignation. But Richard Nixon was
forced to resign, and indeed deserved more in
punishment than he is likely to get.
Nixon was given a mandate of the people's
trust in 1972. The American people counted on
Richard Nixon to do what would be best for them
in his conduct of the Presidency.

But Richard Nixon chose to interpret this
mandate as a license to do whatever he pleased.
He confused the will of the people with his own
will, and anyone who opposed him was pictured
as trying to overturn the election of 1972.
I ONCE WAS a Nixon supporter. Back in
Sandusky in 1968, I worked with the local Repub-
licans to help get out the abundant Nixon votes
in Sanilac County. I was not really certain about
the issues as represented by Nixon, but I was
certain that I did not want Hubert Humphrey as
President.
Coming to Ann Arbor changed a 1st of things
for me. One of the first beliefs I dropped was
that the only decent people in the world are
Republican. McGovern was my man ins 1972, and
my joy at seeing Nixon's slow destruction was
equal to anyone's. But for all that I find that I
still have not been able to shake my basic small
town American patriotism, and it tends to show
through at times.
Richard Nixon betrayed me, and all other pa-
triotic Americans. The people were but tools
in his quest for power. "The American is like
a child in the family," Nixon once said. If the
people complain too much, throw them a biscuit
in the form of a foreign policy triumph. If college
students are murdered, prisoners gunned down
or Air Force pilots lost as a restlt of Nixon
policies, it can be excused as being in the
national interest.
BUT RICHARD NIXON is gone now, hiding in
San Clemente, hopefully never to be heard from
again. Gerald Ford, a man I trust about as far
as I could throw him is president now.
Maybe Ford and his values can be trusted.
For the good of the country, that had better be
So.

*

*

*

The office
By BILL HEENAN
pRESIDENTS WERE once heroes, symbols of
national ideals, and the guardians of Amer-
ica's well-being. Without crown jewels or royal
scepters, we have only the personal histories
of these great men to supply a mythical richness
to our political culture.
However, President Nixon's resignation has cut
the idealistic guts out of a blind confidence in

the chief executive, leaving the people scramb-
ling for another symbol. Whether by scandal
or assassin's bullet; the president's fate exacts
an enormous psychological price.
"God, I can't believe it; I just can't," stam-
mered a middle-aged woman intrenched in front
of her TV. Her husband shrugged his should-
ers and took even bigger sips from his can
of Bud.
Middle-class households and politicians alike
expressed their sense of loss by either muse
See REQUIEM, Page 5

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