Advertisement

Goodman on Richard Nixon

May 03, 1988

I wholeheartedly agree with Goodman's commentary in which she courageously states that Nixon should be refused admission into the circle of respected American "elder statesmen" until he demonstrates that he has been rehabilitated by admitting guilt, or expressing genuine repentence, for what Goodman call his "attack on the Constitution that we call Watergate."

History has yet to fully assess Nixon's role in the subversion of the rule of law in this country. Nixon's resignation from office preempted congressional impeachment proceedings that would have publicly exposed his malfeasance in a most humiliating fashion. His subsequent pardon by former President Gerald Ford then allowed him to escape criminal prosecution, which probably would have resulted in his conviction. Thus, despite his impeachable "high crimes and misdemeanors," Nixon was able to avoid any real liability for what he did, except for whatever embarrassment his resignation may have caused him.

The failure to impeach and prosecute Nixon was a disaster for the rule of law in the U.S. The lesson that high public officials can break the law and escape any real liability was not lost on the Reagan Administration, and may have emboldened Ronald Reagan and his Iran-Contra "cabal of zealots" to engage in the wrongful and unconstitutional conduct that led to the Tower Commission investigation and the congressional hearings last year, as well as the recent indictments of former White House aides Oliver North and John Poindexter.

If Reagan does pardon North and Poindexter, the rule of law in this country will be all but dead. The legacy left by Nixon and Reagan will be that high executive officials can break the law and subvert the Constitution with impunity.

WILLIAM BOTHAMLEY

San Diego

Advertisement
Los Angeles Times Articles
|
|
|