* How sad it is to lose a former President. Although I always backed President Richard Nixon's opponents, America has lost a senior foreign-policy expert. Some of the public policy statements he made during the last decade sounded rather reasonable compared with the previous 12 years of conservative Reagan-Bush policies. Back in the early 1970s I was upset with him for not including me on his "enemies list." But time heals old wounds.
* A TV reporter said in reference to President Nixon: "We are all victims of our successes and our strengths are determined by our weaknesses."
President Nixon has always been my hero since I was a Nixonette on the Berkeley campus in the '60s. Since that time, and to this moment, President Nixon has been my inspiration for overcoming life's battles during periods of adversity and personal crisis.
SUSAN LESLIE SMITH
* Richard Nixon's keen mind was clearly demonstrated during a foreign-policy speech he delivered to the Los Angeles World Affairs Council in 1986. Just prior to being introduced to the approximately 1,000 people on hand, he asked that the podium be removed. His aide at the time, John Taylor, now executive director of the Nixon Library & Birthplace, had given me a copy of the text. I noted that it was 21 pages, double-spaced--a probing examination of America's role in the post-nuclear age. The former President spoke extemporaneously, not using a single note.
Towards the end of the talk, Nixon ticked off 12 points outlining a new policy toward the then-Soviet Union. Looking at my text from my place at the end of the dais, I noted that he skipped point 10. Just prior to concluding, he paused and then deftly inserted the missing paragraph. He had included virtually every word in the text of that approximately 40-minute speech!
EDMONDE A. HADDAD
Playa del Rey
\o7 The writer is past president of the Los Angeles World Affairs Council. \f7 * What has caused the media and President Clinton to half-staff the flag for Richard Nixon? Are we to mourn a fallen President, a statesman? True, he has died and we don't say bad things about the dead. But should we distort history?
He was forced to resign the presidency or be impeached. He broke many laws. He betrayed the trust of the American people and the oath of office. He ruined the lives of thousands of citizens with his red-baiting and secret enemies list. He supported fascist dictatorships in Southern Europe and throughout the Third World. He was elected by promising to end the Vietnam War and instead escalated the killing.
Nixon, the law-and-order President, thought like a criminal, authorizing robberies, break-ins and phone taps.
Indeed, when a sacred trust to the American people is trampled by a President, when laws are broken which would have sent a poorer, less important person to jail, then history should record it that way.
* Shortly after Nixon resigned I was in London shopping at a discount store. The sales clerk volunteered the following succinct observation: "Nixon did good things. He had bad character."
* Shortly before he was questioned about his choice in underwear last week, an MTV audience of twentysomethings asked President Clinton what was the most important thing his mother had taught him. He replied, "Never give up."
Perhaps he could have learned that same lesson from Richard Nixon.
No matter what you thought of him or his politics, you could never call Nixon a quitter. Time after time, when pundits had written him off, Nixon was the proverbial phoenix that kept rising from the political ashes.
Who could have imagined that a Republican President, who was forced to resign from office nearly 20 years ago, would be briefing a Democratic President after returning from a recent trip to Russia where he met with top opposition leaders? In some countries, a Nixon figure would have been exiled or shoved off to permanent obscurity. Instead, Nixon fought back and began a long political comeback that would ultimately reward him with an elder-statesman mantle.
Nixon's well-chronicled career had a long history of fighting back and turning insurmountable tides. After losing the 1960 presidential election and then the California gubernatorial election, Nixon weakened only once publicly by proclaiming, "You won't have Dick Nixon to kick around anymore." But even then, after a short stint in private life, he did the impossible--he came back to win the presidency just a few years later.
All of these thoughts occurred to me back in 1983 when Nixon came out of seclusion to begin his public rehabilitation with a speech on foreign policy at Chapman College in Orange. Even then, speaking without notes and a podium, he kept an audience spellbound with a thoughtful analysis of world affairs. He received a standing ovation.