By Patrick J. Buchanan, Editor, The American Conservative
Reviewed by Francis P. Sempa, Contributing Editor
On January 9, 2013, the 100th anniversary of Richard Nixon's birth, former Nixon speechwriter Patrick J. Buchanan spoke about the accomplishments and legacy of the 37th President. Nixon's defining characteristic, according to Buchanan, was his perseverance which he repeatedly demonstrated throughout his political career.
Buchanan agreed with former Senator Bob Dole that the second-half of the 20th century was the "Age of Nixon." From the controversial Hiss case, through the Eisenhower presidency, the turbulent 1960s, Nixon's consequential presidency, and his prolific post-presidential writings, Nixon either was at the center of events or providing erudite commentary on world affairs.
Buchanan reflected on Nixon's foreign policy accomplishments: ending the Vietnam War with honor and bringing home American POWs; negotiating and signing the first substantive nuclear arms control agreements with the Soviet Union (SALT I and the ABM Treaty); the opening to China; and the strategic airlift to Israel during the Yom Kippur War.
Nixon's foreign policy legacy also extended to subsequent presidential administrations that were populated with public servants who got their start under Nixon. He completed that legacy with nine timely and well-written post-presidential books on foreign policy.
The speech noted and derided Nixon's liberal critics, but failed to mention the conservative critics of Nixon who viewed his policy of Detente, including his pursuit of arms control, as a weakening of the U.S. position vis-a-vis the Soviet Union.
Buchanan concluded that "Richard Nixon shared the action and passion of his time. Again and again, he came back from woundings, he came back from defeats." That, after all, is the essence of perseverance.