It was November 17, 1973, when then president Richard Nixon disavowed any involvement in the Watergate scandal with the now infamous invocation, “I am not a crook.” In like manner on Thursday Donald Trump had his own “I am not a crook” moment, when he tweeted, “I never directed Michael Cohen to break the law.” Trump’s quote, to be sure, is hardly as memorable as Nixon’s, but it is every bit as disingenuous.
Nixon, like Trump, was also exasperated by the press. The reporting in the Watergate Era was thin on the ground for anything other than Watergate itself, even when the news was justifiably favorable for Nixon. After all, it was Nixon who deftly parlayed his anti-communist credentials in a tightrope walk that opened China and built an historic detente with the Soviet Union. And it was Nixon who presided over the end of the Vietnam war.
So it was with an eerily Nixonian importunity when Thursday Trump whined to Fox News, “I think it’s amazing, because I only get bad news. I only get bad stories. You look at the papers, it’s all nonsense.” Of course, Trump doesn’t have the long list of achievements Nixon had.
Unlike Nixon, Trump has in fact very few accomplishments to crow about at all, and none that required any real talent from him. The few achievements his administration can boast of are largely hijacked from the undertakings of others. The two SCOTUS candidates were confirmed principally due to the partisan efforts and perfidy of the Republican Senate. His tax scam for the wealthy was written and passed by the Republican majority in the House.
All other Donald Trump “achievements” are good old fashioned lies. Despite his claims to the contrary, there is no wall. The good economic and unemployment figures are holdovers from the spectacular achievements of the Obama era. It would not be unfair to think of Trump in terms of Nixon, provided it’s a tawdry, lazy, far less intelligent and far more criminal version of Nixon. Apt or not, one comparison will be inevitable. Like Nixon’s, Trump’s presidency will end in disgrace and infamy.
Robert Harrington is an American expat living in Britain. He is a portrait painter.