Skip to comments.Et tu, Brute...
Posted on 06/18/2009 9:31:01 AM PDT by Taft in '52
Et tu, BruteShortly after becoming director of the Nixon Library in 2007, Dr. Timothy Naftali invited the nations press in to witness the removal of the Nixon Librarys Watergate exhibit. Declaring, I cant run a shrine, he gleefully presided over the destruction of the exhibit, which resulted in numerous articles reporting that the whitewash of Watergate was over at the Nixon Library.
Dr. Naftali went on to assert, The challenge is to present a controversial, traumatic and important story in a fair and historically accurate way. By any measure, he has failed his own definition of success. Two years later, theres still no Watergate exhibit. And nothing points to that failure more persuasively than his hosting of John Dean at the Nixon Library.
Allowing John Dean to appear, without any counterbalance on the program, is not fair. Neither does it serve historical accuracy. It is, to put it charitably, nothing more than a cheap publicity stunt, unworthy of any presidential library operated by the National Archives.
When the Library opened in 1990, the Watergate exhibit was, of course, the focus of much scrutiny. Those who found fault focused on the fact that the exhibit didnt consist of a lengthy mea culpa. They were accurate; it didnt.
Instead, it sought to share with visitors President Nixons point of view on Watergate. When I gave the former President my first draft of the exhibit text, I wrote in my cover memo, quoting Six Crises, It is not my purpose to relate the complete story. What I shall try to do in these pages is to tell it as I experienced it.
Thats what the Watergate exhibit sought to accomplish. It wasnt a whitewash; it was, in fact, the single largest exhibit in the entire facility. Stretching along the length of a 65-foot long room, it covered everything, from the break-in through the resignation, including the 18 ½ minute gap and the charges about back taxes and improvements to the Nixon homes in San Clemente and Key Biscayne.
President Nixon saw Watergate as his last campaign. As the introduction to the exhibit explained it, RN viewed Watergate as the fight for his political life against those who sought to reverse the stunning mandate he had received from the voters on November 7, 1972.
The exhibit never pretended to be an objective study of Watergate, as if such a thing was then or is even yet possible. Yet, the critics howled, as if sharing President Nixons view of events in the Library he and his supporters built was a mortal sin. And while the exhibit came under criticism for its point of view, I was pleased that from the day it opened until the day it was removed, not a single error of fact or omission was found in the exhibit. We had constructed a thorough, complete, and factually accurate presentation.
Shortly after Dr. Naftali took over as director, I briefly corresponded with him in an effort to make him aware of the background behind the creation of the original Watergate exhibit and to suggest that the exhibit itself was an artifact. It was quickly obvious that he had no interest in anything I had to share with him. He was clearly on a mission, not to set a new tone, as he claimed at the time, but rather to perversely use the Nixon Library as a forum for denigrating the Nixon legacy.
By hosting John Dean without offering any balance, some might conclude that Dr. Naftali is practicing that for which he criticized the Nixon Library presenting a one-sided version of events. But the truth is far more disturbing and troubling than that.
Tim Naftali is hiding behind the mantle of scholarship and balance to mask what appears to be his true intention: to use the Nixon Library to diminish Richard Nixon and thus raise his own standing in the academic community. In that sense, he is a kindred spirit of John Dean, who used his position in the Nixon administration to destroy the Nixon administration, thereby securing his own reputation among the so-called political elite.
John Dean has been living off of Watergate for nearly 40 years. Lets hope Tim Naftalis similar effort is much, much shorter.
In the larger scheme of things, Watergate was a rather minor scandal, at least by Washington standards.
The liberals never forgave Richard Nixon for exposing their golden boy Alger Hiss. It was pay back.
Bob Dole was shocked that the Kansas delegation, to the 1996 Convention, unanimously saw Reagan as our role model.
Bob Dole insisted that we all visit the Nixon Library, and we did.
Wish I had the chance to go to the Reagan Library, as well, but I grudgingly must admit that the Nixon Library visit was interesting and worth that time, back then -—
Apparently, not anymore, with this lefty hack in charge!
My sympathy is with the Library here; Even Museums don’t preserve static displays forever.
If people only start finding books/evidence showing one view being showcased, then we have an issue. If however, we have the normal Academic/professional librarian, then don’t be surprised that he/she wants to make a splash bringing out different aspects of life other than the best known. They want to make their mark, not cling to the coat tails of their predecessors.
I’ve had significant professional dealing with University Libraries and professionals within them over the years. This isn’t political behaviour so much as Librarian behaviour. If it had been a static democrat display of such duration, they would have wished to changeit just as much.
From the website:
The Richard Nixon Library & Birthplace opened its doors on July 19, 1990 with celebration, fanfare and more than 50,000 friends and well wishers including Presidents Nixon, Bush, Reagan and Ford and their First Ladies.
It is a privately supported, non-profit institution dedicated to educating the public about the life and times of the 37th President and encouraging interest in history, government and public affairs.
It’s beyond me why they would hire such a left-wing nut to run it and change things to NOT reflect the point of view of the President.
Yes, Nixon was interested in saving his own political hide. But he was also concerned about the lives of millions of Cambodians and Vietnamese who ended up being unnecessarily sacrificed on the leftist altar of "let's prove Vietnam was a failure."
This isn’t just a matter of simply changing a display. When the government took over the library in 2007, the Watergate display was immediately dismantled, and the gallery remained empty for almost two years. The library’s new administrators could have at least retained the old display until they were ready to replace it.
I understand that the new display is finally in place and I am curious to see how it treats the event.
The Reagan Library is FABULOUS!!!
For all of his faults, Richard Nixon did not want any taxpayer money to be used to run his presidential library, so for 17 years after it opened, the Nixon Library could proudly boast that it was the country’s only presidential library that received no public funds whatsoever.
However, its archives did not include Nixon’s presidential papers which, by law, are the property of the federal government. So after many years of negotiations, the Nixon Foundation agreed to turn most of the Nixon Library over to the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) so it could house the presidential papers. Parts of the facility, such as Nixon’s birthplace, are still controlled by the Nixon Foundation, but most of it now belongs to NARA, and the Foundation has no control over who runs it.
Indeed, it is. I've actually been down in the archives section, which are cavernous, and into President Reagan's office.
A few years ago, I was part of a group of Freepers who toured the library.
Dean’s Bio from Wiki: Nixon wasn’t a felon, Dean is.
John Wesley Dean III (born October 14, 1938) was White House Counsel to U.S. President Richard Nixon from July 1970 until April 1973. As White House Counsel, he became deeply involved in events leading up to the Watergate burglaries and the subsequent Watergate scandal cover up, even referred to as “master manipulator of the cover up” by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). He was convicted of multiple felonies as a result of Watergate, and went on to become a key witness for the prosecution, resulting in a reduction of his time in prison.
I am also a bit impressed that Nixon did not fight harder for a recount, after JFK defeated Nixon with dead people’s votes in Chicago and in Texas.
Nixon thought that it would divide the country.
Nixon was not at all perfect, but he was a patriot.
If it is even close to the Truman library, I want to visit it, too. Being thsat close—in the Truman library—to the old fat fender cars and hearing Truman’s voice on the display recordings was one of those things that make goosebumps on goosebumps.
When I was in Kansas City in 1976 for the RNC, I wasn’t able to make it out to the Truman Library, but I did visit Truman’s old stomping grounds at the Muehlebach Hotel, where the GOP had its headquarters.
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