Trump Is Nixon’s Heir

Richard Nixon and Donald Trump have a certain common air about them that is hard not to notice.

Journalist Jan Martínez Ahrens says that the reissue of Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward’s book “All the President’s Men,” is a hymn of praise to journalism. It suggests parallels, but also differences, between the current U.S. president and Nixon.

Their stories cover the same ground, although Nixon (1913-1994) and Trump started in different places. Nixon, the Quaker lawyer, lived at the center of the world of politics from the time he was young. First he was a congressman, then a senator, then Dwight Eisenhower’s vice president for eight years. He lost a presidential contest to John F. Kennedy, but went on to win two others, against Hubert Humphrey and George McGovern. During the latter, the scandal that came to be known as Watergate had already started.

Trump is from another planet, to the point that some think he is crazy. He worships fame, money and power, but he had never run for office. Under Nixon, all the rot and decay of the political system were exposed; the politicians knew how to cover them up by means of impeachment proceedings. However, the rot and decay remain, and are an aggravation to many. Because of this, Trump, who ran as the anti-establishment candidate, was able to win in the last election. The Cold War is over, but the savage “War on Drugs” started by Nixon has been rebooted by Trump, in the frenetic digital world today that would have been incomprehensible in 1972.

Nevertheless, Nixon and Trump have a certain common air about them that is hard not to pick up on. Oliver Stone said that Trump and Nixon “resemble each other in their hatred of the press.” * But more than this, they resemble each other in the whisper of impeachment that is hovering over Washington, on the chance that the current president gets on the nerves of the establishment too much.

The Nixonian stench is there, and Trump has a special capacity for self-destruction. In only five months in office, he has managed to become one of the most unpopular presidents, with a disapproval rating outside the U.S. at record levels. Only 49 percent of foreigners polled by the Pew Center have a positive opinion of the U.S.; in 2015, during the Obama administration, it was 64 percent. And the negative opinion has increased from 26 to 39 percent.

In some countries, the decline in positive opinion is quite evident: in Germany, from 86 to 11 percent, in France, from 84 to 14 percent, in the United Kingdom, from 79 to 22 percent and in Spain, from 75 to 7 percent. Respondents found Trump arrogant (75 percent), intolerant (65 percent) and dangerous (62 percent). But the negative image of the president didn’t stain the favorable image foreigners had of people from the U.S. − 58 percent have a positive opinion. Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon are the only countries in which the majority of citizens expressed a negative opinion. U.S. neighbor Canada is not happy either. This is the first time since the Pew Center has been asking Canadians about their opinion of the United States that the positive rating has fallen below 50 percent. Only 43 percent of respondents have a favorable opinion.

Meanwhile, the economy would seem to be weakening. The International Monetary Fund predicts that the world’s largest economy will grow 2.1 percent in 2017, compared with an estimate at the start of the year of 2.3 percent, and far from the administration’s goal of 3 percent. Although the IMF is not all that reliable, perhaps they are right to retract their report from the beginning of the year, citing “significant uncertainties” about trade agreements, investments and immigrants.

*Editor’s note: Although accurately translated, the specific Oliver Stone quote could not be independently verified.

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About Tom Walker 185 Articles
Before I started working as a translator, I had had a long career as a geologist and hydrologist, during the course of which I had the opportunity to work on projects in Mexico, Chile, and Peru. To facilitate my career transition, I completed the Certificate in Spanish-English Translation from the University of California at San Diego. Most of my translation work is in the areas of civil engineering & geology, and medicine & medical insurance. However, I also try to be aware of what’s going on in the world around me, so my translations of current affairs pieces for WA fit right in. I also play piano in a 17-piece jazz big band.

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