Tuesday, November 13 , 2018, 9:48 pm | Fair 55º


Mark Shields: Donald Trump Is No Richard Nixon

In just 13 days in October 1973, Washington endured a series of seismic political shocks.

On Oct. 10, Vice President Spiro Agnew — having pleaded guilty in a federal courthouse in Baltimore to failure to pay taxes on thousands of dollars in bribes he, as both Maryland governor and vice president, had shaken down from businessmen — resigned his office.

On Oct. 20, President Richard Nixon ordered Attorney General Elliot Richardson to fire special prosecutor Archibald Cox for rejecting Nixon’s offer of a synopsis of the 64 White House tapes the U.S. Supreme Court had ordered him to turn over instead of the actual tapes as part of the Watergate scandal investigation.

Richardson and Deputy Attorney General William Ruckelshaus refused to fire Cox, and both men resigned. Then Solicitor General Robert Bork, the next in command, did fire Cox.

On Oct. 23, House Democrats, following the lead of House Majority Leader Tip O’Neill, D-Mass., decided that the House Judiciary Committee would begin impeachment hearings on Nixon.

On May 9, 2017, President Donald Trump fired FBI Director James Comey, who was investigating Russian efforts to sabotage the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign of Democrat Hillary Clinton and to aid Republican Trump’s campaign.

Recently, Trump’s staff and family reportedly have persuaded him, for the moment, not to fire Robert Mueller, the former FBI director who was appointed, in the wake of the Comey firing, as special counsel by the Justice Department to investigate Russian interference in the 2016 campaign.

Immediately, all sorts of semi-sensible people suddenly discovered some striking similarities between Trump and Nixon. Such semi-sensible people are absolutely wrong.

Donald Trump is, believe me, no Richard Nixon, who, after four years of active duty in World War II as an officer in the Navy, served for 14 years in the House of Representatives and the Senate and eight years as President Dwight Eisenhower’s vice president — all of which may have made him America’s most prepared president.

Nixon, whose character defects and serious crimes have been amply documented, was a constant reader of history and biographies. He immersed himself in policy and in politics.

His record of major achievements is nothing short of spectacular.

In 1969, when sparks from a passing train ignited the oil debris on the surface of Ohio’s Cuyahoga River, the river, which feeds into Lake Erie, actually caught fire. Under Nixon, the Environmental Protection Agency was created and the Clean Water Act became law.

To guarantee that American workplaces would be safer and healthier for American workers, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration was created. Social Security benefits were indexed to protect seniors against inflation.

Only one president ever championed a federally guaranteed minimum income (which would translate to $37,404 annually in 2017 dollars) for every family with dependent children under a plan that would have required job training for parents and child care for children. Democrats shortsightedly opposed it. All of this was the result of a Republican, Nixon.

Only one president has ever made his “No. 1 domestic priority” a national health plan that would have required employers to offer insurance with standard benefits — including dental care, mental health care and a free choice of hospitals and doctors. Under this radical proposal of Nixon’s, after three years employers would have been required to pay 76 percent of the insurance premiums.

Nixon, who had broken with GOP isolationists to support the Marshall Plan and NATO, was more liberal than Eisenhower on civil rights and supported the historic civil rights bills of the 1950s and ’60s. He negotiated arms limitations with Moscow and opened U.S. relations with China.

It’s pretty clear: Donald Trump is definitely no Richard Nixon.

Mark Shields is one of the most widely recognized political commentators in the United States. The former Washington Post editorial columnist appears regularly on CNN, on public television and on radio. Click here to contact him, or click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made using a credit card, Apple Pay or Google Pay, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments and a mailing address for checks.

Thank you for your vital support.

Become a Noozhawk Supporter

First name
Last name
Select your monthly membership
Or choose an annual membership

Payment Information

Membership Subscription

You are enrolling in . Thank you for joining the Hawks Club.

Payment Method

Pay by Credit Card:

Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover
One click only, please!

Pay with Apple Pay or Google Pay:

Noozhawk partners with Stripe to provide secure invoicing and payments processing.
You may cancel your membership at any time by sending an email to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.