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The left's new Nixon

July 6, 2007 |  9:12 am

The candidates seem to have worn themselves out marching in all those July 4th parades, and many are out of sight today, which offers the opportunity for more than the usual amount of idle speculation. To wit: Is Dick Cheney poised to become, for this generation’s liberals, the bogeyman that Richard Nixon became for the last generation’s lefties?

The question crops up in the wake of a new book by James Reston Jr., “The Conviction of Richard Nixon,” a memoir of the famous David Frost interviews with Nixon 30 years ago; and a new video posted by director Robert Greenwald on the Impeach Cheney website.

Nixon’s sins have been pretty well established by history, and his decisions in prosecuting the Vietnam War, disdain for the “flower children” and antiwar movement, and his role in the Watergate cover-up provided plenty of fodder for the left to nurture its hatred. Some have argued that President Ford’s pardon of Nixon cheated the nation of its chance to establish Nixon’s guilt, though others argue that the pardon – as Ford said he intended – saved the nation from a prolonged political distraction. Regardless, Nixon-haters didn’t get their pound of flesh, which has rankled them ever since.

Shift to the present: Cheney’s role in lobbying for the invasion and occupation of Iraq is the subject of protracted analysis and speculation by the left (among others). George W. Bush sits in the Oval Office but to many on the left, Cheney pulls the strings. And the recent commutation of Scooter Libby’s prison sentence is a close enough parallel to invite this mulling (we told you it’s slow out on the trail today) over Cheney’s role as the liberals’ red flag.

While the Impeach Cheney folks have as much chance of success as, say, Sam Brownback does of packing the moving van for 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, the movement–-14 U.S. Representatives have signed on–-reflects the deep bitterness on the left toward the vice president.

And at this stage of the White House tenure, it’s all about legacy.

--Scott Martelle