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August 8, 1974

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Notes from another country:

(1) I think an under-rated factor in regard to the shape of contemporary politics is how many movement conservatives remember Nixon being driven out of office as some sort of nefarious liberal conspiracy, as opposed to a well-deserved ending to the political career of the most crooked man to occupy the Oval Office prior to January 20, 2017. They decided they were never going to let something like that happen again, and here we are 45 years later.

(2) Nixon’s approval ratings collapsed between the spring and early fall of 1973 — that is, the collapse was complete nearly a full year before his resignation — and never bounced back from the high 20s. In other words, the House judiciary committee’s impeachment proceedings had no discernible effect on Nixon’s political support. (The Senate investigative hearings in the spring and summer of 1973 seem to have already done as much damage as could be done via public legislative proceedings).

(3) Unlike almost all other prominent Republican figures, Ronald Reagan continued to support Nixon right through his resignation, claiming that the whole thing was a trumped-up scandal, and that the Democrats had done much worse. Rick Perlstein has all the details in his essential The Invisible Bridge. (The title of that book comes from the following bit of sage advice bestowed on Nixon by Nikita Khrushchev: “If the people believe there’s an imaginary river out there, you don’t tell them there’s no river there. You build an imaginary bridge over the imaginary river.” Reagan followed that counsel far better than his predecessor did).

(4) Neil Young wrote this song on his tour bus, immediately after watching Nixon’s resignation speech:

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