Should Nixon's body be exhumed and buried in a landfill?

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Should Nixon's body be exhumed and buried in a landfill?

Postby exploited » Wed Sep 16, 2015 8:03 pm

http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-21768668

Declassified tapes of President Lyndon Johnson's telephone calls provide a fresh insight into his world. Among the revelations - he planned a dramatic entry into the 1968 Democratic Convention to re-join the presidential race. And he caught Richard Nixon sabotaging the Vietnam peace talks... but said nothing.

After the Watergate scandal taught Richard Nixon the consequences of recording White House conversations none of his successors has dared to do it. But Nixon wasn't the first.

He got the idea from his predecessor Lyndon Johnson, who felt there was an obligation to allow historians to eventually eavesdrop on his presidency.

"They will provide history with the bark off," Johnson told his wife, Lady Bird.

The final batch of tapes released by the LBJ library covers 1968, and allows us to hear Johnson's private conversations as his Democratic Party tore itself apart over the question of Vietnam.

Tens of thousands of anti-war protesters clashed with Mayor Richard Daley's police, determined to force the party to reject Johnson's Vietnam war strategy.

As they taunted the police with cries of "The whole world is watching!" one man in particular was watching very closely.

Lyndon Baines Johnson was at his ranch in Texas, having announced five months earlier that he wouldn't seek a second term.

The president was appalled at the violence and although many of his staff sided with the students, and told the president the police were responsible for "disgusting abuse of police power," Johnson picked up the phone, ordered the dictabelt machine to start recording and congratulated Mayor Daley for his handling of the protest.

The president feared the convention delegates were about to reject his war policy and his chosen successor, Hubert Humphrey.

So he placed a series of calls to his staff at the convention to outline an astonishing plan. He planned to leave Texas and fly into Chicago.

He would then enter the convention and announce he was putting his name forward as a candidate for a second term.

It would have transformed the 1968 election. His advisers were sworn to secrecy and even Lady Bird did not know what her husband was considering.

On the White House tapes we learn that Johnson wanted to know from Daley how many delegates would support his candidacy. LBJ only wanted to get back into the race if Daley could guarantee the party would fall in line behind him.
They also discussed whether the president's helicopter, Marine One, could land on top of the Hilton Hotel to avoid the anti-war protesters.

Daley assured him enough delegates would support his nomination but the plan was shelved after the Secret Service warned the president they could not guarantee his safety.

The idea that Johnson might have been the candidate, and not Hubert Humphrey, is just one of the many secrets contained on the White House tapes.

They also shed light on a scandal that, if it had been known at the time, would have sunk the candidacy of Republican presidential nominee, Richard Nixon.

By the time of the election in November 1968, LBJ had evidence Nixon had sabotaged the Vietnam war peace talks - or, as he put it, that Nixon was guilty of treason and had "blood on his hands".

But by the time the tapes were declassified in 2008 all the main protagonists had died, including Wheeler.

Now, for the first time, the whole story can be told.

It begins in the summer of 1968. Nixon feared a breakthrough at the Paris Peace talks designed to find a negotiated settlement to the Vietnam war, and he knew this would derail his campaign.

He therefore set up a clandestine back-channel involving Anna Chennault, a senior campaign adviser.

At a July meeting in Nixon's New York apartment, the South Vietnamese ambassador was told Chennault represented Nixon and spoke for the campaign. If any message needed to be passed to the South Vietnamese president, Nguyen Van Thieu, it would come via Chennault.

In late October 1968 there were major concessions from Hanoi which promised to allow meaningful talks to get underway in Paris - concessions that would justify Johnson calling for a complete bombing halt of North Vietnam. This was exactly what Nixon feared.

Chennault was despatched to the South Vietnamese embassy with a clear message: the South Vietnamese government should withdraw from the talks, refuse to deal with Johnson, and if Nixon was elected, they would get a much better deal.
So on the eve of his planned announcement of a halt to the bombing, Johnson learned the South Vietnamese were pulling out.

He was also told why. The FBI had bugged the ambassador's phone and a transcripts of Anna Chennault's calls were sent to the White House. In one conversation she tells the ambassador to "just hang on through election".

Johnson was told by Defence Secretary Clifford that the interference was illegal and threatened the chance for peace.

In a series of remarkable White House recordings we can hear Johnson's reaction to the news.

In one call to Senator Richard Russell he says: "We have found that our friend, the Republican nominee, our California friend, has been playing on the outskirts with our enemies and our friends both, he has been doing it through rather subterranean sources. Mrs Chennault is warning the South Vietnamese not to get pulled into this Johnson move."

He orders the Nixon campaign to be placed under FBI surveillance and demands to know if Nixon is personally involved.

When he became convinced it was being orchestrated by the Republican candidate, the president called Senator Everett Dirksen, the Republican leader in the Senate to get a message to Nixon.

The president knew what was going on, Nixon should back off and the subterfuge amounted to treason.


Given his role in Watergate, as well as his obvious and undeniable act of treason that cost thousands of lives, should Nixon be exhumed from his Presidential grave, posthumously stripped of all honors and titles, and buried in a landfill?

I can't actually think of a good reason why not.
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Re: Should Nixon's body be exhumed and buried in a landfill?

Postby Philly » Wed Sep 16, 2015 8:20 pm

No. In modern times, war crimes, crimes against the public and maybe even crimes against humanity have been synonymous with the office of president.

I'm watching the GOP debate right now and already see a lack of quality, self respecting leaders putting themselves out there to be President. Wouldn't help to put ex-president bodies in landfills.

Also, Nixon was kind of awesome outside of the totally deplorable scumbag piece of shit side of him. Watergate wasn't even a big deal IMO. The treason that cost American lives is only notable because he stepped out of line when he wasn't president yet. While in office, you betray your people all the time for the good of the union, or at least your own distorted concept of that.
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Re: Should Nixon's body be exhumed and buried in a landfill?

Postby exploited » Wed Sep 16, 2015 8:23 pm

Philly wrote:No. In modern times, war crimes, crimes against the public and maybe even crimes against humanity have been synonymous with the office of president.

I'm watching the GOP debate right now and already see a lack of quality, self respecting leaders putting themselves out there to be President. Wouldn't help to put ex-president bodies in landfills.

Also, Nixon was kind of awesome outside of the totally deplorable scumbag piece of shit side of him. Watergate wasn't even a big deal IMO. The treason that cost American lives is only notable because he stepped out of line when he wasn't president yet. While in office, you betray your people all the time for the good of the union, or at least your own distorted concept of that.


He contacted the enemy and convinced them to pull out of peace talks so he could give them a better deal. That isn't politics as usual, that is just basic, undeniable treason. This isn't the same thing as Presidents having to make hard calls - it is a Presidential candidate doing something that killed thousands.
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Re: Should Nixon's body be exhumed and buried in a landfill?

Postby Philly » Wed Sep 16, 2015 8:29 pm

exploited wrote:
Philly wrote:No. In modern times, war crimes, crimes against the public and maybe even crimes against humanity have been synonymous with the office of president.

I'm watching the GOP debate right now and already see a lack of quality, self respecting leaders putting themselves out there to be President. Wouldn't help to put ex-president bodies in landfills.

Also, Nixon was kind of awesome outside of the totally deplorable scumbag piece of shit side of him. Watergate wasn't even a big deal IMO. The treason that cost American lives is only notable because he stepped out of line when he wasn't president yet. While in office, you betray your people all the time for the good of the union, or at least your own distorted concept of that.


He contacted the enemy and convinced them to pull out of peace talks so he could give them a better deal. That isn't politics as usual, that is just basic, undeniable treason. This isn't the same thing as Presidents having to make hard calls - it is a Presidential candidate doing something that killed thousands.

Lyndon Johnson pretty much randomly had a US military vessel invade Vietnam with the intention of it being sunken and its crew killed so he could say we were provoked and use it as a pretense to send thousands more Americans over there to die. You wanna blame Nixon for getting Americans killed to further his political interests, he's not alone. The unique thing about his crime is that he wasn't President so he had no business pulling that shit.

Lyndon Johnson was also awesome BTW.
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Re: Should Nixon's body be exhumed and buried in a landfill?

Postby exploited » Wed Sep 16, 2015 8:31 pm

Philly wrote:
exploited wrote:
Philly wrote:No. In modern times, war crimes, crimes against the public and maybe even crimes against humanity have been synonymous with the office of president.

I'm watching the GOP debate right now and already see a lack of quality, self respecting leaders putting themselves out there to be President. Wouldn't help to put ex-president bodies in landfills.

Also, Nixon was kind of awesome outside of the totally deplorable scumbag piece of shit side of him. Watergate wasn't even a big deal IMO. The treason that cost American lives is only notable because he stepped out of line when he wasn't president yet. While in office, you betray your people all the time for the good of the union, or at least your own distorted concept of that.


He contacted the enemy and convinced them to pull out of peace talks so he could give them a better deal. That isn't politics as usual, that is just basic, undeniable treason. This isn't the same thing as Presidents having to make hard calls - it is a Presidential candidate doing something that killed thousands.

Lyndon Johnson pretty much randomly had a US military vessel invade Vietnam with the intention of it being sunken and its crew killed so he could say we were provoked and use it as a pretense to send thousands more Americans over there to die. You wanna blame Nixon for getting Americans killed to further his political interests, he's not alone. The unique thing about his crime is that he wasn't President so he had no business pulling that shit.

Lyndon Johnson was also awesome BTW.


Lyndon Johnson was also elected President when he decided to do that.

Nixon was not.

This is a fundamental difference that you seem to want to brush aside. Or not brush aside, but refuse to admit it defeats your argument.
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Re: Should Nixon's body be exhumed and buried in a landfill?

Postby Philly » Wed Sep 16, 2015 8:34 pm

It's the one I keep bringing up. But you're really basing your argument on the emotional appeal of how morally reprehensible Nixon's actions were, not the fact that he overstepped his authority.
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Re: Should Nixon's body be exhumed and buried in a landfill?

Postby exploited » Wed Sep 16, 2015 8:40 pm

Philly wrote:It's the one I keep bringing up. But you're really basing your argument on the emotional appeal of how morally reprehensible Nixon's actions were, not the fact that he overstepped his authority.


The issue being that you're simply wrong. Nixon committed an act that, had it been brought to light, would have led to his immediate and unconditional defeat. It also was declared treason by the sitting President, the same conclusion drawn by any reasonable historical observer. Both of these facts defeat whatever point it is that you're trying to make ("If the non-President does it, it's legal"). The moral element is significant but not even necessary to proving my point.
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Re: Should Nixon's body be exhumed and buried in a landfill?

Postby Philly » Wed Sep 16, 2015 11:16 pm

Never said it wasn't illegal. But lots of presidents have done terrible illegal things both in and out of office. We don't desecrate their graves and put their corpses in land fills.

Instead of asking about Nixon specifically, let's come up with a general proposal about posthumous actions taken against the remains of deceased former presidents. Here's just a draft which you can change to make it more workable. As is I find it absurd, but you could probably soften it quite a bit with minor rhetorical tweeks:

"An appointed non-partisan panel of historian, constitutional scholars, and ethicists should be tasked with reviewing the life and tenures of all deceased former presidents to determine which ones can be confidently said to have betrayed their country and countrymen, violated domestic, international, or "higher laws"(crimes against humanity), and knowingly caused deplorable harm to the security/interests of the United States or its people. Upon completion of the panel's review, those presidents found to have met the "Nixonian Standard" introduced by exploited, will have their graves desecrated, and their remains reburied in a suiting landfill,"

I think it's a highly excessive proposal to exact posthumous and ultimately symbolic punishment upon dead corpses. A proposal whose result would be to traumatize and disturb any living family of the president in question, as well as to create a sort of "dunce corner" for the bodily remains of presidents who did terrible things, so we can quickly reference the "Is his body now burred in a landfill?" litmus test to determine which presidents served the office while polluting of the United States with licentious turpitude in ways that rise to the level of behavior that is illegal, treasonous, morally reprehensible and harmful to the American People with intentional malice - and of course, which ones did not

Then, for example, if you and I were having a spirited argument about the Presidency of Calvin Coolidge, I might argue that he was a terrible president whose incompetence, laziness, and complete lack of (in fact no interest in) governing vision, added up for a presidency most noteworthy for ensuring that the imminent Great Depression arrived as strong an as unprepared for as it could be, and that not once did he put forward ideas to improve, enrich, or fortify the seemingly good economic hand he had been dealt in the roaring 20's. He instead just let his corrupt friends make use of their nepotist power within the executive branch to steal and swindle, with Harding either asleep at the wheel or intentionally looking the other way. I'd tell you he's a terrible president who doesn't deserve any kind of honorable final laying place for his remains But then you'd remind me that while the panel assigned to this assessment found Harding to be a harmful, corrupt president with no regard for his sworn duty to protect the American people and their welfare from all threats both foreign and domestic, he did however not break the the law (allow him his corrupt friend to fleece the people, but refraining from such things himself), his horrible misuse of the roaring 20's economy causes terrible harm to America and the American people, but as he lacked any type of vision, was largely incompetent, and was mainly just parroting that lassez faire shit that other pre-depression Republican presidents seemed to be doing ok with, harm was not caused with malice and intent. Ergo, Harding's grave remains in tact, in the same graveyard and burial plot he was first placed to rest, over 3.6 miles from the nearest landfill.

And through using such a reference, we will be able to give perspective to our critiques and debates about former presidents, understanding that absolute failure in the job, nor great success in the job, disqualify you from ending up in the landfill or avoiding it altogether.

With all of that in mind, I'd be happy do just have a peer-reviewed study of sort of similar to the appointed panel, which would go through several round of approval, appeal, and reconsideration before we finally have a list of which presidents were and which were not horrible monsters who betrayed their mother land to whom they swore loyalty and service. The results of this study could simply be available for free as educatonal literature and online. No corpses will be moved to landfills, rather by attaining "baddie" status in the study's results, we consider the the same symbolic sentiment of desecrating his grave. The legacy of the president is now given a framework of rules, though the finer pointers are still open for discussion. Under this plan, Nixon probably ends up as one of the "baddies" when the results of the study are release, but they followed a fair process to label him as such, gave him a fair evaluation that was uniform with the assessments all deceased presidents had to hold up to, and he certainly won't be alone at the bad kid table.


This is the far better, though still bizarre and not really good ideas, but it's one I could live with.

Now getting back to the worst idea: yours, which is to simply single Nixon out for scrutiny, find him unquestionably a "bad guy" off of two pieces of information, without any type of review or counterpoints offered so that context and background may be provided, and move forward to immediately declare he should be exhumed and placed in a landfill This is the worst idea because it is...
1 Inconsistent in Choosing a Subject - We never do this to the remains of other presidents and your reason for targetting Nixon is that you really dislike him and the LBJ treason stuff is a pretty insane story right now that isn't getting nearly enough attention. Simply not a good enough mechanism to decide whose life stands trial before ex as he, unchecked, prescribes their fate as both judge and jury.
2. Prescribes a punishment that is petty, uncouth, and basically just sick - Desecrating graves of our former leaders is something barbarians would do to assert their dominance over us, and that our system of self governance has be ousted in favor of a system where our invading conquers have become our rules. So not classy.
3. Prescribes a punishment that shuts down open discussion of our history - One we put the decomposed remains of President Nixon into the landfill, that's kind of going to shut the book on any further understanding future historians and writers may one glean about a very mysterious, complex and interesting man who happened to be the president of the United States, We should not shut down discussions, even about bad guys.

So finally, my proposal: We do not desecrate Mr. Nixon's grade. We do not appoint a panel or commission an academic study to determine every former president's level of evil-ness individually and use that to label them as so, or to desecrate their graves. Instead we continue to have debates about our historical figures - ones in which we offer no reverence nor demonization of the subject, acknowledging that we will find terrible things about many great historical figures, but that should not slam the door shut on further striving to understand and learn about them.
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Re: Should Nixon's body be exhumed and buried in a landfill?

Postby exploited » Thu Sep 17, 2015 6:39 am

After all that, you still haven't accounted for the fact that a non-President committed what can only be described as treason. Those two points together vastly overwhelm any of the other examples you've made. This wasn't a sitting President, elected by the people, and therefore given a great deal of leeway, and it wasn't simple incompetence or law breaking. It was treason, that resulted in thousands of deaths, that deliberately interfered with the office of the Presidency, and also involved passing confidential information to a wartime enemy.

The rest of this stuff about shutting down conversation or historical debate is nonsense and a red herring.

Now, I admit the part about exhuming his corpse and burying it in a landfill was just a tad over the line. However I am totally serious about stripping him of titles and making it widely known and officially acknowledged what he did. If you haven't noticed, the Executive Branch is a tad bit out of control, and that is largely because of your systems complete unwillingness to hold them accountable. Once you become President, apparently all is forgiven, and nothing you do can really be held against you. Wonder why their is abuse?
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Re: Should Nixon's body be exhumed and buried in a landfill?

Postby Philly » Thu Sep 17, 2015 7:48 am

What title would you strip from this dead man? Former President? That wouldn't be punishing Nixon, it would just be an attempt to distort history.

The fundamental disconnect between our perspectives is that I would say this should be noted in the history books, in a way that characterizes how ruthless and callous Nixon was, to criminally betray America to a foreign enemy in order to help him become president of that same America. It's also less relevant but still interesting to note that the war destroyed LBJ yet the American people were actually duped into voting for a guy who was willing to commit high crimes behind the scenes to keep the war from ending.

I don't want to dig up his corpse. I don't want to change his title (still don't know what you mean by that) and I also don't want to tunnel vision on this incident to the point that we ignore the rest of Nixon's whole political career, which is an important part of modern history.

It sounds like you are extremely frustrated that you can't punish Nixon for this because he's already dead, so you are just grasping at straws for something to do and say "take that!"

This will make its way into the mainstream historical narrative eventually. It takes time for some reason. We've known that Thomas Jefferson raped his slaves since like forever but it was t really acknowledged in mainstream history til more recently. Other than that nothing to be done.
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