The current election season has provided so many rich targets, from Tony Clifton to The Black Knight that I haven't gotten around to Hillary Clinton. It is a strange year when Clinton is the least interesting candidate in the race.
So let's talk about history. For literary value, no president tops Richard Nixon-- a Shakespearean figure if ever there was one. Nixon was one of the smartest presidents we have had, yet coming from a poor background, he was always raging against whomever he saw as the elites looking down on him. And he really was smarter than they were. He was also a classic Shakespearean tragic figure, undone by the flaws of paranoia and vindictiveness.
That paranoia is perhaps his most well-documented trait. His involvement in politics on the national stage was as a player in the House Un-American Activities Committee, which investigated communist conspiracies, which its members saw everywhere. Some were real, some were not. But, the paranoia was Nixon's driving factor. Speaking of communist conspiracies, everyone watches The Americans, right? It's better than Breaking Bad. There. I said it.
Anyway, that driving paranoia was the same factor that led Nixon to tape every conversation, Watergate, cover-ups, blah, blah, blah. You know the story.
Then there's the famous "enemies list." Nixon never forgot a slight, and never let rationality get in the way of vengeance. While he promised to end the Vietnam War in his 1968 campaign, his actions both in Vietnam and throughout Southeast Asia made his "peace with honor" schtick hard for many to swallow.
Yet, Nixon was also deeply pragmatic when it came to domestic politics. Following on President Johnson's term, Nixon sought not to undo the "Great Society" programs that Johnson created, but to expand them. He fought Ted Kennedy's attempts at a broader healthcare reform, but looked for real compromises with the increasingly liberal Democratic majorities in the House and Senate. In the end, though, whatever involvement he had in domestic policy was overshadowed by the legacy of Watergate, as our Shakespearean figure's paranoia brought him down.
Remember Hillary? This is a post about Hillary. Clinton's animosity towards, and fear of the media is perhaps rivaled only by Nixon. Justified or not, Clinton is about as closed to journalists as any presidential candidate ever. The email scandal, while not actually criminal according to anything released by now, is merely a demonstration of that paranoia. Keeping her own email server was just a rather stupid way of trying to allow her to maintain secrecy, and should remind us all of Nixon.
On foreign policy, while Clinton is unlikely to order secret bombings in Cambodia, it is worth reminding everyone that "neo-conservatism" grew out of disaffected liberals. Despotic regimes that violate the principles of liberalism must be confronted, according to neo-conservative lines of thinking, and it isn't difficult to see strains of that in Clinton and her approach to foreign policy. Is she likely to nuke a country for making jokes about her hand size the way Trump might? No, but her paranoid impulses are not limited to domestic politics.
And then there's the brutality of her political methods. Liberals determined to back her shouldn't forget what she tried to pull in 2008. Florida and Michigan tried to hold their primaries before DNC rules permitted. The DNC ruled that Florida and Michigan should be stripped of their delegates. All of the candidates agreed, and everyone but Clinton even took their names off the ballot in Michigan. Once Clinton fell behind Obama in the delegate count, though, she insisted that Michigan get all of its delegates, and that they go to Clinton even though she was the only major candidate with her name on the ballot. Running without opposition is how Saddam Hussein kept "winning elections." But doesn't it sound like the kind of thing Nixon would do?
So there you have it, folks. 2016 will pit Richard Nixon against Tony Clifton. Keep dreamin', Bernie...