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BEGINNING OF THE END: The Nixon-Clinton-Trump triad of disgrace


Our first Sunday in August with a grilled salmon dinner was sidetracked by my errant quip about the tweet of the day from POTUS 45. The meal was seasoned by my wife’s soft shade of glare.

“When whoever’s left looks back on the beginning of the end of us, that’s the face they’ll see,” my wife said. “Clinton!”

“Hillary?” I said.

My wife glared again. There’s a soft glare and there’s a different shade of glare. Couples know the dark shade of glare I’m talking about. It was that glare.   

“Bill,” she said, followed by a series of expletives typically used to describe the Clintons by Rush Limbaugh’s dittoheads and other deplorables. She continued with civility. “Maybe Nixon started it, but Clinton stripped whatever dignity was left in the office. He was the death knell of our democracy. No Clinton scandal. No Trump.”

“Yep, right you are.” I said. Some people can “agree to disagree,” but I find it’s safer to “agree to agree,” especially when the salmon is exquisite. 

The rest of the evening was glare-free. I digested salmon, and my wife’s Nixon-Clinton-Trump comments the rest of the evening, and remembered a soggy fish sandwich I shared with a friend last fall before the election. In describing his take on two lackluster candidates, he said, “People are going to look back in 20 years and see Bill Clinton as a turning point. The beginning of the end. Why feminists gave him a pass, I’ll never know.” 

The convergence of political opinion of my mostly liberal wife and my more conservative friend around Bill Clinton intrigued me. Clinton’s behavior and lies about sex bothered me, but I didn’t see that moment as an important turning point in the nature of the presidency.

My wife has been an activist all her life, sometimes advocating for the environment, sometimes advocating for peace, and frequently advocating for women’s rights. To Rush Limbaugh and his dittoheads, she is a “Femi-Nazi.”

My friend is a good coach, but what I learned most from observing him was leading a good life requires a disciplined mind, well-trained body and open heart. Those aren’t conservative values. They’ve been facts since Plato wrestled with the meaning of life a few thousand years ago. There is dignity in leading a “good life” across vocations and jobs, even the temp job of POTUS. When we spoke last fall prior to the election, my friend voiced strong disapproval of Hillary Clinton, but he was definitely not wearing a red “MAGA” cap.   

My wife and I discussed the Nixon-Clinton-Trump Triad of Disgrace issue again after sharing a summer vegetable medley on August 9. The anniversary of Nixon’s resignation started me thinking about presidential disgraces. Such disgrace strengthened when POTUS 45 tweeted about strengthening the nuclear arsenal and threatened to rain “fire and fury” on North Korea from his Jersey golf course. How utterly deplorable for our undisciplined, overweight POTUS 45 to tweet a nuclear threat on the anniversary of us dropping the last nuclear bomb (named Fatman, nonetheless) on Nagasaki.   

My wife sighed. “Sure, Ken Starr led a pointless witch hunt, but if Bill had only resigned! No hanging chads! No Bush! No Trump! Obama at least tried to restore…”

We shared a moment of silence.

My wife continued. “America can’t handle decency, let alone dignity, anymore. We’re done. We have reality TV, rebel flags, and this monstrosity in office, and people love it. They just love it.”

There’s the rub. “If Clinton had just resigned.” This coming from a liberal feminist who said the same thing in 1998.

My conservative friend and my liberal, feminist wife may be right. Sure, the Clinton fiasco started as a GOP witch hunt about sex, not a treasonous collusion with Russia. But Bill straight up lied to Congress and us. Had the Democratic Party pushed Bill out the door rather than rally ‘round him, there would have been only a narrow, perilous, path for the kind of carnival barker we’re burdened with today. Keep in mind, despite Watergate tapes and public outrage, Nixon chose to resign only after losing political support in Congress in 1974.

There’s less than a snowball’s chance in hell today’s GOP learns from Nixon and Clinton. For the next 18 months (or until WWIII), they have an historic opportunity to be the first party to bring articles of impeachment on a sitting president from their own party. That would be one small step toward regaining any credibility as the “Party of Lincoln.”

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