The last president who had a plan for protecting American workers from the vicissitudes of the global economy was Richard Nixon, who was in office when foreign steel and foreign cars began seriously competing with domestic products. The most farsighted politician of his generation, Nixon realized that America’s economic hegemony was coming to an end, and was determined to cushion the decline by a) preventing foreign manufacturers from overrunning our markets and b) teaching Americans to live within their new limits. When the United States began running a trade deficit, Nixon tried to reverse the trend with a 10 percent tariff on imported products. After the 1973 Arab Oil Embargo suddenly increased the price of gasoline from 36 cents to 53 cents a gallon (and just as suddenly increased the demand for fuel-efficient German and Japanese cars), Nixon lowered the speed limit to 55 miles an hour and introduced the Corporate Average Fuel Economy law, which gave automakers until 1985 to double their fleetwide fuel efficiency to 27.5 miles per gallon.
Had Nixon survived Watergate, he might have set the nation on a course that emphasized government regulation of the economy, and trade protection as a response to globalism. We might also have preserved more of the manufacturing base necessary for a strong middle class.
Richard Nixon has been the left’s bete-noire since the 1950’s, when he participated in the anti-Communist campaigns. That’s why they pursued him with such gusto during Watergate, and gloated at his downfall.
Now they’re having second thoughts. And, of course, their current hero’s snooping into everyone’s affairs exceeds anything Richard Nixon could have asked for or thought. But that’s what happens when you allow the “venting of the spleen,” as my mother used to put it, drive your agenda. So what other left-wing villain will be rehabilitated someday?