Richard Nixon

Remembering our nation's second-most bizarre president

Jan 9, 2018
President Richard Nixon in the Oval Office, 1972

Probably few are thinking about him today, on what would have been his 105th birthday, but there was a time when everybody thought about him all the time.

For a while, he was one of the most divisive figures in this nation’s history. I never met him, but I was in a room with him more than once. The last time was nearly thirty years ago before a packed crowd at the Detroit Economic Club.

Commentary: Remembering Nixon

Jan 9, 2013

Richard Nixon, who remains probably the most enigmatic and fascinating of modern presidents, would have been 100 years old today. I never exactly met him, though I was in the same room with him twice, and got a nod and a smile.

Thirty years ago, however, I got a surprising and totally unsolicited letter and package from our only president ever to resign from office. In his own handwriting, Nixon wrote:
  “Dear Mr. Lessenberry, in view of the national debate on foreign policy issues, I thought you might like to have a copy of the page proofs of a book on Soviet-American relations which I have just completed.”  Nixon added that he was sending the book to, quote, “a selected number of government officials and opinion leaders.”

This flabbergasted me. I was then a young national correspondent for the Detroit News, specializing in politics and foreign affairs, and frequently traveled abroad. But I was hardly a national opinion leader.

Then it dawned on me why he had sent the letter. Following his resignation, Nixon turned out a steady stream of books, largely self-serving, in an effort to rebuild his reputation.

Commentary: Snyder and Richard Nixon

Jul 9, 2012

The other day, I was thinking that if Governor Snyder wants to leave a lasting mark on this state, he might want to try to be more like Richard Nixon. Now, before you are offended, let me explain.

There were actually two Nixons. The one we tend to remember today is the scheming architect of dirty tricks, the foul-mouthed paranoid who bugged himself, and whose worst utterances were captured forever on the famous White House tapes.