Saturday, August 08, 2009

Nixon, Numbers, and Nemesis

At the beginning of my first mystery I quoted Richard Nixon, who famously said to David Frost in 1977, "When the president does it, that means that it is not illegal." Perhaps it was then that Nixon heard Fate's trap snapping shut, or perhaps it was much earlier.

Today is a significant date in the life of Richard Nixon; in 1968 on this day he was nominated for President at the Miami Beach Republican Convention. He chose Spiro Agnew as his running mate.

Six years later on the same date, August 8th, Nixon announced his resignation, following the revelations of the Watergate investigation, most of which were attributed to the work of Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein of The Washington Post.

Nixon's hubris remains a fascinating topic, and in fact his story reminds me of the Ancient Greek myths. It was the Greeks who originated the term "hubris" about actions that would shame and humiliate the actor at some future date. Naturally, these actions were often the result of extreme pride. While Nixon could have been remembered as a President who improved America's foreign relations and who ended the fighting in Vietnam, he is, despite his assertion that he was "not a crook," generally remembered as one.

The ancient Greeks made those guilty of hubris subject to the punishment of Nemesis; this goddess brought fatal retribution for those who succumbed to pride. One might say Nixon's Nemesis became the Washington Post; or perhaps it was in his mirror all along.

photo link here.

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