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Comparing Bush to Nixon
How a new movie sparked an argument over the abuse of presidential powers
 

What happened
Ron Howard, director of the new film Frost/Nixon, said during a panel discussion Tuesday that President Bush had abused his powers as clearly as Richard Nixon did. FOX News Sunday host Chris Wallace defended Bush, saying that the comparison trivialized Nixon's crimes and unfairly demonized Bush. (U.S. News & World Report online)

What the commentators said
Liberals are determined to "Nixonize" President Bush, said James P. Pinkerton in Fox News online. But Wallace was right—comparing Bush's conduct in office to Nixon's is ridiculous. Nixon abused his office for political gain, while Bush has merely done what he thought necessary to keep the nation safe after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

That's a "wildly unpersuasive" argument, said Steve Benen in The Washington Monthly online. When Bush's administration outed a CIA operative and politicized U.S. Attorney offices, it was "all about political gain." If anything, "it's Wallace who is trivializing Bush's crimes" by suggesting that it was OK for him to abuse his powers because he "meant well."

"Abuse of power is abuse of power," said Roger Simon in Politico, "no matter whether the rationalization is national security or political security." But there's bound to be disagreement whenever discussion turns to Nixon. So get used to arguments about his legacy—with the release of Howard's movie the same week as the unveiling of 200 hours of Nixon White House tapes, "Richard Nixon is hot again."

 

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