Who's the new Nixon?

Slumping poll numbers have prompted political observers to compare politicians of all stripes to Richard Nixon. President Bush is now tied with Nixon in "the contest for 'Most Reviled President, Modern Era,'" said Eugene Robinson in The Washingt

What happened

President Bush dipped in the polls this week, with the percentage of Americans who “strongly disapprove” of his presidency slightly higher than the number who felt that way about Richard Nixon at the height of the Watergate scandal in 1974. But Hillary Clinton’s poll numbers are also sparking comparisons to the only president ever forced to resign. Does America have Nixon to kick around again?

What the commentators said

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One thing’s for sure, said Eugene Robinson in The Washington Post (free registraiton). George W. Bush has “reduced more of his fellow citizens to frustrated, sputtering rage than any president since opinion polling began,” or at least since Nixon. Bush will leave his successor with a nightmare in Iraq, “an unfinished war in Aghanistan,” a legacy of torture, and an economy with a record gap between the rich and the poor. No wonder a Gallup Poll shows him in a “statistical tie” with the only president ever to “resign in disgrace” in “the contest for ‘Most Reviled President, Modern Era.’”

But look closer, said Mark Murray in MSNBC’s First Read blog, and you’ll see it’s Hillary Clinton who is the new Nixon. Not the Watergate crook, but Nixon “circa 1968,” as NBC/Wall Street Journal pollster Richard Hart put it. That means that most Americans respect her for her knowledge and experience, but she’s polarizing. Only 34 percent of adults think she’s “likeable.” Still, being tagged the new Nixon isn’t all bad. “Do remember that Richard Nixon won two terms.”

Actually, the person who’s really wearing Nixon’s shoes isn’t president, and doesn’t want to be, said Kenneth F. Bunting in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. It’s Vice President Dick Cheney who has people looking to impeach him. But Rep. Dennis Kucinich’s proposal to impeach Cheney for allegedly lying to justify the Iraq war isn’t going anywhere—it’s impossible to prove such a charge, and Democrat leaders aren’t keen on pressing the matter. Which is good. Impeachment is serious business, not part of some “parliamentary chess game.”

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