Return of the old Nixon

June 18, 1991|By Art Buchwald

BACK IN the days when the Watergate scandal was really fun, someone discovered that there were two Richard Nixons -- the old Nixon and the new one. The old Nixon was a terrible rogue who resorted to every dirty trick in the book to protect his administration. The new Nixon was Washington's original Mr. Nice Guy. He was honest, kind, noble and a credit to his political party.

When the old Nixon was given the boot, the new Nixon, who had done nothing, was also thrown out on his keister onto Pennsylvania Avenue.

What happened after that is interesting. The new Nixon decided to make up for the old Nixon. He went to China and Russia, wrote best-selling books, appeared at friendly fund-raisers and everyone forgot the trouble in the White House.

Then the other week, under a court order, the government released a battery of Nixon tapes from the White House days. They showed the worst side of the old Nixon -- a vindictive and bitter person, willing to destroy anyone in order to save his own skin.

As soon as the contents of the tapes were published, the new Nixon went to the old Nixon's $4 million bunker in New Jersey and cried, "How could you do this to me?"

The old Nixon shrugged, "I tried to stop them from releasing the cassettes, but they wouldn't listen. It's not my fault that they got out."

"I want to know why you made the tapes in the first place?" the new Nixon asked.

"What could I do? Bebe Rebozo gave me a Sony for Christmas. If I had known that the stuff would ever be played in public, I'd have put some Frank Sinatra music to it."

"You always thought of yourself -- never of me," the new Nixon charged.

"I was on a roll until the tapes came out. People regarded me as a great statesman, a phoenix risen from the ashes. Now everyone thinks that I am the cheap, petty, scheming rotter they always thought you were."

The old Nixon seemed agitated. "I didn't do anything. It was the left-wing, commie media that took my voice and made me into a heavy."

The new Nixon scoffed, "Are you going to tell me again you weren't involved in the Watergate cover-up?"

The old Nixon said, "They were my guys and someone blew it. The commander-in-chief does what has to be done when it comes to torching the other political party. This incident will blow over. Everything bad that happens to me always does."

"So now what do I do?" the new Nixon asked.

"The old Nixon replied, "That's not my problem. '60 Minutes' wants me on this week."

"Why you?" the new Nixon wanted to know.

"An old Nixon is much more fascinating to the public than a new one."

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