Reader Mail

Big Ben’s Finest Hours

In Round Three, the Nixon haters go ballistic. But Ben Stein also has many friends.

6.6.05

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THE LEFT STRIKES BACK
Re: Ben Stein's I Don't Feel for Felt and Deep Throat and Genocide; the "Bad Day for Snitches" letters in Reader Mail's Feltgate, and "Stein's the One" in Reader Mail's Hear Them Roar:

Wow, I have to say, I am in love with Ben Stein's opinion on this whole matter, I wasn't even born at the time of the Watergate scandal, but every time I read about Nixon I can't help but think he was a good president, thanks.

Please forward my approval if you can.
-- Brandon Regueiro

"Win Ben Stein's Money" was outrageous comedy with terrible puns and thoroughly enjoyable. However, his love of the rigid right frequently betrayed his vast knowledge and wit. I am sure he didn't know the questions but I'm sure the areas of questions were somewhat shaded to his expertise -- law, history, current events, biography. Bring the program back.

However, Ben as a political writer and commentator is a tragedy. Of
course, Felt looks old. He's in his nineties. I hope Ben looks as good when he is 89. Politically, Ben is too much of an ideologue to pass himself off as a writer. He doesn't have the suave nature of David Brooks nor the conviction of Rush Limbaugh.

As a professor of law at Pepperdine, Ben must have thousands of political right wingers as an audience.
Stick to comedy, Ben.
-- William Brace

Corrrection: A phrase from the fourth paragraph of Ben Stein's June 1st article "Deep Throat and Genocide" read "...conniving war starter like LBJ..." It should have read "...conniving war starters like LBJ and GWB..."
-- Brad Wilks
Franklin Park, Pennsylvania

Ben Stein is a great writer. I enjoy his style and his humorous tone. But, Nixon was not the great president Ben makes him out to be. Sure, he had his moments, but he was a tragic human being -- a real mixed up personality and a closet liberal to boot.

Having said that, I must state that I believe Ben Stein is correct about the history of the war in Vietnam. Without the fall of Nixon the North Vietnamese Communists would have failed in their attempt to conquer the South in 1975 for at least three reasons: (1) Nixon would have kept our commitment to the South; which meant two important factors that weren't present when he was gone, namely, (2) US re-supply of ammunition, spare parts, etc, and (3) the continued presence of US military advisors (who would have ensured the South Vietnamese Army had airpower, like AH-1 Cobras [with TOW missiles], and, especially B52 strikes), which would have remained in Vietnam to do what we promised the people of Vietnam we would do in 1973. There is no way in God's green earth that a North Vietnamese armored assault would have succeeded with these factors as they did in 1975. Anyone who doubts that has forgotten the failed North Vietnamese Easter 1972 offensive.

When we cut off money, supplies, advisors and our support, the South knew they were unlikely to win. With Nixon in power it is unlikely the holocaust of Cambodia would have occurred simply because the chaos of the fall of the RVN would not have happened. Of course the rest of the post-1975 fall of Saigon tragedy (boat people, concentration camps, etc)would have not occurred either. I doubt it would have occurred later with Ronald Reagan on the horizon in our history.
-- Paul Melody
Gainesville, Virginia

Stein's maliciously inaccurate article is a disgrace to himself as a citizen of this country. He has a very warped idea of what a hero is. He asks questions for dishonest effect. He is the very definition of a dishonorable person.
-- Dimitry Volfson

I'm glad to see Ben Stein drawing the connection between Watergate and the fall of South Vietnam. The link is not hard to make, but those who are willing to make it are few and far between. Ben has the same straight-forward, common sense approach his old man had, and he doesn't seem to care where the truth takes him. Bravo to Ben.
-- Lew Dale

A finer column I have rarely read. Well said!
-- Fr. Mark McKercher

In addition to the book "Silent Coup: The Removal of a President" -- by Len Colodny, Robert Gettlin, I also recommend "Secret Agenda: Watergate, Deep Throat, and the CIA" -- by Jim Hougan. Hougan's book digs into Watergate from a different angle than the Colodny and Gettlin book. It delves into why were the break-ins so inept as to be discovered at all.
-- Geoff Bowden
Kalamazoo, Michigan

Ben Stein has always been a demented piece of trash but his column on Felt takes the cake. Count me gone. It's over for me and your magazine.
-- Patrick Hasburgh

Has Ben Stein gone bonkers? His brief screed on Mark Felt was tasteless and totally devoid of any trace of thought or logic. Tell him to take an aspirin and lie down.
-- Sam Sherman

Ben Stein is a truly great American and very correct regarding the betrayal of this country by Mark Felt.

Richard Nixon was hounded out of office by an uncontrolled U.S. media and I don't mean the press alone.

The culture war continues.
-- B.T. Davenport

I was seven when the Watergate scandal hit the news and eight when Nixon resigned -- rightfully so, but he was sabotaged into doing it, too, I believe.

I didn't know then all that I know now, and then, like now, the media tried to paint Woodward and Bernstein as the "heroes that took out a Presidency." No, they did not; they were mere opportunists looking to make it big in their real world journalism jobs. Just look at the response to W. Mark Felt's family looking to cash in on his "Deep Throat" fame. And Bob and Carl's coffers looking to be filled before Felt gets all the gold at the end of the Potomac rainbow. As it happens, according to G. Gordon Liddy, Felt felt slighted for not having been picked to head the CIA when Hoover passed on, that the DNC actually had a call-girl ring in the hotel across form Watergate, and that many other allegations of election tampering were about to be exposed by the FBI, much to Nixon's credit, but getting too nuts over it, he panicked and the rest is history. Felt's Deep Throat status may have been perfect retaliation against Nixon, and many on the Left who schemed -- as they do now -- to keep a steadfast conservative Republican out of the Oval Office. Interestingly enough, why it is the Left is forever vilifying this man for a crime he didn't need to be demonized for, yet Bill Clinton's record spans decades and the Left to this day still say he wasn't really impeached or the rogue we right-wing loonies call Bill to be.

As Ben Stein wrote, Nixon did everything the Left championed as their cause, yet never followed through with it. Nixon created the EEOC, the EPA, opened relations with China, ended the war in Vietnam, brought home the POW's, ended the war in the Mideast, started the first nuclear weapons reduction treaty and saved Eretz Israel's life. What, exactly, did Nixon do that was so horrible?

Oops, wait. He lied. Incredible. So did Bill Clinton (remember Monica, Juanita, Gennifer, Paula, Danny Williams, where Bill was born and omitting his middle name oh-so-'Blythe-ly'?), yet the Left did everything to spin this out of the conservatives' collective memories into anything but the fact that Bill Clinton lied. Pathologically.

Ben, you're so right on the mark. Thanks for giving me a great history lesson, to go with the memory of playing freeze tag and Silly Putty while Nixon stated, rightly so, that he wasn't a crook. Paranoid? Perhaps. A sleazeball like the DNC, the mainstream media and the Left wish to portend Nixon was? No way.
-- Helyne "Missye" Klauck
Brooklyn, New York

So Ben Stein is a "writer, actor, economist, and lawyer in Beverly Hills." With all of these activities he clearly must be a busy man, too busy to even to do the reading to acquire even the most superficial understanding of U.S. history during the Nixon Administration, and the reasons that led major political figures in both parties to call for Nixon's resignation. In case Mr. Stein received his law degree off the back of a match book, and has forgotten, Nixon was engaged in obstruction of justice, requiring a formal pardon by Gerald Ford. Perhaps Ford was kidding. You could look it up.
-- Christopher Francklyn
Burlington, Vermont

Ben Stein asks, "Can anyone even remember now what Nixon did that was so terrible?"

Uh, yeah. Let's see, Mr. Stein, it was a smidge more than telling a fib.

The first article of impeachment alleged that he had used his presidential powers to obstruct justice. A criminal indictment was prepared in which Nixon was named as an unindicted co-conspirator. Conspiracy to obstruct justice. The evidence on the tapes was that Nixon had involved himself in blackmail to obstruct justice, using the issue of "national security" to attempt to get the CIA to obstruct the investigation by the FBI, destroying evidence to obstruct justice, bribery to obstruct justice, conducting political espionage, illegal wiretapping of citizens, and breaking the law by firing the special prosecutor to obstruct justice and protect his own hide.

I'm sure Elliot Richardson and Archibald Cox could remember before they died what Nixon did that was so terrible. And all the people who went to jail should be able to remember, too.
-- John W. Baker

So Ben Stein thinks all Nixon did was tell a fib? Please set the record straight.

The first article of impeachment charged that he had used presidential powers to obstruct justice. This is not a misdemeanor. A criminal indictment was prepared in which Nixon it was shown that from the evidence on the tapes Nixon was involved in blackmail, attempting to get the CIA to obstruct the investigation by the FBI, destroying evidence, bribery, conducting political espionage, illegal wiretapping of citizens, and breaking the law and firing the special prosecutor to protect his own hide.

If this is a little fib, then America is in big trouble.
-- Noel Schutz, Associate Professor
National Chi Nan University
Puli, Taiwan

After reading Ben Stein's "Deep Throat and Genocide," I do believe he is out of his mind. So Mark Felt, Bob Woodward, and all the rest of Nixon's "enemies" were the ones responsible for losing the Vietnam War as well as the Cambodian genocide? It sounds like just the kind of seeping paranoia that got Nixon in trouble to begin with, and now we can see the mentality was pervasive among those who surrounded him. Stein sounds like a stark raving mad lunatic, nothing less. I would suggest that before you publish another one of his articles, you ask him to have a psychiatric evaluation, before the credibility of your fine publication comes into question.
-- Dan Bernard

Ben Stein is totally wrong in his assessment of Nixon.

Whatever Mr. Nixon was, he was the kind of president who thought nothing of ordering his supporters to commit black-bag burglaries; to literally hoover around someone's office or home in order to find out God knows what about who knows what.

Such acts reflect a political paranoia and disrespect for law no American need put up with. Mr. Nixon was quite correctly threatened with impeachment had he stayed in office and the only good thing to come out of the Watergate affair was Nixon's resignation.

And the idea that Nixon could have somehow prevented the Cambodian massacres is so much nonsense. There's absolutely no evidence that Nixon could (or would) have done anything about Cambodia one way or the other had he stayed in office.
-- unsigned

On the narrow road of life, you know, that narrow road that leads us to heaven instead of the big bad broad road occupied by all the riff raff and sport stars, we inevitably may experience some yanking, pulling or otherwise ill-suited advice that, although well intentioned, is so far off base even the very thought of being educated enough to read and ponder ends up poisoning our minds forevermore is the only legacy left by this article "Deep throat and Genocide" as well as the Nixon era.

Nixon's conceit and contempt of anyone but himself, developed over many years of coming in "second place" in a variety of races, manifested itself many times after being elected president by his complete despotism. Every opportunity bought before the American people during his tenure (Remember Ben, the Chinese didn't approve trade with Nixon…they agreed to trade with the American people) was manipulated by Nixon into a "Look at me, I'm a great and worldly politician" scenario.

Had Nixon not had Kissinger the only thing we would be remembering right now from the Nixon era was Pat's drinking, how many guy's "coffed" the Nixon girls in the Lincoln bedroom and the question "Who would have ever picked Spiro Agnew as a running mate." I'm sure the only reason Nixon did this was to make himself appear… careful here… handsome?

Ben, quit yanking us around here. You chose to work for the guy… we impeached him. I only wish it would have been before they elected him. Them LBJ could have ended the war earlier and saved many American boys killed after Nixon contacted the North Vietnamese to barter by promising them a better deal after he would take office.

Next time Ben Stein, pick a winner and stop your incessant whining, unless of course you're running for president.
-- Mike Bakeman

What did RMN do? Wage and price controls.
-- Jim Hayes

AMEN. I heartily concur with Mr. Stein... and thanks for the truth, which could never be expressed in the mainstream (left) media.
-- unsigned

The DT revelation doesn't do much for the integrity of the FBI. It's somewhat unsettling to know that Special Agent #2 ratted out a president of the US, whatever one thinks about Nixon. (But then, didn't Hoover furnish confidential FBI files to LBJ for nighttime reading?)
-- unsigned

You folks are, perhaps, the craziest literates I know of. Incredible. What's more troubling is that I'm sending you a response, like reason might be applicable here.
-- Chuck

I am somewhat astounded that none of the Mark Felt/Deep Throat press coverage mentions that Mr. Felt had former President Nixon testify as a defense witness at Mr. Felt's criminal trial in 1980. Of course, the irony now is extraordinary.

However, it was historic at the time. As I recall, it was the first time someone who had been president testified in a court case.
-- Kris Sundberg
Mercer Island, Washington

Ben Stein has truly lost his grip. He forgets that Nixon was a heart of a conspiracy to undermine American democracy in order to stay in power. He forgets that Nixon carpet bombed Cambodia, and hid it from Congress killing tens of thousands of civilians, and thus serving as a catalyst for the genocide that followed. Stein swinishly has the nerve to compare Felt with Nazi war criminals, and reasons that Felt owed Nixon his thanks for helping Israel because his is half Jewish. If Stein is an example of what passes for Conservative thought these days - and I'm pretty sure he does -- then I think America is going down the toilet fast.
-- John Paolozzi
Vancouver, British Columbia

The trickster ruined his career by lying and then getting federal agencies to lie and cover up for his lies. And, even without deep throat, the trickster would have fallen. See: "secret audio tapes" and "smoking gun." Ben is clever but he is disgraces himself by covering for a pathological liar... of course, that is what most Republiskums seem to be doing again these days, isn't it?
-- Ted Church
Memphis, Tennessee

If I read Ben Stein correctly, Richard Nixon was our only hope to prevent genocide; Mark Felt deserves a comparison to a Nazi but also is a bad Jew for having more allegiances than the one to the world's Jews, thereby either contradicting or perpetuating (I can't tell Stein's point) the stereotype of us Jews as solely a self-interested international cabal; and in any event, despite the identity of Deep Throat having been one of the biggest secrets of the 20th century, it's not newsworthy because there are troops in the field. Huh. Well, I suppose it's my own fault for trying to get insight from a game show host.
-- David Anthony Tice

Ben Stein's "Deep Throat and Genocide" may not be the most stupid revisionist history of the Watergate era, as we can't predict what other idiocy will be written, but it certainly sets a record to date. To half wit:

"Can anyone even remember now what Nixon did that was so terrible?" Yes, he tried to subvert the Presidential elections.

"He ended the war in Vietnam" two years after he resigned.

One true fact from Mr. Stein: Nixon didn't veto the EPA. If Nixon started the EPA, Gore invented the Internets.

"He was a peacemaker." A peacemaker who ordered bombings that killed a million civilians.

Ooh Alger Hiss. I don't know about people lying in wait to get Nixon, but it is obvious Mr. Stein has been waiting all his life to drag out that chestnut. "No one doubts RN would never have let this (Khmer Rouge) happen." Who does Mr. Stein not think did not depose the legitimate leader of Cambodia, allowing the Khmer Rouge to gain power? I'll give you a hint: His initials were RN. And that is the unspeakable lie that Mr. Stein has the gall to write: that those that stopped a power-mad crook from destroying America are responsible for the genocide in Cambodia. I hope Mr. Stein is happy in his despicable and hateful world, because it has no basis in history or reality. "Smug arrogance," indeed.
-- James Golden

With amusement I notice liberals keep parroting that Vietnam casualties were higher under Nixon than Democratic administrations. Here are the facts concerning American battle deaths in Vietnam: Note the first battle death occurred in December 1961 and the first year of JFK's administration and the Johnson administration ended on January 20, 1969.

US Military battle deaths by year:
- Prior to 1966 - 3,078 (Total up through 31 December 1965)
- 1966 - 5,008
- 1967 - 9,378
- 1968 - 14,589 (Total while JFK & LBJ were on watch - 32,053)
- 1969 - 9,414
- 1970 - 4,221
- 1971 - 1,381
- 1972 - 300 (Total while Nixon was on watch - 15,316)
-- unsigned

At the end of his May Day op-ed piece for the New York Times, "The War We Could Have Won," Stephen J. Morris wrote:

In 1974-75, the United States snatched defeat from the jaws of victory. Hundreds of thousands of our Vietnamese allies were incarcerated, and more than a million driven into exile. The awesome image of the United States was diminished, and its enemies were thereby emboldened, drawing the United States into new conflicts by proxy in Afghanistan, Africa and Latin America. And the bitterness of so many American war veterans, who saw their sacrifices so casually demeaned and unnecessarily squandered, haunts American society and political life to this day.

Isn't this, along with the hideous slaughter of a quarter to a third of all Cambodians, the real price paid for Mssrs. Felt's, Woodward's, Bernstein's and Bradlee's obsession with Nixon? For all those who believe catastrophe theory's contention that the wing-beating butterfly half-a-planet away is capable of triggering a hurricane, here, perhaps, is your proof.
-- Dennis Sevakis
Bloomfield, Michigan

Outstanding as always... just keep more Dr. Stein coming!!! Good choice to make him the lead!
-- unsigned

Please pass on congrats to Ben from a resident of Shiloh, a community in Samaria now being threatened by an American President who insists on using State Dept. lingo that signals Israel's weakening ("1949 armistice lines," etc.).
-- Yisrael Medad

I would like to disagree, somewhat, with Ben Stein and his characterization of Mark Felt. I think Felt was an above average man in the sense that he was an achiever. At the same time, Felt was an average man in the sense that he was capable of good and bad judgments in about equal measure. He did commit crimes for which he was tried, convicted, and then pardoned, but comparing him with Nazi war criminals is a little over the top. I do agree that there is a weird physical resemblance between Felt and former Nazis.

In the last sentence of Mr. Stein's article he says: "...let's remember there's a war on, and the best and bravest of our nation are dying every day -- to protect a great nation, but one which seems lately to have forgotten even what the nation is all about."

The great mass of Americans who go to work everyday, love their families, live in a nice home, and appreciate the American way of life have not forgotten what America is all about. This silent majority loves America, is deeply appreciative of the blessings of life as an American, is willing to stand and defend this country against tyranny and fascism. The silent majority is also tolerant and willing to let disparate fringe elements speak and even have some say in the goings on of day-to-day life.

There comes a point; however, when the silent majority says enough. That point has been reached with respect to the American MSM. The MSM has repeatedly demonstrated left bias and a rabid anti-Americanism. The decline in ratings and readership for MSM outlets combined with the increasing popularity of new media shows the incipient backlash against the MSM from the silent majority.

It is the MSM that has forgotten what this nation is all about. Shame on them.

God bless and protect our troops in harm's way.
-- Doug Santo
Pasadena, California

I don't feel sorry for Mark Felt either. There's one other aspect of Felt that ought not be ignored. In 1980 Felt had no qualms about calling Nixon, using Nixon, in his own criminal case. Did he ever tell Nixon that he was Deep Throat? Did Nixon know that he was giving Deep Throat a helping hand? Did Reagan know that he was pardoning Deep Throat? What an underhanded, conniving slimeball.
-- unsigned

I've been an admirer of Mr. Stein for quite some time. His comments on the tawdry "Deep Throat" revelations are absolutely illuminating, scathing and truthful all at once! I long wondered why these criminals aren't prosecuted for breaking laws about leaking information. Having been around when Watergate happened, I got it immediately that Woodward & Bernstein were self-serving career putzes.
-- unsigned

Profound thanks for your articles on the nauseating Deep Throat extravaganza. You're right on target. BRAVO!
-- Nancy Seaman
Washington, D.C.

Vance Geiger's letter calls Ben Stein a panderer. This is the typical answer the left falls back on every time their little bubble of self-righteousness is pricked. Stein's facts are unassailable to any degree because they are based on historical fact. Check Nixon's papers and the writings of those who knew him. Enemies and friends of that era agree on the man's abilities and on what he would and would not do. His "crime" descended from a sense of loyalty that was, frankly, too strong in the face of those events.

If anyone noticed the letter below Geiger's tripe they would have seen it was written by the spouse of a KR survivor. The left can attempt to rewrite history all they want but it does not change the facts. It was a liberal congress that prolonged the war. It was a liberal congress that feared upsetting the Chinese so much that they preferred appeasement to advancing the front. I have spoken with veterans who were ordered to retreat when it became apparent that they were winning.

Geiger apparently is in agreement with Jane Fonda and most likely would have loved to sit in that anti aircraft after she finished warming it for him. It amazes me that the liberals will suck in every benefit America offers and yet loudly belch forth their hatred of that selfsame nation. But, as we all know, the left has never had a problem with hierocracy.
-- Robert Lee Beers
Henderson, Nevada

I think the article written by Ben Stein was fabulous!! I've always liked him, and every time I read an article from him I like him even more. President Nixon was a very respectable man. He tried to do the right thing and save lives, and instead, as is the case with all Republican American presidents, he was fed to the wolves. The Liberal American press should be ashamed of themselves for what they did to him, and Mr. Felt will probable burn in Hell when he dies (which won't be too long, considering his age).

Good job Ben Stein, I love your work!!
-- Gregory Bonnette
Niagara Falls, New York

Thank Ben for telling it like it is.
-- Neil Agrasto
Baldwinsville, New York

"Have you noticed how Mark Felt looks like one of those old Nazi war criminals they find in Bolivia or Paraguay? That same, haunted, hunted look combined with a glee at what he has managed to get away with so far?"

Come on Ben, I love you, but you of all people know better than this. Let's save the Nazi comparisons for people who actually behave like Nazis. You're right, Felt is no angel and no hero, but neither was Nixon, and neither was comparable to Nazi war criminals. To excuse the acts of one but not the other (they both broke the law and betrayed their oath) is the sort of blind hypocrisy we've come to expect from the left. You are better than that.
-- Chuck Lazarz

When Ben Stein writes an article referring to the Watergate Scandal and Nixon, I think it would be honest reporting if someone included somewhere (in his bio at the very least) that Mr. Stein was a speechwriter for Nixon. Doesn't that seem relevant to anyone? That his check was endorsed by the man he's defending?

This lack of information by a member of the media in an article attracting members of the media is the hypocrisy a majority of Americans have come to expect, but it is no less disappointing.

And to link the downfall of Nixon as the single reason for the rise of the Khmer Rouge is funnier than any line he had in Ferris Bueller's Day Off.
-- Russell Boone

Mr. Stein's commentary, "Deep Throat and Genocide," is ludicrous beyond words. But it should come as no surprise that the former Nixon speechwriter would concoct the ridiculous premise that Mark Felt, Ben Bradlee and Bob Woodward (don't forget Carl, too!) "hatched the worst nightmare imaginable: genocide." Mr. Stein obviously suffers from serious delusions; perhaps thirty years of lying for the criminal Nixon Administration has ruptured his hold on sanity to Tom Cruise proportions.

Mr. Stein also asks a question almost as silly as his argument: Does anyone remember what Nixon did that was so terrible? Here's a list:

1. Political burglary
2. Bribery
3. Extortion
4. Wiretapping (phone tapping)
5. Conspiracy
6. Obstruction of justice
7. Destruction of evidence
8. Tax fraud
9. Illegal use of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)
10. Illegal use of the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI)
11. Illegal campaign contributions
12. Use of public (taxpayers') money for private purposes

Please pass this on to Mr. Stein in case he has lost his memory along with his sanity.
-- Shawn Dwyer
Los Angeles, California

Ben Stein has a remarkable felicity for constructing and presenting incisive insights into the world of politics and I have long been a fan -- but not this time. Ben has many careers and one of them was as a speech writer for President Nixon. I think that that experience may have colored his view of Nixon.

To set up my perspective, I must confess to being an admirer President Reagan who was, in my opinion, the antithesis of Nixon.

In his article, Stein asks: "Can anyone even remember now what Nixon did that was so terrible? ... Does anyone remember what he did that was bad?" Yes, Ben, I can. How about:

1. Detente. The Soviet Union was a model of how kill over 20 million of your own citizens, run another 18 million through the Gulag, keep the rest in abject poverty while threatening democracies around the world. Although still dedicated to defeating the free world, they became over-extended militarily and their economy began to fail. Along came Richard Nixon with detente and saved the communist day.

Then Governor Ronald Reagan argued that Nixon's policies did not in the slightest constrain the Soviets; the Soviets built up its military while the US's build-up lagged. Reagan's military build-up was not predicated on the inadequacies of Jimmie Carter alone. Reagan posited that the Soviets were pursuing detente and arms control to achieve global hegemony. Thus the Nixon policy led the charge (aided by the Carter Administration) to an equal balance with the Soviet Union. In a January 1972 interview with Time magazine, Nixon talked of the balance of power. He presaged Madeline Albright in attempting to strike military parity with the Soviet Union.

Reagan was especially concerned that by downplaying the ideological dimension of the U.S.-Soviet confrontation, Nixon was depriving U.S. foreign policy of its necessary moral element

One can argue that were it not for Nixon, the Soviet Union would have folded 10 years sooner. Or, looking at it another way, if Reagan had been elected in '68 instead of Nixon, the Soviet Union might have folded its tents before the end of Reagan's term of office.

2. China. In order to open China, Nixon sent a strong and clear message to Taiwan: screw you; we'll accept Mainland China's dictates on how to deal with Taiwan. For Nixon to abandon a strong ally like Taiwan, to de-recognize them and aid in throwing them out of the UN is, in my mind, unpardonable. It also sent a message to the rest of the world that the US is not a worthwhile friend -- choose communism if you want loyalty; the US will be your friend only as long as you can be of use.

Contrary to what Nixon had hoped to achieve through his international triangulation approach (the Soviets, China and the U.S.), the Soviets did not become more malleable. Neither did the Chinese exert influence on the North Vietnamese and they continued to support the Cambodian Khmer Rouge.

3. Indochina. Granted that Nixon was not dealt a strong hand but the hand he was dealt was not played well. He emboldened the North Vietnamese by announcing cuts in troop strength, a fact cited by Vo Nguyen Giap and Bu Tin of the North Vietnam's high command. Again, we dumped a friend, the South Vietnamese, for all the world to see. Nixon only ended the war by accepting the ex-officio terms of unconditional surrender. Yes, congress thwarted Nixon but a stronger president -- a Reagan or a Roosevelt -- could have found a better way to deal with Congress, the American people and perhaps presented a stronger front to North Vietnam.

As a direct result of Nixon's international philosophy, it seems to me, the non-aligned world began to accelerate its anti-US stance, a situation that still plagues us today.

4. Affirmative Action. We're still dealing with the remnants of this policy today and it has further divided us. In the mind of John McWhorter, a black college professor, Affirmative action has contributed to lessening the achievement of black American students.

5. Wage and Price controls. To what end? To no end, merely as a sop to Americans to show that he was doing something to control inflation.

6. Watergate. It was a stupid idea then and I still find it unfathomable that a U.S. President could be involved in this.

7. EPA. Let me see. Stein thinks that the EPA is a good thing. I don't want to turn this into a debate on the EPA but there are, in fact, many who think that the EPA was a bad thing and Nixon deserves blame not credit.

The truth is, Nixon thought of himself as a foreign affairs president and didn't give a tinker's damn about domestic policy.

Stein goes on to say that Nixon "was a lying, conniving, covering up peacemaker." Yes, he was a peacemaker in the tradition of Neville Chamberlain. As Chamberlain postponed genocide in Europe by conspiring with Hitler to meet Hitler's demands so, too, did Nixon conspire through a Peace Treaty with North Vietnam to accede to their demands for Indochina.

I think that we will have to agree that the invective Stein uses against Kennedy, Johnson and Clinton is a little overwrought. To call Johnson a "conniving war starter" ignores the fact that three Presidents before Nixon all agreed on the importance of dealing with Vietnam and inexorably moved towards increasing involvement. To single one out and label him as a "war starter" is less than I would expect from Stein....
-- Robert J. Kulak
West Hartford, Connecticut

To blame Mark Felt and the Washington Post for genocide is absolutely insane. You cannot argue that Nixon on the one hand was a man of peace who ended the war in Vietnam (by withdrawing American troops, thereby leaving the South Vietnamese at the mercy of the North, as well as leaving Cambodia at the mercy of the Khmer Rouge), and on the other and that Nixon would not have let the suffering of the Vietnamese and Cambodians happen. Truth is, he already had taken exactly that course.

Mr. Stein also seems to forget the manipulation of the FBI, CIA, and IRS by Nixon to punish his political enemies and obstruct justice. Oh, and by the way, did I mention Nixon's role in helping to install the Pinochet regime, thereby insuring a decade or more of suffering on the Chilean people, some of whom still do not know the whereabouts of their loved ones. Ultimately, Nixon's downfall can be placed at the feet of only one man -- Nixon....
-- Paul Eric Plavcan
Newington, Connecticut

At first I thought this was some sort of strange expression of humor, but I think Stein is playing it straight? How bizarre!

If Stein really believes that the outing and resignation of Nixon was responsible for the carnage in Cambodia, then he needs to carry that thought further -- if Nixon had not tried to cover up the illegal actions of his underlings, if he had not tried to use the CIA to control the FBI, then maybe there would have been no ruination of Nixon's career. Will Stein be at least ethical enough to admit if there had been no crime to begin with, there would be no Watergate scandal? And according to him, therefore no Cambodian genocide.
-- Kathleen
Colorado

I'm sorry Ben, but you might need to familiarize yourself with the term "hatch." I'm not even sure you could use the word complicity here. Because you believe that RN would "not this happen" does not mean that Felt and Woodward are going to hell for taking him off Khmer Rouge watch-duty. I'm sorry Ben, but I don't think I can read your column anymore. The unresolved anger towards "Deep Throat" and the resignation of Richard Nixon is clearly not being dealt with in a healthy way. I fear what karma has in store for you after such a piece.
-- unsigned

Ben Stein did a heroic service to the legacy of Richard Nixon. The world was better off for Nixon's foreign policy decisions. Nixon's rapprochement to China had everything to do with Triangulation against the USSR -- and nothing to do with Southeast Asia.
-- Michael Solomon Horn, LTC, MI, USA, ret.
Tracy, California

I just finished reading Ben Stein's article regarding Rat Fink Felt's legacy and am compelled to write to applaud Mr. Stein and to thank him for his works. I still share with friends and relatives the piece that Mr. Stein wrote after the 2004 election and George Bush's victory when in Malibu folks would approach him and whisper "We did it, but don't say anything, I have to live here" and similar sentiments.

I was recalled to active-duty with the U.S. Marines after the 9/11 attacks and deployed for two years overseas with Special Operations Command Central; first in Afghanistan, then the Horn of Africa and then Iraq. I left behind a wife and twin boys who were 18 months old; I didn't return until they were almost four. It was my honor and privilege to serve, and I stand ready to go back when my Nation asks me to. My father served for four years in WW II for America and for his children (PT Boats, both theaters; first two years in the Mediterranean against Nazi Germany then 2 years in the South Pacific against Imperial Japan -- for serious wounds he received in combat he received four Purple Heart Medals and for Gallantry in Action he received the Silver Star Medal and the Bronze Star Medal), so two years in two combat zones is the least I could do for America and for my children. My father passed away this past February 27.

I have a deep respect and a heartfelt appreciation for Ben Stein and for all he does for our Nation, and I just wanted to share these thoughts.
-- David M. McCarthy

I appreciate Mr. Stein's article because very few columnists seem to have views similar to mine. I think Mr. Nixon might have been a great president if the 1960 election had not been bought by the opposition, prompting him to ally with Nelson Rockefeller.

I developed a deep interest in the Watergate affair when I first heard the news report of the break-in, noting that the burglars' lawyers had come to the police station without being called. A lengthy article in Harper's magazine about 17 years ago, and hearing a radio interview with one of the burglars after his release from jail confirmed my impression that the entire operation was planned to get caught. Listening to John Dean's testimony before the Senate committee, I heard him say that Governor Rockefeller ("the Governor of New York") was on the distribution list for White House internal security documents. I kept finding that everyone in the White House owed loyalty to Nelson Rockefeller. I noticed that the trial judge said that he believed the plot originated high in the White House, but not with the president, and that no one seemed to be interested in who planned the burglary. When things got hot for the president, old actions of the VP came to light, getting him out of the way for a vice-presidential appointment, and Mr. Rockefeller was expected to be the appointee (before forcing Mr. Nixon out).

Together with other observations and comments by friends who had heard other reports, I had a complete, detailed picture of a presidential coup, except that I was inclined to think of Henry Kissinger as "Deep Throat." This week's revelation brought an odd party into the mixture -- an important player who may not have worked for Mr. Rockefeller. Then I heard that the same man presented as "Deep Throat" was responsible for instigating the necessary fall of Spiro Agnew, who was, I found in my library, an old Rockefeller supporter previously shafted by the governor.

Through the years, many things have been brought up to keep Mr. Nixon's reputation down, suggesting that those involved may still be in significant positions. Sometime, I'd like to find someone in a suitable position who also thinks this worth investigating.
-- Aloysius G. Weimer
Avon Lake, Ohio

Ben Stein is superb. He can get to the heart of a public issue and identify what is truly important.
-- Jim Olson
Las Vegas, Nevada

What other FBI information did Felt disclose and to whom?
-- David Govett
Davis, California

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