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Chris Wallace: Bush Is No Nixon

AP photo

The "panel discussions" of Wonk Washington can be awfully tepid affairs -- maybe because they're not inviting Chris Wallace to enough of them.

After a screening of the new "Frost/Nixon" Monday, an A-listy panel (including director Ron Howard and author Jim Reston) began comparing Richard Nixon's misdeeds to George Bush's actions in the war on terrorism in casual we-all-agree-here style. The Fox News host jolted fellow audience members by sternly scolding the panel.

"It trivializes Nixon's crimes," Wallace said from his seat at the National Geographic theater. "Whatever George W. Bush did was after 9/11. . . and in service of trying to protect this country." Some applause, some boos from the media-political crowd.

Panelist Robert Dallek took the bait. "We historians look forward to having access to Bush's archives," he said, noting that the White House has tried to push back on records-keeping mandates "To make the judgment you make in such a confident way, we need to have the records."

Wallace: "You're making suppositions based on no facts whatsoever."

Dallek: "Oh, come on! You read the New York Times."

Ah, Nixon! Always gets the juices flowing. The flick, about David Frost's 1977 TV interviews with the ex-prez, stirred up everyone's feelings. Screenwriter Peter Morgan said he worried viewers might think Frost inflicted a mortal blow on Nixon when he got him to apologize for Watergate. "I have no doubt that within minutes, like with a science-fiction creature, the wound had healed."

By The Reliable Source  |  December 2, 2008; 8:50 AM ET
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had to google chris wallace. glad i didn't know. comparing bush and nixon is like comparing hitler and idi amin. w is the worst president i've seen in my 60 years. nixon was a killer, and a thief. both were liars, and, worst, subverted the electoral process.

Posted by: bnglfn | December 2, 2008 4:21 PM | Report abuse

No contest. Not even close. Bush was the worst President of my lifetime (I'm another 60-year-old) and--in my opinion--has even displaced James Buchanan as the worst President in all of American history. As odious and criminal as Nixon was, he not in same league as the Boy King. The damage done in the last eight years is so deep and so widespread that I rather doubt it is repairable.

Chris Wallace's little tirade shows why he heads up Fix News, and reveals again what a simpering and vacuous GOP tool he is.

Posted by: IceNine | December 2, 2008 5:48 PM | Report abuse

I must have missed the memo that says you must be a Bush hater to be a commenter on The Reliable Source blog. My bad. Dallek is truly a piece of work: "Oh, come on, you read the New York Times." For historians, that settles it! Such a clever rejoinder, Sir! I am in awe of your vast scholarship and impressive intellect. Ron Howard made an anti-Bush crack as well, reported elsewhere. I wonder who was booing. Maybe it was that judge from Seattle.

Posted by: Craig_Colgan | December 2, 2008 6:23 PM | Report abuse

Wow. For Chris Wallace, who used to be such a good journalist of integrity, to make that statement. He should know better. I guess his Fox News people made it clear what his position needed to be.

And Dalleck was right, without full and unfettered access to the official records, the historical record will be incomplete. Until then, I think most intelligent people will view the circumstantial evidence presented to date and conclude Bush was at best, incompetent and arrogant. And at worst... complicit in activities that may warrant much closer inspection and possible punishment.

Of course, that's my opinion, but I don't pretend to be a journalist, as some do.

Posted by: rpike | December 2, 2008 6:47 PM | Report abuse

Like millions of other Americans, I've lived through both the Nixon and Bush II presidencies, and yes, they most certainly can be mentioned in the same breath. The motivations behind their epic failures might be different (Evil vs Stupidity), but the tragic results for our nation were much the same under both men.

Posted by: gmcduluth | December 3, 2008 9:27 AM | Report abuse

Ron Howard - just another Hollywood idiot. Kudos to you Chris Wallace!

Posted by: IGetIt | December 3, 2008 10:25 AM | Report abuse

No one, with the possible exception of James Buchanan, comes remotely close to GWB as the worst president in the history of this republic. Not Warren Harding, not Herbert Hoover, and no, not even Tricky Dick. (And don't even think about putting Grant in this conversation.)

Nixon could say he inherited Vietnam, and some could even argue that by 1968 there was no easy way out of that God-forsaken war. But devious liar that he was, at least he had a brain.

And Nixon wasn't some blithering, smug fundamentalist who goes around telling the world things like "I looked into Putin's soul and I saw a good man," or "I think Ariel Sharon is a man of peace." Most importantly, Nixon did not manufacture a pretext for war like twit brain did in Iraq.

GWB is unprecedentedly ignorant and malevolent -- a surly thug whose epitaph should read: "Real Ignorant and Damn Proud of it."

Posted by: loulor | December 3, 2008 9:54 PM | Report abuse

Apparently Dallek's approach to researching for his books is akin to the New York Times...make assumptions first then research. The very idea that he would say "come on, you read the New York Times" tells us all we need to know about Dallek.

Thank God there are brave people like Chris Wallace who say what they believe in the face of the "Group think" of today.

The 'journalists' in the crowd remind us all of what Orwell told us:

"At any given moment there is an orthodoxy, a body of ideas which it is assumed all right-thinking people will accept without question. It is not exactly forbidden to state this or that or the other, but it is “not done”… Anyone who challenges the prevailing orthodoxy finds himself silenced with surprising effectiveness. A genuinely unfashionable opinion is almost never given a fair hearing, either in the popular press or in the highbrow periodicals."

Bravo Mr. Wallace!

Posted by: ldavis3 | December 5, 2008 9:23 AM | Report abuse

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