Guest Post: We're All Nixonians Now

Tyler Durden's picture

Submitted by John Aziz of Azizonomics,


"People have got to know whether their President is a crook"

Richard M. Nixon

I often wonder who is worse: George W. Bush — the man who turned a projected trillion dollar surplus into the greatest deficits in world history, who bailed out the profligate Wall Street algos and arbitrageurs, who proceeded with two needless, pointless and absurdly costly military occupations (even though he had initially campaigned on the promise of a humble foreign policy), who ignored Michael Scheuer’s warnings about al-Qaeda previous to 9/11, who signed the Constitution-trashing PATRIOT Act  (etc etc ad infinitum) or his successor Barack Obama, the man who retained and expanded the PATRIOT Act powers under the NDAA (2011), who claimed the right to extrajudicially kill American citizens using predator drones, who expanded Bush’s expensive and pointless occupations (all the while having run on a promise to close the Guantanamo Bay detention centre and reverse Bush’s civil liberties incursions), who proceeded with Paulson’s Wall Street bailouts, authorised the NSA to record all phone calls and internet activity, and continued the destructive War on Drugs (even though he had in the past been a drug user).

The answer, by the way, is Richard Nixon. For almost forty years after that man’s resignation, it is arguable that almost every single administration (with the possible exception of  Carter as well as Reagan’s first year in office) — but especially that of Bush and Obama — has been cut from his cloth. It was Richard Nixon who inaugurated the War on Drugs — that despicable policy that has empowered the drug gangs and obliterated much of Latin America. It was Richard Nixon who so brazenly corrupted the White House and tarnished the office of the Presidency through the Watergate wiretapping scandal.  It was Nixon’s administration that created the culture of government surveillance that led directly to the PATRIOT Act. It was Nixon who internationalised the fiat dollar, so trampling George Washington’s warnings about not entangling alliances, and of course setting the stage for the gradual destruction of American industry that continued apace under NAFTA and into the present day, where America runs the greatest trade deficits in human history. It was Richard Nixon who set the precedent of pointless, stupid, blowback-inducing militarism, by continuing and expanding the Vietnam war. It was Richard Nixon whose administration authorised the use of chemical weapons (or as George W. Bush might have put it, “weapons of mass destruction”) against the Vietcong.

Presidents since have followed — to a greater or lesser extent — in his mould. This is particularly acute this election cycle; you vote for Obama and you get Richard Nixon, or you vote for Romney and you get Richard Nixon. Nixon’s words: “we’re all Keynesians now” have a powerful resonance; not only has every administration since Nixon retained the petrodollar standard and spent like a drunken sailor in pursuit of Keynesian multipliers, but every President since has followed in the Nixonian tradition on civil liberties, on trade, on foreign policy. Henry Kissinger — the true architect of many Nixonian policies, and Obama’s only real competition for most bizarre Nobel Peace Prize recipient — has to some degree counselled each and every President since.

It is hard to overstate the magnitude of Nixon’s actions. The demonetisation of  gold ended a 5,000 year long tradition. It was a moment of conjuring, a moment of trickery; that instead of producing the goods, and giving up her gold hoard to pay for her consumption habits (specifically, her consumption of foreign energy), America would give the finger to the world, and print money to pay her debts, while retaining her (substantial) gold hoard. The obvious result of this policy has been that America now prints more and more money, and produces less and less of her consumption. She has printed so much that $5 trillion floats around Asia, while the American industrial belt rusts. Industrial production in America is where it was ten years ago, yet America’s debt exposure has ballooned.

America has had not one but two Vietnams in the past ten years.

First, Afghanistan, in the pursuit of the elusive Osama bin Laden (or, “in the name of liberating women”, presumably via blowing their legs off in drone strikes), where young Western soldiers continue to die (for what?), even after bin Laden’s supposed death in a Pakistani compound last year.

Then, Iraq, presumably in the interests of preventing Saddam Hussein from using non-existent Weapons of Mass Destruction, or liberating more women by blowing their legs off (or as Tom Friedman  put it: “SUCK! ON! THIS!”).

Like Nixon’s Presidency, the Nixonian political system is highly fragile. Debt is fragility, because it enforces the inflexibility of repayment, and the Nixonian political system has created staggering debt, much of it now offshore. The Nixonian economic policy has gutted American industry, leaving America uncompetitive and dependent on foreign productivity and resources. The Nixonian foreign policy has created a world that is deeply antipathetic to America and American interests, which has meant that America has become less and less capable of achieving imperatives via diplomacy.

Future historians may finger George W. Bush as the worst President in history, and the one who broke the American empire. But smarter scholars will pinpoint Nixon. True, the seeds of destruction were sown much earlier with the institution of permanent limited liability corporations. This allowed for the evolution of a permanent corporate aristocracy which eventually bought out the political echelon, and turned the Federal government into an instrument of crony capitalism, military Keynesianism and corporate welfare. Nixonianism has been the corporate aristocracy’s crowning achievement. And to some extent, this period of free lunch economics was a banquet, even for middle class Americans. The masses were kept fat and happy. But now the game is up — like Nixon’s Presidency — its days are numbered.

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Peter K's picture

Worst president is history? Hint W inning T he  F uture. Obummer :0)

Gully Foyle's picture


I have that button. I break it out and wear it in public ocassionally.

brewing's picture

i have it too, but too "precious" to expose to the elements...

Manthong's picture

How do you say "I am not a crook" in Kenyan?

El Viejo's picture

What? Doesn't Ronnie Reagan get an honorable mention? Sure his dogma was right for the time (80s) but not right now for sure. He empowered corporations then(and now we're seeing the result of the quest for productive capacity gone mad), but now the consumer needs empowering. Thank God Gingrich (by his own admission a Reagan conservative) is out. I like the guy, but we just don't need him now. See graphs below. The divergence in incomes started with Ronnie's term.  I'm not blaming him I'm just saying it started in ernest then. Call it, Trickle down justification for a higher salary for me. After all it will trickle down. I remember complaints from congressmen about the incomes of high paid sports figures.

Gohn Galt's picture

I like Reagan, so I am a little biased.  (even though the fucker promised me he'd get rid of the Dept of Ed.  Reagan and Nancy fell pray to those who wish to rule and harm us all).

Bush family is the worst.  Complete knowledge of history and personal involvement all the way up through their great grandfather and beyond.  Founding Planned Parenthood aside, the family has been involved in 100's of millions of deaths worldwide, directly and indirectly.  Their family will be responsible for well over a billion lives worldwide and massive suffering amongst all people.

In the old days people like this would be reformed or banished.  Not allowed to cause this much harm.  Now people like this have technology and resources to poison and destroy the whole planet.  It is real tricky to face them, not many people left standing who have.  And of course if you a big tyrant and our able to take them down, then you become the problem.



Buckaroo Banzai's picture

Annoying that the author can't get through the first couple of sentences without getting his facts wrong. I'm not fan of George W. Bush-- he was an awful RINO-- but he didn't start with a budget surplus.

The Myth of the Clinton Surplus:

"While not defending the increase of the federal debt under President Bush, it's curious to see Clinton's record promoted as having generated a surplus. It never happened. There was never a surplus and the facts support that position. In fact, far from a $360 billion reduction in the national debt in FY1998-FY2000, there was an increase of $281 billion.

Verifying this is as simple as accessing the U.S. Treasury (see note about this link below) website where the national debt is updated daily and a history of the debt since January 1993 can be obtained. Considering the government's fiscal year ends on the last day of September each year, and considering Clinton's budget proposal in 1993 took effect in October 1993 and concluded September 1994 (FY1994), here's the national debt at the end of each year of Clinton Budgets..."

Sophist Economicus's picture

Agreed.  The the author forgets that Nixon had one of two choices -- CLOSE the gold window OR ship all of the remaining gold to other countries.    Nixon didn't create the budget deficits, Vietnam war, the WAR ON POVERTY (ha ha), etc.    And if I remember correctly, both houses of congress were OVERWHELMING populated by democrats.

citta vritti's picture

actually it's all gone downhill since Washington, still our greatest president. as for where to lay blame, each President has inherited the accumulated sins (let's be moral about this) of his predecessors and, more particularly, those of the Congresses of his predecessors -- takes two (or three) to tango. For the income tax and Federal Reserve Acts, blame Wilson. For imperial jingoism, blame the Congress under McKinley. For expanded federal bureaucratic tendencies, blame Lincoln and FDR, and add Truman. For allowing the military-industrial-Congressional complex to grow beyond outside (or inside) control, blame Eisenhower (who did, however, warn about it). and blame JFK, LBJ, Nixon, Carter, Reagan, Bush I, Clinton and the rest for whatever you want. They deserve it, but at least equally deserving are the other real culprits: Congress and the Fed. And, of course, we ourselves who allowed it to happen in the name of patriotism and Amerca, f*ck yeah.

El Viejo's picture

Nixon, could get immediate results. I was in Japan when he devalued the dollar. It went from 360yen / $1.00 to 180yen / $1.00 and continued on for years after that. You simply cannot blame a president for the spend thrift ways of congress. They have been buying votes ever since 1776.

spiral_eyes's picture

Actually there was another choice. 

America could have changed her consumption habits, which is what you do in a free market if your consumption habits leads to a consequence you don't like or are scared by.

Umh's picture

Nixon and his predecessors could have admitted that inflation had occurred and accurately valued the U.S. dollar.


StychoKiller's picture

To paraphrase Doonesbury:  "Nixon in 2012!  He's tanned, he's rested, he's ready!"

Rainman's picture

Thanks for the link on the Slick Willy Surplus of the biggest Democratic fairy tales of all time.

GeorgeHayduke's picture

Remember, Clinton had a Republican House led by that pompous ass Newt Gingrich for several years. It takes Congress to pass a budget too. BOTH parties are really just one party that exist to carry water for their corporate buddies. All the while enriching themselves of course. After all, that is the American Way.

By its nature, federal politics (and state and often local) attract scumbag salesmen, powerseekers, and avaricious assholes. Once you see how the game works, expecting anyone of integrity to run for office is foolish. After being born in the USA and watching my fellow citizens/consumers for 5 decades, these are exactly the kind of people the majority of Americans deserve in office.

Seize Mars's picture

Good point about the illusory Clinton surplus.

Nevertheless you have to admit it's a great article. Especially the bit about Kissinger serving as architecht.


hussaifa's picture

Agreed - "Aziz" should get his facts straight before displaying his ignorance. 

spiral_eyes's picture

"the man who turned a projected trillion dollar surplus into the greatest deficits in world history"

Lednbrass's picture

But as a point of fact, they were not the greatest deficits in history, his successor has passed him by a handy margin.

I really didnt think it was possible, but BO managed to make W look fiscally responsible in caomparison.

spiral_eyes's picture

Correct, but they were the greatest at the time, and had Bush not embarked upon his corporate handout/ military Keynesianism/ surveillance (etc) spending, we would have been much, much nearer those projections. Obama has done a lot of damage since, too. They're both Nixonians.

krispkritter's picture

I've used that to point out to my related Liberal/Democrat Bush-haters that they are wrong and that they can't believe everything they hear from the MSM and DNC. I get blank stares and 'Nuh uh!'. Too funny...two parties, one problem.

Old saying: 'Don't fix the blame. Fix the problem'


PS. Loved your movie...

Spaceman Spiff's picture

Amen! Drives me up a wall when I hear the media tout the mythical surplus.

Debt levels never went down. So no surplus. (Some try to counter that surpluses by law must buy treasuries... so they still spent that money to buy debt which funded other spending.)

spiral_eyes's picture

"the man who turned a projected trillion dollar surplus into the greatest deficits in world history"

hangemhigh's picture


“Annoying that the author can't get through the first couple of sentences without getting his facts wrong. I'm not fan of George W. Bush-- he was an awful RINO-- but he didn't start with a budget surplus.”

the truth about the ‘surpluses’ is even more reckless and destructive than that.  though clinton did have one small $1.9B operating budget surplus in 1999, all of the other ‘surpluses’ were the result of a special brand of budget math that included social security surpluses as part of the  general budget. 

that ‘special math’ was possible because of legislation passed under LBJ  that created something called the ‘unified budget’.  The ‘unified budget’ treated general and social security revenues as a single budget item that conveniently understated Great Society budget shortfalls.  

as for social security, following a series of deficits in the late 70’s-early 80’s, the 1982 greenspan commission on social security recommended a series of tax hikes to increase funding.  the witholding rate was increased from 6.7% to 7.65% (that’s a 15% tax hike under a republican administration) and the income base was raised, too.

in effect, after 1983 everyone paying into social security was charged an upfront premium in the form of a higher tax rate to prefund the escalating costs associated with preserving the systems solvency. 

Between 1983 and 2008, republican and democratic administrations in the white house and congress used the resulting $1.5t in surplus social security revenues to fund an endless stream of  huge budget deficits caused by tax cuts, foreign wars and out of control spending on special interest/pork programs.

before  clinton left office(6/26/200) he made the mistake of crowing about the alleged ’$1.9t  in budget surpluses that would accrue over the next decade’.  w bush used that statement as leverage to get another massive round of tax cuts passed even though the federal government was already $6t in debt and all of the phantom tax cut funding was surplus  social security revenues.  

There never were any surpluses anywhere other than those in social security retirement funds……all of that money was used as a slush fund and looted by our one party kleptocrats.   


SOURCE : The Looting of Social Security by Allen W Smith   ISBN 978-0-9770851-9-4


steve from virginia's picture


Hate to rain on yr parade, Buckaroo, but that paragon of pinko liberalism Alan Greenspan indicated a government surplus during Clinton years:


The debt isn't a problem anyway: problems start when the rate of debt expansion slows down.


If the govt. debt slows down there are fewer funds available to service private sector debt. The public sector deficit = private sector surplus.


Private sector debt is expanding so the wonderful economy is 'growing' and 'recovering'. To fund private debt service the public debt/deficit must expand. Otherwise: bankers from Mars w/ bags of money.


Have a nice day :)

Stroke's picture

My blood boils when I think of that piece of shit & how he let 58,000 men & women die so we could get cheap sneakers from VietNam....

Bicycle Repairman's picture

Cheap sneakers?  That's what it was all about? You're probably right.  Sad.

Assetman's picture

Sock It To Me?????????????

Woodyg's picture

Nixon's trifecta 1. ending bretton woods 2. War on drugs 3. Opening china

Peole say it was the Reagan revolution that irrevocably changed America but the seeds were planted by Nixon.

But let's admit it most of us haven't been alive long enough to see a decent president - And if you are sorry for all your hard work we pissed away into the wind.

Dr. No's picture

What was wrong with opening China?  I am thankful everytime I turn on my price supressed computer, phone, [insert any electronic device or cheap disposable good].

Woodyg's picture

Race to the bottom - and it allowed us to see that commie bastards are fine IF they help empower the corporation.....

Showing the arms race to be a sham.......

But I'm thinking you know what's wrong w china.... And was meant as sarcasm -

If not pull your head out!

mayhem_korner's picture



I would argue that Woodrow Wilson and FDR are the godfathers of the trajectory to the welfare state in the U.S.  The political "system" has complemented (exacerbated?) that trajectory along the way with many stooges and ill-advised chief executives.  But for my (pre-1981) two cents, those two get the prize. 

Buckaroo Banzai's picture

Really, it all started with Abraham Lincoln-- he is the foundational villain of our sad present-day story. By crushing states' rights, suborning the Constitution, and setting the precedent for unlimited Executive and Federal power, he laid the groundwork for Wilson and FDR's subsequent dirty work.

The Republic died at Appomatox. Lincoln was the Julius Caesar of the modern era. Went out the same way, too. Sic Semper Tyrannus.

TheDriver's picture

As a Virginian and Jeffersonian Democrat, I feel compelled to correct the spelling -- Sic semper tyrannis. Or were you referring to Death to one of the largest land carnivores of all time?

NotApplicable's picture

Of course, the "Republic" itself was but a coup, taking out the Articles of Confederation and replacing them wholesale with a whole new form of centralized goernment. This would be the reason they kept all of the doors and windows closed even though they were in the midst of the sweltering summer heat.

But, as always, winners write the official history, and all is seen as good.

Buckaroo Banzai's picture

Indeed. Empirically, it is clear that the Constitution has been an abject failure. It's like Keynesianism: sounds great on paper, but fails in execution due to inherent deficiencies in human nature. A return to the Articles of Confederation (or something very much like them) is realistically the only way out of our present predicament.

narapoiddyslexia's picture

Until the power of corporations [including banks as a sub-species] is constrained, there is no point.

Buckaroo Banzai's picture

Yes, but that is a symptom of the underlying problem (an unworkable Constitution) rather than the problem itself. If you read up on how Corporations were enthroned in the late 19th century, it all happened perfectly legally starting with a Supreme Court decision.

kridkrid's picture

we "lost" when the anti-federalists "lost".  The federalists were much better propagandists... as is evidenced in the framing of the discussion... federalist vs. ANTI federalists. - thougthful clip on the very subject.

mayhem_korner's picture

it is clear that the Constitution has been an abject failure. It's like Keynesianism: sounds great on paper, but fails in execution due to inherent deficiencies in human nature


Until now, I'd never imagined one could portray Keynesianism as analagous to the Constitution.  I agree with the human nature point being the enemy of the concept of the Constitution, but I don't agree that Keynesianism sounds great on paper, or ever did.

Buckaroo Banzai's picture

In fairness to Keynes, one of his bedrock assumptions is that government spending can be managed responsibly (increasing in recessions, decreasing in booms). If you accepted his assumption, then his conclusion works.

Obviously, governments are incapable of managing spending responsibly for any sustained period of time-- history is 100% clear about this. So obviously it is a bad assumption.

Similarly, if a centralized government is created on paper that spans a very large constituency, that government will expand into a tyranny given enough time-- no matter what type of limitations you try to put on paper. History is 100% clear on this, as well.

thatthingcanfly's picture

Jefferson recognized the bit about size and scope. It was not anticipated that These United States would grow to span such a large land mass and still consider themselves one "Union." Jefferson also was an advocate of a State's right to secede from this voluntary union. The fact that history books refer to the War of Northern Aggression as "The American Civil War," when it was in fact the polar opposite of a civil war, is a testament to how decisive Linclon the Terrible's victory over the Jeffersonians indeed was.

The Constution worked great for its 1st 70 years.

narapoiddyslexia's picture

The Republic died aborning, as they used to say, when the drafters of the constitution left out the part about corporations not being people, and about corporations not purchasing the freely available prostitutes in Congress.

Buckaroo Banzai's picture

The problem with your argument is that it implies that the Constitution could be perfected. The problem with the Constitution is not with its specific wording (or lack thereof), but its scope, which was too large. There is a threshold size above which any government will expand to tyranny. Unfortunately the Constitution defined a central government that simply had too large an ambit.

The Articles of Confederation, on the other hand, accommodated 13 different states, any of which were too small to effectively grow into the monster that the Federal government has now become.