The fallacy of Nixon's graceful exit

By Gerald Posner

Published November 14, 2000 8:41AM (EST)

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One does not have to be a Richard Nixon fan to see that, even granting the facts as Posner states them, there is, in truth, a very significant difference between what Nixon did in 1960 and what Al Gore is doing now. That difference -- Nixon's timely concession and Gore's refusal to concede -- is the single stark fact that has turned this year's election into the circus that it now is.

Few people would begrudge any candidate the right to insist on as fair and accurate a voting process as is humanly possible. But if Gore were to follow Nixon's example, he would -- on the basis of the best evidence at the time of the election -- officially concede the contest as Nixon did. He would allow preparations for an orderly transition process to begin, while at the same time pursuing within a reasonable time frame whatever legitimate further investigation might be relevant to affirm or deny the apparent election results.

I suspect that most Americans, regardless of political persuasion, would be fair-minded enough to accept the reversal of initial election results if the evidence ultimately indicated there was no other honest choice. But when it appears a candidate is simply unwilling to accept gracefully a close defeat, those who cast their votes can hardly be faulted for supposing that that person is more concerned with his own welfare than the welfare of his country.

-- Glenn R. Kennedy

Amen to Gerald Posner! Incredibly, self-serving, partisan conservatives, in pointing to a "selfless," "saintly" Nixon of 1960, seem to completely forget the more lasting image Nixon left us with 14 years later when he resigned his office in abject disgrace. One need only look to that regrettable period of our history to see that Nixon cared little about the Constitution, fair play or the rule of law in our country. Somehow, nonetheless, ol' Tricky Dick seems to have managed to get the last laugh in the perpetuation of this "angelic 1960 Nixon" myth. Thank you, Mr. Posner, for exposing the myth for what it is!

-- T. McGivern

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