Sunday, July 08, 2007

Reality Check for Nixon's Lying Library

Congressmen who are frustrated by current White House stonewalling may want to look at how long it has taken to get out the truth about our 37th President.

This Wednesday, the Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum will re-open after being closed for months to tear out the Watergate Gallery, which for 17 years has been giving visitors a fictionalized version of events that led to his resignation--a “coup” led by his enemies with Woodward and Bernstein “offering bribes” to help distort their coverage.

In March, workers roped off the exhibits and began to destroy the cabinets and plexiglass-sandwiched documents with hammers, crowbars and electric saws.

In 1990, the Library had opened with ceremonies attended by three Republican presidents--Ford, Reagan and George H.W. Bush. What nobody seemed to notice was that Nixon had rewritten Watergate history, edited the crucial Oval Office tapes and omitted any mention of the dirty tricks, break-ins and other illegal activities that led to his impeachment and resignation.

This Alice-in-Wonderland version of Watergate was seen by almost three million visitors before the library, museum and Nixon’s birthplace in Yorba Linda, California were transferred to the National Archives this year, presumably for taxpayers to take over expenses that had previously been underwritten by private donors.

The new federal director ordered demolition of what one Nixon scholar called "another Southern California theme park" with “a level of reality only slightly better than Disneyland" and replace it with what he tactfully describes as less of “a shrine.”

The library will now have 78,000 pages of previously withheld papers and 800 hours of tapes as well as copies of “All the President’s Men” by Woodward and Bernstein in the book store.

One thing that won’t change is that the reproduced White House East Room will still be available “for weddings, bar mitzvahs and other events.”

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