George Will: Obama versus Nixon

George Will served his apprenticeship in journalism as the Washington editor of National Review from 1972 to 1978. For his first two years on the job he drove NR readers nuts with his biweekly columns mercilessly exposing the crimes and deceit of the friends of Richard Nixon in the Watergate escapades. In his history of National Review, former NR senior editor Jeffrey Hart describes Will in mid-1973: “National Review‘s new Washington columnist George Will began to perfect the style of political comment that combined relentless logic with understated scorn for felons and fools and would make him famous.”

Professor Hart mentions Will’s treatment of Spiro Agnew in particular: “His handling of the upcoming Spiro Agnew scandal would alienate some at National Review as too severe a way to treat a friend, but it was also just, and it impressed a national audience with his integrity.”

Today Will addresses the case of Barack Obama. He compares and contrasts Obama with Nixon, adjudging Obama as in some respects worse than Nixon. That’s a powerful judgment powerfully rendered, and I think the context of Will’s career adds to its heft.

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