Friday, 9 August 2019

well i’m not a crook—i’ve earned everything i’ve got

On this day in 1974, Richard Nixon (previously), embroiled by the Watergate scandal and having lost collegial confidence and faced with impeachment and removal, tendered his resignation as president of the United States of America, asking the nation to support his successor, vice president Gerald Ford. Defending his record with a preamble from Theodore Roosevelt’s 1910 address to the Sorbonne about grit and the “Man in the Arena” who perseveres before listing his accomplishments in office:

Sometimes I have succeeded and sometimes I have failed, but always I have taken heart from what Theodore Roosevelt once said about the man in the arena, “whose face is marred btydust and sweat and blood, who stives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again because there is not effort without error and shortcoming, but who does actually strive to do the deed, who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at the best knowns in the end the triumphs of high achievements and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly.”

Though not wholly decontextualised nor lost on his audience, there was a notable lack of candour, contrition or admission of wrong-doing with Nixon’s having quoted the same passage for his inaugural speech and Roosevelt’s originally included a rebuke of those critical players on the sidelines instead of in the arena.