Should President Nixon have been prosecuted or not? Why do you think this?Should President Nixon have been prosecuted or not? Why do you think this?

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larrygates eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I agree wholeheartedly with bullgatortail. Richard Nixon not only betrayed the trust of the American people, he committed a crime. Of course his legacy was destroyed; but that is hardly punishment enough for one who wantonly broke the law. Thomas Jefferson rightly surmised that all men are created equal. Any other person would have had a criminal record attached to his resume for his misconduct.

Impeachment (which Nixon narrowly avoided) is not punishment, but is to remove from the office a person unfit to occupy that office, which Nixon certainly was. Punishment comes from the accompanying prosecution. One who steals money from his company may lose his job and his reputation; but in almost every instance he is also prosecuted criminally, if for no other reason, to set an example for others. The prosecution of Richard Nixon would have been painful indeed; however it would demonstrate clearly that no person in this country is so high and mighty that justice cannot reach him.

enotechris eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Au contraire. "No man is above the law," even if it happens to be the President of the United States.  Only 2 other presidents have been impeached; certainly the same fate would have befallen Nixon had he not resigned.  But impeachment, and the ignominy it confers, only removes the president from office. Accountability for wrongdoing is another matter. What does it say about justice if those in power are not held accountable and punished for their crimes? Anyone in a lesser office would have stood trial. The Presidency should not confer immunity from the consequences of one's actions; it should instead, as a matter of public trust, confer deep responsibility. Having one president pardon another may have been politically expedient, but it implied that if president, one is immune from the consequences of one's actions.


bullgatortail eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Oh, boy. I sure don't agree with several of the earlier posts that suggest that America should have "moved on" and forgiven Richard Nixon for his many violations of the law. As the 5th post mentioned, "no man is above the law," and I don't like the idea of giving a pass to lawbreakers for any reason. Nixon's former vice president, Spiro Agnew, went to prison for his mistakes, and so should have Nixon. President Ford began his term by secretly pardoning Nixon and then lying about it for years to come--another shameless act by an administration that will best be remembered for its endless lies and deceptive practices. Perhaps if Nixon had been prosecuted, future presidents (such as G. W. Bush) would not feel as comfortable raining down their deception and corruption amongst the people they are elected to serve.

pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I do not think that President Nixon should have been prosecuted.  I believe that President Ford did the right thing by pardoning him so as to avoid a prosecution.

I have two reasons for saying this.  First, nothing that prosecutors could have done would have been a greater punishment to Nixon than what did happen to him.  Once he became the first (and so far only) president to be forced from office, his legacy was destroyed.  This is a terrible punishment for a public figure.  Second, a prosecution would have prolonged what Ford called our "national nightmare."  It was better to just put Watergate behind us so that we would not have to be put through a long trial of Nixon with the partisan bickering that it would have caused.

So, I do not think that prosecuting Nixon would have done any good.

lmetcalf eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The country was devastated by the whole scandal and the fact that they lost a commander in chief under such ignoble circumstances.  Any more attention to this mess would have only served to further undermine the attention and confidence of the citizens in their government in an already volatile time in our history. The country had to move on and face its other crises in regards to the economy and the immediate aftermath of the Vietnam war, among other things.

ask996 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I agree with Pohnpei. There would have been nothing to gain by prosecuting President Nixon. His legacy, his reputation, his legacy, and any future political career were trashed. I don't even think he was left with anything he could profit from on the lecture circuit or through the publishing world. What more could prosecution have done?

lrwilliams eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I have to agree that President Nixon should have been tried for his crimes and sentenced to whatever punishment was deemed correct in a court room. I think that we have to make certain that all people, even the President of the United States, must be held accountable for their actions.

litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The main reasons for not prosecuting Nixon would be to save the country further embarrassment and to prevent further division.  Our country was at a very low point then.  Drawing out the process would have only made things worse in the long run.