Hello and happy May Day. Or as it is known in Great Britain: Labour Day. And elsewhere: International Workers Day. To recognize the honorable notion of human labor, which is celebrated today everywhere but here, our friend Richard von Busack shares a tale of eight jobs that he has held over the course of many years in order to fund his writing habit. His essay will make you grin and grimace.
You may not know that May 1 is also Law Day in the United States, declared as such by Richard Nixon via proclamation in 1969. Citing “rising crime rates, urban rioting, and violent campus protests,” the soon-to-be-disgraced president stated the following with a straight face: “We must recognize a clear duty to obey the laws …”. And then, “equal justice under law is the bedrock of the American system.”
Just a few evenings ago, at the Sacramento Speakers Series, I heard the great presidential historian Michael Beschloss quote Nixon on the topic of law. Beschloss (whom you may know from The PBS News Hour or The Rachel Maddow Show) referred to the famous marathon interview conducted in 1977 by the TV host David Frost, in which Nixon said the following with a straight face: "When the President does it, that means that it is not illegal."
Beschloss, who has the measured, patrician manner of a scholar, could not disguise that fact that he hates Nixon. Part of his animosity seems to stem from the fact that Nixon tried to have his taped White House conversations and other presidential records destroyed after he learned that their existence had been revealed; as an historian, obviously, Beschloss has a profound commitment to the preservation of the historical record.
Beyond that, Beschloss’s contempt for Nixon clearly results from the fact that the man did not respect the rule of law. Beschloss spoke at some length about his belief that the rule of law is the keystone principle of democracy. (I’ve since learned that he will deliver a keynote address in Chicago in a couple weeks on presidential power as it relates to the rule of law, so the subject is top-of-mind for him right now.)
Of course, he also addressed this subject as it regards Donald Trump. That is a topic for another day.