I always thought this was the best speech Richard Nixon ever gave.
Nearly 37 years on, I still remember watching it. And I remember being incredibly sad, though not as sad as my mother, who thought Nixon was the bee's knees and got railroaded by the communists.
But it was sad. It's never a happy affair when a man is brought to his knees, no matter how richly deserved and no matter how much his own doing.
IN AUGUST 1974, the republic was saved because the Constitution worked. Back then, no man was above the law. Even the president.
What was remarkable about this, Nixon's best speech, is that he could not have given it just days before. This was the speech of a broken man, a hated man, one who deep down inside knew he had done wrong.
It was a speech born of the wisdom of a sinner. It was the same wisdom David found after Nathan confronted him with his murderous sin -- the same grief later born of a heart broken by Absalom, the son who died in rebellion against him.
The wisdom of sin. And a heart softened by its brokenness.
We are a nation presently full of tragedy, and one that has seen much worse. We, however, are a nation with little sense of the tragic, but plenty taste for anger, strife, hatred and alienation.
We have yet to learn the one hard lesson Richard Nixon learned from the bitter fruit of his own sin:
"Always give your best, never get discouraged, never be petty; always remember others may hate you, but those who hate you don't win unless you hate them, and then you destroy yourself."