Letter: Nixon the liberal

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Sir: Richard Nixon was not only a liberal President ("Can Nixon be rehabilitated?" 23 August); Watergate apart, he was the most liberal America has ever had. It is a continuing mystery why the American left fails to recognise one of its own.

Nixon's early reputation as an arch-conservative stemmed primarily from his role in the conviction of Alger Hiss for perjury. Yet Nixon's stand has been vindicated by history: Soviet intelligence cables intercepted and decrypted under the Venona Project and declassified in 1995 prove that Hiss, so far from being the victim of crude Red-baiting, was a Communist agent.

As President, Nixon's wage and price controls (which failed in their purpose of controlling inflation) were the most extensive intervention in the economy that any administration has undertaken in peacetime. At the same time, the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency greatly added to the costs of business.

Nixon's foreign policy - rapprochement with China, promotion of detente with the Soviet Union and steady disengagement from Vietnam - was marked by a reluctance to confront Communism.


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