Blog Archives

Remembering Nixon

Details about the Watergate scandal are still emerging, almost forty years after the botched burglary and subsequent cover-up consumed the presidency of Richard Milhous Nixon. Earlier this month, Nixon’s grand jury testimony fromthe Watergate trial was finally released, as per judicial mandate. Obviously, Nixon’s legacy will always be marred by the Watergate scandal and the subsequent revelations about his use of presidential power to punish his political enemies.

This is just. His administration misused the great power it was handed; his cover-up and handling of the Watergate scandal (including the “Saturday Night Massacre,” in which he fired the special prosecutor investigating Watergate), and his resignation amid impeachment proceedings led to national trauma and constitutional crisis.

Yet, it is important to remember Nixon’s other legacies as well. Somewhere behind that iconic scowl was the vulnerable boy who watched two of his brothers die young, who felt guilty because his college education was paid for with money that had been earmarked for his dead brother’s medical care.

Nixon surely could not compete with John F. Kennedy’s sex appeal, but his courting of Pat Nixon is a lesson in loyalty and determination. Certain that Pat was he soul mate, he withstood her initial rebuffs, and even drove her to dates with other boys, before he was finally given his own chance.

His friendship with John F. Kennedy is often underplayed. The two were elected to Congress in the same year, and held similar views: both internationalists, both determined to confront communism, both skeptical of the New Deal. The Kennedy family covertly contributed $1,000 to Nixon’s senate campaign, and both JFK and his father, Joe Kennedy, said they would vote Nixon in 1960 if Kennedy was not on the Democratic ticket.

Despite contrary appearances, Kennedy was in poor health most of his life, and was administered the Catholic Church’s last rites several times. When it seemed Kennedy would pass away in the 1950s, Nixon cried for the imminent loss of his friend.

Of course, Nixon and Kennedy were also quite different — and the vicious 1960 election marked a sharp end to their friendship. Nixon, like many of his supporters thought that Kennedy had stolen the election through fraudulent ballots. Kennedy seemed to be everything Nixon loved and loathed, all in one. Kennedy was a wealthy “elite,” unlike the working class Nixon. He was smart, sexy, and media-savvy. These things were anathema to Nixon. The Whittier College grad distrusted the ‘Ivy Leaguers’ and their ‘elite clubs’ as much as he distrusted a media he was always certain was out to destroy his reputation and career.

And Kennedy was loved. That seems to be what Nixon longed for: he wanted the respect and the love of the America people. After the National Guard killed several people at Kent State, Nixon made an impromptu visit to student protesters camped at the Lincoln Memorial in the dead of night. He spoke to the unimpressed crowd at length about what he was trying to accomplish for America, about improving race relations and, when that failed, about college football.

Despite his frustration at the protestors that he claimed ‘weakened’ America’s position abroad and caused (again, in his view) unnecessary conflict at home, Nixon nevertheless seems to have desired their approval and love.

He felt as if he had earned them. After all, Nixon took the reins of the presidency during the most unpopular war in American history and earnestly wanted to draw the war to a close. In 1960, he considered pulling the troops out of Vietnam over the next year and a half, though Kissinger talked him out of it. He reached out to the North Vietnamese for peace talks, though in the end he kept the United States snarled in the Vietnam War while doggedly pursuing his “peace with honor.”

He pushed for a volunteer army, rather than a draft. He created the Environmental Protection Agency and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. He created the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program for the elderly and disabled. He proposed universal health care.  He opened up diplomatic relations with communist China, while his political allies howled at home. He pursued detente with the Soviet Union.

Nixon truly believed he was a man of the people; he saw himself as the spokesman for the “Silent Majority.”

We should not overlook, nor excuse, his failures. Clearly, Watergate and the misuse of executive power had a profound effect on the country. But neither should we ignore his successes. In the end, Nixon was neither the bloodthirsty villain his opponents decried, nor the perpetual victim he claimed to be. The truth, as always, was far more nuanced.

2011 Voter Guide

My blogs on the various midterm races seem to have gotten a bit spread out, so I’ll attempt to consolidate a bit. Follow the links to each of the blogs.

Also, if you’re not sure of your polling place or your district (and the officials that currently represent you), take a trip over to the Online Citizen’s Guide at the Committee of Seventy’s website. It is incredibly easy and quick. If you would like to see which candidates will be on the ballot in your area (and a basic profile on these candidates), visit SmartVoter and search by your address.

Want to know why you should vote at all this election? Read this.

Most of my focus has been on Lower Merion/Montgomery County races. For more information on Philadelphia/New Jersey races, visit SmartVoter or your local newspaper’s website.

Local news source voter guides include (with endorsements):

Other news sources do not have specific voter guides, but contain a lot of good information on the candidates and the election. Peruse your local newspaper’s website, if it is not listed here.

Hofman vs. Clement for Montco Coroner 2011

This November, Dr. Gordon Clement will challenge incumbent Dr. Walter Hofman for Montgomery County Coroner. Overviews of the candidates’ education,  credentials and priorities are below.

What does the Coroner do? Check out this description from the Montgomery County Coroner’s website:

The Coroner is charged by law with many responsibilities, the foremost of which is the investigation and certification of a variety of deaths including all deaths of other than natural causes, and any apparently natural deaths in which no physician can reasonably state the cause. The Coroner can utilize any and all medico­legal investigative techniques, including an autopsy, to establish both the medical cause of death, and mode or manner of death (natural, accident, homicide, suicide, or undetermined).

Note: Sources for the information are in parentheses. Where no source is indicated, the information was pulled from the candidates’ own website.

For Hofman’s campaign site, click here.
For Clement’s campaign site, click here.

- Walter Hofman

  • “Board certified in Anatomic, Clinical and Forensic Pathology”
  • “Pathology internship and residency at the Boston University and Harvard Medical School hospitals”
  • “Fellowship in Forensic Pathology at the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, Baltimore”
  • “Practiced pathology at Roxborough Memorial Hospital for over 20 years”
  • Medical Staff President, Roborough Memorial Hospital
  • Chairman of Laboratory Medicine, Roxborough Hospital
  • “Full clinical professor of pathology at Temple University Medical School”
  • “Associate clinical professor of pathology at the University of Pennsylvania Medical School”
  • Member, Departments of Legal Medicine and Forensic Sciences at the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology (AFIP)
  • Lieutenant Colonel, US Air Force Reserve
  • Chairperson, Montgomery County Medical Legal Committee
  • “Personally performed over 10,000 (ten thousand) autopsies, examined over 16000 (sixteen thousand) bodies and issued more than  17,000 (seventeen thousand) death certificates. “
  • “Reviewer for the peer reviewed monthly publication ‘Military Medicine’”
  • “Upgrade the existing computerized record system in order to track cases more efficiently, share information with other agencies, and provide information to the public.” (PhillyBurbs)

- Gordon Clement

  • University of Pennsylvania Graduate, BS
  • Hahnemann Medical School Graduate, MD
  • US Navy Officer’s Candidate School
  • Residency/Instructor in Surgery, University of Pennsylvania
  • Navy Captain (retired)
    • Military surgeon
  • Co-Founder/Medical Director, Montgomery County Emergency Medical Services
  • Faculty, Thomas Jefferson University
  • Medical Coordinator, Emergency Medical Technicians’ Training Course (Montgomery County)
  • Lecturer at Sacred Heart Hospital
  • Director, Center for Wound Healing & Hyperbaric Medicine, Mercy Suburban HospitalMercy
  • Staff, Montgomery Hospital
  • Staff, Mercy Suburban Hospital
  • Board Member, Plymouth Community Ambulance Association
  • “Instrumental in establishing the first walking and exercise trail in Montgomery County”
  • Implement his “Live Safely Initiative”
    • “Personally visiting each Montgomery County High School, Dr. Clement will talk to students about the negative effects of drinking and drugs”
  • Make forms/other services more available online (PhillyBurbs)

Castor/Brown vs. Shapiro/Richards for Montgomery County Commissioner 2011

This Election Day (November 8, 2011), Josh Shapiro will be challenging incumbent Bruce Castor for Montgomery County Commissioner. In this post, I’ve tried to list as much about the candidates’ platforms and stances as I could find.

For brief overviews of the candidates (and their resumes), visit the Committee of Seventy.

To visit Bruce Castor and Jenny Brown’s campaign site, click here.
To visit Josh Shapiro and Leslie Richard’s campaign site, click here.

(Note: For sources, click on the links in the bullet point. If a bullet point does not have a link, it came from the candidate’s campaign site)

- Economy

  • Castor/Brown
    • No tax increases
  • Shapiro/Richards
    • No tax increases
    • Use public-private partnerships to help spur economic growth
    • “They will appoint a jobs council comprised of leaders from the private sector, education, labor and the public to directly advise the commissioners”

- Taxing and Spending

  • Castor/Brown
    • Against tax increase.
    • Do not toll Route 422.
  • Shapiro/Richards
    • Against tax increase.
    • “Will conduct comprehensive reviews of county real estate holdings, use of technology, necessary infrastructure repairs and other aspects of county government” and use this information to increase government efficiency.
    • Do not toll Route 422

- Education

  • Castor/Brown
    • “[M]aintain our commitment to Montgomery County Community College”
  • Shapiro/Richards
    • Fully maintain Montgomery County’s share of funding for Montgomery County Community College
    • “[C]reate a well-staffed, well-funded Veterans Success Center at the county community college to ease the transition from military life to civilian life for students who are veterans.”

- Government Reform

  • Castor/Brown
    • “[R]econvene the campaign finance reform task force, appoint new members to the defunct group to review the task force’s earlier recommendations and to hold hearings on the recommendations.”
    • “[C]reate a home rule study commission to look at the government and decide whether the county would be better served by a council or executive director” — voters would also be consulted via referendum.
    • Fully fund government pensions; consider using pension obligation bonds to do so.
    • Broadcast commissioners’ meetings in their entirety, rather than edited
    • Publish county expenditures in online database
    • Tougher pay-to-play regulations in an attempt to stop no-bid contracts for campaign donors
    • Enact an “ethics policy” that would limit political involvement of commissioners’ staff in the county.
    • Public comment before each vote
  • Shapiro/Richards
    • Publish county spending in online database
    • Broadcast commissioners’ meetings in their entirety, rather than edited
    • Periodically hold commissioners’ meetings around the county

- Open Space

  • Castor/Brown
    • Preserve open space
  • Shapiro/Richards
    • Continue expanding county trail system/maintain current trails
    • Protect open space from over-development

- Transportation

  • Castor/Brown
    • Survey motorists about whether “whether they are using the roadway primarily to get to and from work,” then use the results to approach businesses about implementing flex hours to alleviate roadway congestion
    • Oppose tolling Route 422
  • Shapiro/Richards
    • Oppose tolling Route 422


The 2009 Election Voter Guide

In this blog post, I’ll list all of the candidates on the Philadelphia ballot and which ones the Philadelphia Inquirer and the Daily News are endorsing, respectively.

Each candidate’s name (in this blog) will link to his or her website.

The Committee of Seventy has a lot of good information on the candidates, including links, and also good information on the seats for which they are vying.

Here are the candidates:

PA Supreme Court Justice (1 Seat)

District Attorney (1 Seat)

City Controller (1 Seat)

PA Superior Court (4 Seats)

Commonwealth Court Judge (2 Seats)

7 Seats are available for Court of Common Pleas Judge, and there are only 7 candidates, so I will not list them (follow the link if you want to know more)

4 Seats are available for Municipal Court Judge, and there are only 4 candidates, so I will not list them (follow the link if you want to know more)


  • PA Supreme Court – Joan Orie Melvin (R)
  • District Attorney — Seth Williams (D)
  • City Controller — Al Schmidt (R)
  • PA Superior Court – Judy Olson (R)
    Robert Colville (D)
    Anne Lazarus (D)
    Teresa Sarmina (D)
  • PA Commonwealth Court — Linda Judson (D)
    Kevin Brobson (R)


  • District Attorney — Seth Williams (D)
  • City Controller – Alan Butkovitz (D)

Follow some links, read up, get out and vote! Polling places open 7am – 8pm.