The tour guide at the Nixon Library in Yorba Linda, California, an energetic and enthusiastic woman of about Isaac's vintage, painted a sympathetic portrait of our 37th president. For example, she described the 1960 presidential election as a contest between a highly intelligent vice president seasoned with eight years in the administration, experienced in foreign policy, with a steady hand, against a naive and inexperienced playboy. She did reluctantly admit that John Kennedy was handsome and attractive, and Richard Nixon . . . "well, he had to work with what he had." The Nixon Library did have a remarkably fair and balanced depiction of Watergate and the events that led up to President Nixon resigning the office, installed after Mr. Nixon died to replace the exhibit that he had approved.
Three things struck me. One was when our guide, in talking about the famous people who had visited the Nixon Library, told us that Justice Brennan had visited the Library a year or two ago and was very impressed with it. Justice Brennan died in 1997. The second thing was when she mentioned that the British had burned the White House in World War II, conflating a war in which we were allies with a war 130 years earlier in which we weren't.
The third thing was one of the delicious ironies which is either a complete coincidence or the result of an Isaac-like humorist at work behind the scenes. On the bus to the Library, our group was shown a half-hour film about President Nixon, produced in the early 1990s with the President's cooperation. (He died in 1994.) The film had to discuss the Watergate scandal, which it did -- almost exactly 18-1/2 minutes after the film started. A coincidence? You be the judge.