For my blog post today about Nixon: Ruin and Recovery, 1973-1990, I'll talk about something that Stephen Ambrose says on page 405:
remarked, 'In destroying himself, Nixon had wrecked the lives of almost
all who had come into contact with him.' That was hardly true.
Kissinger was not destroyed by Watergate; if anything, his reputation
was enhanced. So was Haig's. St. Clair and Buzhardt returned to their
private law practices with no difficulty. Bush, Price, Ziegler, and
other associates had successful post-Watergate careers. Speechwriters
Buchanan and John McLaughlin became media stars. Safire became a
leading columnist on the nation's number-one newspaper; it helped that
he got out at the right time. The men whose careers were badly damaged,
if not destroyed, by Watergate were, above all, Haldeman, Ehrlichman,
Mitchell, and Colson. These were the men Nixon had thrown to the wolves
in his effort to save himself."
passage disappoints me because it makes no mention at all of Charles
Colson's work in prison ministry. Even if Ambrose were judging success
by such criteria as fame and money, Colson could be said to have been a
success on those fronts, as well. Colson became an evangelical
superstar and a best-selling author. In my opinion, he had a successful
post-Watergate career in his own right.
Ambrose deem Colson's prison ministry work to be insignificant because
it did not fit his definition of success? I really don't know, to tell
you the truth. Ambrose in his writing does not come across as the sort
of person who measures success solely by fame and money, for,
notwithstanding his patent cynicism, he is sensitive to acknowledging
human goodness wherever he sees it. Maybe Ambrose was not familiar with
what was going on in the world of evangelical Christianity. I really
Incidentally, one book that I liked that valued spiritual success was William Martin's With God On Our Side: The Rise of the Religious Right in America.
This book talked about people who had a high profile in the religious
right, but they left that behind to become humble servants.