Democracy Dies in Darkness

Letters to the Editor | Opinion

‘Nattering nabobs’ or no, Agnew’s place in history is not obscure

September 11, 2018 at 5:37 PM

Vice President Spiro T. Agnew gestures during an Aug. 8, 1973, Washington news conference in which he told reporters he would not resign. (AP Photo/AP)

In his Sept. 4 Tuesday Opinion column, “Spiro Agnew, the Trump before Trump,” Richard Cohen offered a fascinating historical parallel between the corruption associated with former vice president Spiro T. Agnew and that of our current president, Donald Trump. In introducing the subject, however, Mr. Cohen mistakenly described Agnew as a “now-obscure vice president.” Such a claim of obscurity for Agnew is unfounded, however, given certain characteristics unique to Agnew’s legacy.

Agnew (the 39th vice president, who served from 1969 to 1973) was the one and only vice president to resign in disgrace from office (having pleaded nolo contendere to charges of tax evasion). After the Watergate scandal and President Richard M. Nixon’s resignation in 1974, Agnew will forever be associated with Nixon’s thoroughly corrupt presidential administration. And, as vice president, Agnew once criticized opponents and the press as the “nattering nabobs of negativism.” Certainly, no “obscure” vice president could be associated with such an inglorious political legacy. That is, unless we’ve become so inured to corruption in the present environment that we have indeed become “nattering nabobs.”

Christopher Darius Jones, Falls Church

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