By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter
In the last few minutes of the 1977 Frost/Nixon interview, a very human moment occurred when Richard Nixon said,
“I let down my friends, I let down the Country, I let down our system of Government….”
If you have ever viewed the tapes and/or watched the film, Frost/Nixon, it is a profound admission of guilt. Most of the country had waited years for Nixon to confess—at least in some measure—to the wrongs he had committed and the needless pain and shame he had brought to our Republic.
Some today would like to rewrite history and whitewash over the Nixon incident all together. But in those seconds, Nixon did not try to wash away his sins, rather, he owned them before hundreds of millions of people.
As the camera focused in on his swollen and tired face he continued,
“…and the dreams of all those young people that ought to get into Government, but will think it is all too corrupt and the rest…”
Nixon was a man capable of seeing into the future and how actions shaped events, how certain events would affect attitudes and thusly change the country.
He saw that many good young men and women would turn from public service because of his corrupt acts.
Many politicians have done terrible things, but none have been so fully played out on the National stage.
Nixon is a tragic figure, a man of immense talent and intellect, yet, he had a fearsome dark side that would eventually be his undoing.
Sadly today, we see rampant corruption in the Alabama State House. Greed and a lust for power stinks like a rotting corpse and it permeates every corridor and every office.
Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard along with his followers have infected the political process with a deadly disease; one that can only be cured by amputation.
Even under the shadow of a Grand Jury investigation Hubbard and his minions continue to pass legislation that will enrich themselves and their cronies.
Nixon was a brilliant man capable of great things. Hubbard is like a child with an exaggerated sense of self. He doesn’t have the capacity for greatness, so, he plays the politics of distraction and destruction.
There is a flat screen television in Hubbard’s office that plays a continuous photo loop of Hubbard standing with famous people. In one shot he is standing alone in front of Air Force One. It is really a sad picture because he is standing so far away from the airplane. One could feel sorry from him, if he had not destroyed so many lives in his rise to power.
All Hubbard has achieved is to become a small tyrant, in the small world of Alabama politics.
He could have done great things for our State, rather, he chose a different path.
What must the wee hours of the night be like for a man like Hubbard? Does he sleep in peace or do specters of the men and women he has wronged haunt him? Does he wake with a start and play out a scenario in which a courtroom and a jail cell looms for him in the near future? Does he think about the shame he will bring on his family, friends and the State? Does he think about those young people he has influenced who will either give up on politics–or worse–imitate him?
After Nixon was broken, he actually realized the nature of his crime. I doubt Hubbard has that capacity.
Most people when confronted with their wrongdoing are not sorry for what they did but sorry they they were caught.
In those minutes when Nixon confessed to Frost I believe he was truly sorry for what he had done.
I wonder if Hubbard will have such a moment?
He is a tiny vessel perhaps incapable of any depth of reflection. It took years for our Country to recover from the sins of Nixon. Some believe we never have, while others claim its affect on America was minimal.
It will take Alabama time to right the wrongs caused by Hubbard and his followers. But, we will heal sooner than later if good men and women are elected to public office who have not been tainted by Hubbard’s corruption.
As with Nixon, Hubbard’s life will be a cautionary tale, one that shows when you steal the State House, your theft will be uncovered and payment by a righteous system of justice will be exacted.