You have to hand it to the Republicans. They have a fiendish ability to rehabilitate the toxic reputations of their previous presidents by having the party’s new nominee be even worse.

Let’s start with Nixon. Often unhelpfully moist, he was ruthless, conniving, unstable, dissembling, and forgiving of criminal acts as long as they were perpetrated on his behalf. Promised to end the Vietnam War, which he did by extending it five more years, bombing other countries, and adding the names of more than 21,000 American soldiers to the death toll. Anti-Semitic and racist. Hostile to the press and criminal to the opposition—Watergate was a catalogue of assaults on decency, the law, and the Constitution. Only president in history to resign, and when he did, the sane and the decent between and beyond our borders heaved a sigh of relief: “He’s gone, thank God, the worst is behind us.”