Alexandra Petri: A flabbergasted Richard Nixon revises his resignation speech

President Richard Nixon makes his farewell address to the White House staff, Aug. 9, 1974, as his daughter Julie Nixon Eisenhower and her husband David stand by. (AP Photo)

He left. I don’t leave.

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Boy, I feel like a goof, watching the Trump administration in action! My notion of what mistakes I made was wrong. In fact, my mistake was leaving. Consequently, I would like to amend a good deal the speech in which I originally resigned:

I have never been a quitter. To leave office before my term is completed is abhorrent to every instinct in my body. So, I think, I won't.

I thought erroneously that America needs a full-time president and a full-time Congress, particularly at this time with problems we face at home and abroad; in fact, we just need someone who can occasionally swoop in on Air Force One to redecorate it in patriotic trim before jetting off again to the golf club.

To continue to fight through the months ahead for my personal vindication would almost totally absorb the time and attention of both the president and the Congress — but, honestly, that has never stopped me before and is no reason to now. The last thing America needs is undivided attention; we should fracture it into as many bits as possible so that, in case I ever implement a policy that is really atrocious, people will be too exhausted to notice.

I thought it made sense to say that, "As we look to the future, the first essential is to begin healing the wounds of this nation, to put the bitterness and divisions of the recent past behind us," but actually, no. Actually, it is better to maintain and increase whatever division there already is. Everyone who disagrees with me or does not support me to a degree I consider sufficient is bad. Everyone who supports me is good only until they bore me or do something that I think makes them look silly.

America does not need healing.

America needs more crimes. I thought my mistake was the crime, but actually, my mistake was feeling that if you had done crimes, you might want to leave office. After the break-in, what I should have done was appear in public and say, you know, if anyone wants to burgle another office to try to get dirt on my opponent, you know where to find me! I'm listening! I think it's fine! Seems like a good way to get information. Nuts to the FBI!

Take the Saturday Night Massacre. I thought that was daring greatly! But if instead of stopping there, I had just kept firing more people and told a large crowd that my new attorney general was the kind of great guy who might be sympathetic to my ideas about locking up my political opponents, I would still be in the clear? I guess?

I thought I lied too much, but it seems as though, actually, I did not lie enough.

I also regret deeply any injuries that may have been done in the course of the events that led to this decision — by other people. I would say only that if some of my judgments were wrong (but of course none of them were, and everyone who says they were is a conspiracist and a witch!), they were made in what I believed at the time to be the best interest of the nation, to the extent that I personally am a part of the nation.

Another mistake I made was offering to pay my back taxes. Oh, and disclosing my finances in that Checkers speech. Really, Checkers in general, I'm afraid. Instead of accepting that small, lovable dog, I should have set up a mechanism to accept things of much greater value and even set up a special hotel where people could come and funnel money directly toward a business from which I had not yet divested. As an emolument, he was a failure. Also, he shed.

To have served in this office is to have felt a very personal sense of kinship with each and every American, except those, er, haters and losers who voted for my opponent. And that is why I am staying, and will not leave, and nothing you can do as a nation will successfully shame me into making me leave. I will not expand the production of peace — only the production of my wealth. My wife will dress in the fanciest of coats, not Republican cloth. The American people do not deserve to know whether their president is a crook.

It is not the original scandal, or the coverup, it turns out. It is the shame that gets you.

Alexandra Petri | The Washington Post

Alexandra Petri is a Washington Post columnist offering a lighter take on the news and opinions of the day. She is the author of “A Field Guide to Awkward Silences.”