Remembering Richard Nixon

GENERIC watergate nixon silhouette deep throat
This column was written by CBS News Early Show Co-Anchor Harry Smith.
I've been sitting here listening to the various news reports about the identification of "Deep Throat." It's a secret that's baffled Washington watchers for years. It all just makes me think about Richard Nixon. Nixon was a bad guy but, he was brilliant politician.

(Click here to listen to MP3 of Harry Smith's commentary.)

Wow, wow, wow, hear me out. I said politician -- not president, (though we can save that discussion for another time).

A politician is the guy who gets you to vote for him. Nixon was good at that. He'd fallen from politics, promised to never come back: "You won't have Richard Nixon to kick around any more" and was elected president. Twice.

Nixon was neither glib nor charismatic. And Nixon, like plenty of other politicians, didn't mind playing dirty. Remember the pink lady? He labeled Helen Gahagan Douglas a communist in their senate race and never looked back.

Of course Watergate was him at his worst. The lies. The deception. Disgraced, he went into isolation in San Clemente and started writing books. He wrote about policy. He wrote about his presidency and worked like a dog to re-ingratiate himself to the American people. I interviewed him several times during that rehabilitation period. He could be downright charming. Nixon's final political victory, and maybe his most significant, was his funeral. Once disgraced, a pariah -- all the living presidents gathered to say goodbye.

As for deep throat being an FBI guy -- Nixon's response would not have been printable.

Harry's daily commentary can be heard on manyCBS Radio News affiliates across the country.

By Harry Smith