Fox’s Wallace defends Bush at screening

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“And the fact is that we sit here so comfortably, and the country has not been attacked again since 9/11,” Mr. Wallace said.

Nixon’s administration was embattled over the so-called “Watergate” scandal, stemming from a break-in at the offices of the Democratic National Committee during the 1972 campaign. The break-in was traced to officials of the Committee to Re-elect the President. A number of administration officials resigned; some were later convicted of offenses connected with efforts to cover up the affair, according to Mr. Nixon’s biography on the White House Web site,

Mr. Nixon denied any involvement, but the courts forced him to yield tape recordings that indicated he had tried to divert the investigation, the Web site states.

Faced with what seemed almost certain impeachment, Mr. Nixon announced on Aug. 8, 1974, that he would resign the next day to begin “that process of healing which is so desperately needed in America,” according to the Web site.

Mr. Dallek was the only panelist to engage Mr. Wallace on Monday night. He spoke at length about the need for historians to look at the documents that will shed light on the inner workings of the Bush administration, and accused Mr. Bush of making that process more difficult in an executive order issued in November 2001.

“What is he hiding? What does he want to hold back? We as historians, you see, feel that it is absolutely essential before you make this judgment that you’ve made in so confident a way, that we need to have the records,” Mr. Dallek told Mr. Wallace.

“I have my biases in this case,” Mr. Dallek said. “They are distinctly negative about Mr. Bush because I think he’s abused power. I wouldn’t say necessarily the same about him as Richard Nixon. But sui generis. He may have abused power in his own special way.”

Mr. Wallace was not impressed with the response.

“You’re simply making suppositions based on no facts whatsoever,” he told Mr. Dallek. “And the other panelists have also been very confident in their position. All I’m saying is, I see no personal political gain in what George W. Bush did after 2001. I see a great deal of personal political gain in everything that Richard Nixon did.”

“We will see,” Mr. Dallek replied.

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