- Associated Press - Saturday, July 19, 2014

The Concord (N.H.) Monitor, July 17, 2013

In many ways, Chris Christie is the anti-Richard Nixon.

Nixon rose to the presidency despite acute social awkwardness, while Christie owes much of his political success to his ability to connect with voters. Nixon was never able to shed his “Tricky Dick” reputation, while Christie is lauded as a decisive straight-shooter.

But in other ways, Christie and Nixon are kindred political spirits - particularly in the way they handled the misdeeds of the people who served in their administrations.

In April 1973, Nixon took to the airwaves to talk about the Watergate scandal, which by springtime had ceased to be a “third-rate burglary.” Before announcing the “resignations” of chief of staff Bob Haldeman and adviser John Erlichman, Nixon said: “I was appalled at this senseless, illegal action, and I was shocked to learn that employees of the Re-Election Committee were apparently among those guilty.”

In May, Christie sat down for a Q&A; with Bob Schieffer of CBS during the Peter G. Peterson Foundation annual fiscal summit. When Schieffer asked Christie about the bridge lane closures in Fort Lee, New Jersey - an instance of alleged political retribution dubbed Bridgegate - Christie offered this perspective: “I’m not the first chief executive who had someone on their staff do something they didn’t know something about that they disapproved of and later had to fire them. I don’t think that that hurt anybody’s career, and it’s not going to hurt mine.”

Forty years ago, that line would have brought down the house, but Christie wasn’t going for laughs. One can only assume he was trying to create an air of confidence, but unfortunately for him the words left his lips as a stunning lack of historical perspective.

Christie should know that what ultimately doomed Nixon was that Americans came to realize that their president had created an atmosphere in his administration that amounted to tacit approval for the break-in at Democratic National Committee headquarters. As more details were revealed, it became harder and harder to believe that John Dean, Dwight Chapin, Haldeman, Erlichman and the rest of the president’s men were acting of their own accord, that they had gone rogue. For that reason, Nixon’s denials of personal involvement in the break-in became irrelevant.

That lesson should not be lost on Christie. What he did and didn’t know about Bridgegate isn’t important. What is important, however, is what the scandal tells us about the atmosphere he created within his administration.

In two weeks, Christie will be in New Hampshire to join Sen. Kelly Ayotte and other prominent Republicans to raise money for the party, but there are likely other reasons for the visit. According to a recent WMUR poll, Christie leads the field of possible candidates for the Republican nomination for president. The New Jersey governor will no doubt have his mastery of retail politics on full display during his visit, but voters should also keep in mind a few more of Nixon’s words from that same April 1973 speech: “In any organization, the man at the top must bear the responsibility.”

The Portland (Maine) Press Herald, July 15, 2014

If you’re a man and you have had sexual contact with another man, even just once and as far back as 1977, you are banned for life from giving blood.

But go to bed with an HIV-positive woman, and you have to wait only 12 months before donating at your local Red Cross.

That’s because, according to federal policy, it is more risky to take blood from a gay man with a safe sexual history than from a straight person engaged in inherently risky sexual behavior.

Modern blood testing, however, has all but eliminated the risk that led to the blanket ban on blood donations from gay men, to the point that it is at least as safe as that of other donors. The Food and Drug Administration should loosen the ban to match that reality.

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