Would Englehart Still Cast ‘Nixon-as-Supervillain’ in Captain America Today?

 

As the vast majority of modern comics absolutely suck, I typically get my four-color (and sometimes black and white) fix from old trade paperbacks and (Marvel) Essential editions. One of my faves is Captain America #s 2-4, and the biggest highlights from those are the “Cap of the 1950s” arc followed by the “Secret Empire.

 

No, not the recent series by the same name; the one to which I’m referring came in 1974 in the midst of the Watergate scandal and President Richard Nixon’s inevitable impeachment (made moot by his resignation in that year).

 

Keep in mind politics was a lot different 46 years ago. Millennials and centennials especially might find it hard to fathom that there were only three TV networks, and one had to turn a dial to make a phone call. “Watergate” gets its name from the Watergate Hotel, where in 1972 a security guard discovered that the Democratic National HQ offices there had been burglarized.

 

Things snowballed from there; as things got worse for Nixon — who knew all about the illegal activities — he did his best to preserve his legacy, but ended up quitting in early August of ’74.

 

President Richard Nixon, pictured above in the Oval Office on Feb. 19, 1970.

 

The investigation in Nixon and his administration was a bipartisan affair. Even the most ardent Republican Nixon supporters in the House of Representatives ended up backing articles of impeachment as evidence came forth showing the depths of Nixon’s involvement.

 

Writer Steve Englehart capitalized on this dreary political mood (and bipartisan anger toward the chief executive) in “Secret Empire.” The beginnings of the arc involve a plot to discredit Captain America — using barely veiled analogues to real-life people and groups like “Quentin Harderman” (Nixon Chief of Staff HR Haldeman), and the “Committee to Regain America’s Principles” or CRAP (CREEP, the Committee to Re-elect the President) — and culminates with the star-spangled Avenger racing after the Secret Empire’s “Number One” into the White House where it’s strongly implied the villain is Nixon.

 

 

In a 2017 interview, Englehart concedes GOP politicians cooperated in the Nixon investigations, and notes the country “was pretty united” in the view that Nixon needed to go. But where Steve loses credibility is when he’s asked about how the (then-) current political atmosphere and how it ties into Watergate and his Cap story:

 

Again, in the seventies the idea that a president would break the law was mind-boggling. I mean, we weren’t all naive, but we weren’t as jaded as we are now and so the idea that the president would do this and try to cover it up was worthy of the congressional investigation and that was worthy of everything that was involved in it. Now, everything that Nixon did has been made legal in America. Well, not breaking and entering but a lot of the stuff he was accused of has now been sort of “legitimised.”

Now we’ve got a president who breaks the laws right and left, lies about it and we’re in the middle of a situation where he says “Come and get me if you can” and he’s doing everything he can to keep people from getting to him. I like to hope that we will, eventually. (Emphasis added.)

 

Keep in mind Englehart made these accusations a mere five months into Donald Trump’s presidency. This was when the so-called “Russian collusion” scandal — where Trump was accused of being in cahoots with Vladimir Putin and Co. — was in full swing, and the mainstream media happily parroted each and every Democratic talking point related to the “scandal.”

 

There’s just one small problem: The collusion stuff was 100-percent bullshit.

 

 

 

 

Englehart may have expressed concern that “everything that Nixon did has been made made legal,” but as is often the case for progressives, that concern looks only in one direction.

 

Consider the drafted Article 2 of the Nixon impeachment. It stated “[Nixon] has, acting personally and through his subordinates and agents, endeavoured to obtain from the Internal Revenue Service, in violation of the constitutional rights of citizens …” During his presidency, Barack Obama used the IRS as a political weapon, in this case “to muzzle the tea party movement by denying organizations that sprung from it tax-exempt status.”

 

Englehart also didn’t seem fazed by the Obama administration going after reporters, about which even the New York Times opined “If Donald Trump targets journalists, thank Obama.” (Note the “if,” by the way.)

 

 

Forty-six years ago, like now, the “mainstream” media was biased towards liberal politics. Thus, the Nixon scandal was the reddest of red meat. But today’s journalists are magnitudes worse. They actively yawn at wrongdoings by progressive lawmakers and will even cover them up by refusing to discuss them, or by using a “disinformation” tag (see: the Hunter Biden story).

 

Any expressed progressive concern over scandals like Obama’s use of the IRS is all a façade, just like Englehart’s regarding the “legitimization” of Nixon’s transgressions. This is because progressives don’t view things in terms of right and wrong, they look at them as righteous vs. unjust. Barack Obama meant well, you see, but Donald Trump is evil incarnate so he must be impeached for something that Joe Biden actually did.

Etcetera.

 

Steve’s interview was from over three years ago, but I did some searching to see if he had any comments about more current happenings. I found zilch. Let me know if I missed anything.

 

Dave Huber

A ComicsGater long before the term ever existed, Dave is a retired teacher who now concentrates his efforts on exposing the insanity of college political correctness.

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