Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Dick Does Duke

Duke Law School does not go out of its way to publicize the fact that the only United States President ever to resign, Richard M. Nixon, is an alumnus of the Class of 1937. Last week, however, a musical about Nixon, Tricky Dick, was put on by Duke Law School professors, staff, and students. The play was also written by Duke Law School students. The New York Times reports that the musical was first performed last year, but without "acknowledgement" from the school. "This year, the play received a $5,000 donation from the Allen & Overy law firm." Proceeds from the production went to the Duke Public Interest Law Foundation, according to the WSJ blog. In the play, "Nixon is imagined as a young, ethically challenged Duke law student running for student body president." Duke Law School's website features photos of the production and of Duke's portrait of Nixon, long kept out of sight, now on display in the law library, "where students posed with it and flashed Nixon's trademark V sign. The law school is even considering creating a permanent display about Nixon to accompany the portrait ..." To someone who lived through Watergate, Nixon's rehabilitation at Duke is a strange turn of events. Contemporary law students, however, don't remember the damage done by Nixon and his cronies. According to the Times,

Duke students these days seem less embarrassed by the disgraced former president than amused by him. While historians and Nixon contemporaries may debate the lingering toll of the Watergate scandal, current Duke students seem simply proud to have had an alumnus elected president--even one who was forced to resign.

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