Theatre Critic Rounds up the Usual Cliches: Bush as Nixon, Iraq as Vietnam

Liberal theatre critic Charles Isherwood reviews in Thursday's Arts pages "Nixon's Nixon," an off-Broadway show currently running in Manhattan, and makes a glib comparison between Nixon and you-know-who and Vietnam and you-know-what.

"'I don't feel like I've done anything wrong,' the president of the United States is saying peevishly, his mouth puckering into a lemon-sucking moue. 'They gave me so much power, why are they surprised I used it?'

"Care to guess the name of the president in question, who is currently being depicted spewing self-justification from the stage of the Lucille Lortel Theater?

"You might be inclined to choose the White House's current occupant. After all, according to some analysts, George W. Bush has presided over the biggest power grab by the executive branch in American history. And certainly he's a favorite punching bag of Off and Off Off Broadway theater these days."


"But Nixon keeps bobbing and weaving. Belligerent broadsides against his enemies - Kissinger included now and then - blend into self-pitying arias. In a series of surreal comic vignettes, the two men rehearse the triumphs of their past association. Literally. They take turns playing themselves and each other, re-creating (or imagining) meetings with the big names of history in the 1960's and 70's, from Brezhnev to Chairman Mao to Golda Meir.

"This vision of the country's leaders retreating happily into a fantasy world of their own invention may strike some in the audience as having a certain grimly funny currency at the moment. The squabbling and finger pointing between politicians bent on burnishing their own images, even as they casually total the numbers of civilians and soldiers who have died on their watch, might also strike an eerily contemporary note (especially since Bob Woodward's new book, 'State of Denial,' suggests that Kissinger continues to play an influential role in United States foreign policy)."