Adam Milhous Schiff: Is There a Nixon in the House?

Story Stream
recent articles

Has anyone else noticed the similarities between Adam Schiff and Richard Milhous Nixon, our amoral 37th president of the United States?

Let’s start with that amorality. Both men showed a willingness to say or do anything in order to achieve their goals – step over any body, tell any lie — and their goals were also the same: to achieve personal political power at any cost.

More about that later, but we might take a moment to notice the more superficial similarities between the two politicians, and I’m not talking about their peculiar facial features — Nixon’s jowly face with its ski-slope nose or Schiff’s thin neck and bug eyes — though a psychoanalyst might be able to assess how their physical characteristics affected their self-image.

Both started their careers as lawyers and were sent to Washington to represent Southern California congressional districts. Nixon rapidly ascended to the Senate after just one full term in the House, whereas Schiff has bided his time since 2001 awaiting an opportunity to run for higher office. He considered a bid for the open Senate seat in California in 2016, but made the fateful decision to instead burnish his credentials as ranking member (later chairman) of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. It is widely rumored he is interested in running for Dianne Feinstein’s seat in 2024, but the seat might become available sooner should the 86-year-old senator decide to retire.

Nixon had served less than two years in the Senate when he was selected as Dwight Eisenhower’s running mate on the Republicans’ 1952 presidential ticket. Whether any of the 2020 Democratic Party’s presidential candidates would consider picking Schiff for that spot is a matter of speculation, but if the ticket needed someone with national security credentials, he would be a logical choice in light of his current high profile. Of course, in this era of identity politics, it is presumed that Schiff could only run on a ticket headed by a woman, so he might be rooting for either Elizabeth Warren or Amy Klobuchar to win the nomination.

One must presume, based on the size of his ego, that Schiff has his sights set higher than the vice presidency. Now that he has designated himself the prissy conscience of the nation, he has a legitimate claim on the hearts and minds of far-left voters. It is not out of the question that he could even be the compromise candidate at a deadlocked convention this summer. Who would be better positioned to rescue the nation from four more years of Donald Trump than the man who as early as 2017 had called Trump “the worst president in modern history” and spent the next three years trying to dislodge him from office? That dogged determination is but one more similarity that Schiff has with the hard-working, hard-hitting Nixon.

Nixon, like Schiff, became a national figure through attacking the patriotism of others. Both men achieved fame by linking other Americans to Russia. Nixon was right out front in the red-baiting propaganda campaigns of the late 1940s and early 1950s. He accused his first opponent, Rep. Jerry Voorhis, of being endorsed by so-called communist organizations including “the PAC,” implying that it was a front organization for the Communist Party, even though it was really just a labor-friendly political action committee. One ad even claimed that Radio Moscow had been promoting the election of Voorhis and other Democrats.

Not to be outdone by Nixon, Schiff has led the nonstop attacks on President Trump for being “Putin’s puppet” for the last three years, and the only mystery is how the party of “communist hunters” has changed over the last 70 years from the Republican Party to the Democrat Party. The playbook is certainly the same: Manipulate, distort and manufacture evidence that your opponent is a tool of the Ruskies – then the Soviet Union and now the Russian Federation.

Nixon was a member of the House Un-American Activities Committee, the unofficial predecessor of Schiff’s witch-hunting Intelligence Committee. Using that position as a springboard, he set his sights on the Senate and ran a dirty campaign against his Democratic opponent, Helen Gahagan Douglas. He famously compared her voting record to that of leftist Rep. Vito Marcantonio, who was the Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of his day. The pamphlet about Douglas and Marcantonio was printed on pink paper, and in the era of red-baiting it came to be known as the Pink Sheet, suggesting that Douglas was leaning red. Nixon told supporters she was “pink right down to her underwear” (though no one asked him how he knew).

It was during the 1972 presidential reelection campaign when Nixon finally sank to the lowest depths of his career. By this time, the Red Scare had eased, although Nixon still managed to exploit George McGovern’s opposition to the Vietnam War to make him look soft on communism. But what really made this election significant was the Watergate scandal, which, like the Russiagate Hoax 44 years later, was notable for its enlistment of government agents (current and former) in a plot to destroy a political opponent and then to cover up the plot using any means necessary.

Schiff didn’t create the notorious and discredited Steele dossier, but he exploited it to make himself look like the guardian of democracy, and he certainly engaged in a coverup for Jim Comey, John Brennan, James Clapper and the rest of the Coup Crew. Then, he employed his unappreciated screenwriter’s imagination to co-author, with an anonymous “whistleblower,” a Ukraine pressure campaign that led to just the third presidential impeachment in U.S. history.

When you consider the damage he has been able to inflict from his perch in the House of Representatives, I guess we are fortunate that Adam Schiff doesn’t have the word “president” in front of his name so far. If he did, he might well make us forget the excesses of President Nixon. Either way, Nixon and Schiff are two peas in a pod. It’s no accident that one is known as Tricky Dick and the other is Shifty Schiff. Truth will out.

Frank Miele, the retired editor of the Daily Inter Lake in Kalispell Mont., is a columnist for RealClearPolitics. His books — including “The Media Matrix: What If Everything You Know Is Fake?” — are available from his Amazon author page. Visit him at to read his daily commentary or follow him on Facebook @HeartlandDiaryUSA or on Twitter @HeartlandDiary.

Show comments Hide Comments