A Conjuration of the Past

Nixon's library enshrines his fight for vindication

A seance on a hot day in Orange County, Calif. Everything in the cloudless morning seemed like a memory of itself from long ago. Gene Autry stood and waved his white Stetson. Billy Graham and Norman Vincent Peale materialized. Bob Hope shambled slow-motion across the stage like an amiable pink hologram. Four Republican Presidents were there, and four First Ladies. The centerpiece, Richard Nixon's career, was laid out in a sort of waxen splendor. Scarcely a trace of the fatal accident showed.

The ceremony to dedicate the Richard Nixon Library and Birthplace was a strange conjuration of the past, subdued and...

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