Quick, what will Richard M. Nixon be remembered for most?
OK, he went to China. But what word do most of us associate with Nixon?
Watergate, of course. That scandal is what makes Nixon unique, the only president to resign from office, and now his library in Yorba Linda, Calif., will properly reflect that.
Heretofore, the Watergate exhibit at the Nixon Presidential Library had been one assembled by the former president's friends and family members. Even they conceded that the story it related was as favorable to Nixon as possible and told from his point of view.
But that will change now that the federal government has taken over the library from the Richard M. Nixon Birthplace and Library Foundation, which established the facility taking guidance directly from Nixon himself. Over the past year, the Watergate hall at the library has been closed while historians have worked to renovate it and to give it a more balanced perspective.
The new exhibit will be heavy on multimedia and oral history, according to those in charge of the project. Visitors will be able to hear such Watergate players as then-Washington Post reporter Carl Bernstein and Nixon assistant Alexander Butterfield tell of their roles in their own words.
That may not be the exhibit the late president might have wanted, but it will serve history better than one reflecting only the biases of friends and family. And with all the recorded history concerning Watergate -- including the infamous White House tapes -- it would be unfair to future generations to ignore the more unsavory aspects of the Watergate scandal.
To some extent, all presidential libraries are designed to flatter the presidents whose histories they seek to preserve. But because it is history, they should get the stories straight.
Nixon's name will forever be associated with Watergate, and that should be reflected even at the library that bears his name.
Nixon library soon will offer a more balanced view of his role in the Watergate scandal.