Richard Nixon awarded political prizes Friday to Jesse Jackson as best orator, Michael Dukakis as first-ballot Democratic nominee and George Bush as winner of the White House in November "by a nose."The former president, speaking to the annual meeting of the American Society of Newspaper Editors, also gave a blunt assessment of Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, recalling a historic definition that to be "a good prime minister is to be a good butcher."

"Gorbachev is without question a good butcher," said Nixon, adding that the Kremlin chief also is a world-class leader. "He is a dedicated Communist and a very clear-eyed pragmatist, not blinded to reality."

Nixon, who has recently emerged anew in the public eye to promote his latest book, spoke to the editors before taking questions.