About This Blog

I shall post videos, graphs, news stories, and other material. We shall use some of this material in class, and you may review the rest at your convenience. You will all receive invitations to post to the blog. I encourage you to use the blog in these ways:

· To post questions or comments;

· To follow up on class discussions;

· To post relevant news items or videos.

There are only two major limitations: no coarse language, and no derogatory comments about people at the Claremont Colleges.

Statement on viewpoint diversity: https://heterodoxacademy.org/teaching-heterodoxy-syllabus-language/

Syllabus: https://gov124.blogspot.com/2022/08/cases-in-american-political-leadership.html

Thursday, September 22, 2022


I have to end today's class a little early to make a meeting.

For next Tuesday, Nelson, ch 3-4.

If you need me this afternoon, email me for a Zoom time.


In 1963 the Nixons moved to New York, far from Nixon's political roots. The Nixon family even established itself in an apartment on Fifth Avenue in the same building as Nixon's old political nemesis, Nelson Rockefeller. The choice seemed a sign of both Nixon's new affluence and his banked fires. In honor of Nixon's arrival, my law firm renamed itself, becoming Nixon, Mudge, Rose, Guthrie & Alexander. Nixon did his part for the firm, meeting with clients and discussing legal strategy. I even recruited him to make an argument to the Supreme Court, which he did with undisputed distinction.
Nixon argues for Hill in Time v. Hill

Victor Li:
Nixon, made two oral arguments before the high court, which was headed by Chief Justice Earl Warren (pictured), a longtime political rival and personal enemy of Nixon’s. Ironically, Warren ended up voting for Nixon’s clients—albeit in a losing effort. Time (Life’s parent company) prevailed. To his chagrin, Warren would eventually deliver the oath of office to Nixon—months before retiring from the Supreme Court and handing a vacancy to his longtime nemesis.
Abe Fortas also voted for RN's clients. Fortas was an LBJ crony whose nomination to be chief justice would be a significant episode in the politics of 1968.

In a 1967 issue of Foreign Affairs (see Matthews 256-257), Nixon deliberately sends a signal to Beijing:
Taking the long view, we simply cannot afford to leave China forever outside the family of nations, there to nurture its fantasies, cherish its hates and threaten its neighbors. There is no place on this small planet for a billion of its potentially most able people to live in angry isolation. But we could go disastrously wrong if, in pursuing this long- range goal, we failed in the short range to read the lessons of history.


Garment recalls that RN was using the law firm as a political headquarters.
 If diversity was what he wanted, diversity was what he got. When it came to Nixon's speechwriters, his balancing act worked pretty well. One of the first staffers to join the group was Pat Buchanan, who arrived shortly after Nixon settled into the firm's offices at 20 Broad Street. Buchanan joined Rose Woods in the small office adjoining Nixon's and started to do all of the nascent campaign's routine political writing—letters, speeches, articles, memos to possible political allies. He was to become one-third of the presidential speechwriting team.
 Buchanan hailed from a Father Coughlin—style, America First family in Washington, D.C. He had been an editorial writer before joining the campaign and could talk about one subject while simultaneously writing about another, pausing in conversation only to rip pages of perfect copy out of his machine. He was quick-tempered and sometimes a bully but a cheerful and witty one.


  • Conspiracy theory
  • Impact on elections
    • Presidential election
    • Senate race in Texas


Crime and Riots (Nelson 46-47)

Image result for violent crime by year


The salience of nuclear war after the Cuban Missile Crisis.

Image result for lyndon johnson approval rating

“Before this convention we were Goldwater Republicans, Rockefeller Republicans, Scranton Republicans, Lodge Republicans, but now that this convention has met and made its decision, we are Republicans, period, working for Barry Goldwater…And to those few, if there are some, who say that they are going to sit it out or take a walk, or even go on a boat ride, I have an answer in the words of Barry Goldwater in 1960 – ‘Let’s grow up, Republicans, let’s go to work – and we shall win in November!”

According to data from the University of Michigan's American National Election Studies, the GOP won an average of 30 percent of the black vote between 1948 and 1960.  From 1964 to  2012, the average was just 5.6 percent.

Tuesday, September 20, 2022

1960, 1962, and the Wilderness


Before each week's Thursday class, email me your reactions to that week's readings.  In these emails, you may describe the overall theme of the readings, identify important information or concepts that you have learned, or raise questions or criticisms. These emails should be short -- 250 words maximum -- but they will provide me with a good sense of what you are getting out of the course readings

For Thursday:

  • Matthews,  ch. 19
  • Nelson, ch. 2

Cold War -- for Nixon, both asset (kitchen debate) and liability (U2) -- keep in mind for 1962 gov race.

 JFK v. Hoffa: "I’m not satisfied when I see men like Jimmy Hoffa – in charge of the largest union in the United States – still free.

Teamsters backed Nixon in 1968.  Three years later, Nixon commuted Hoffa’s sentence.

GOP Nomination & campaign: later, compare and contrast with 1968

  • Rockefeller -- Compact of Fifth Avenue -- alienates the nascent right-wing
  • Henry Cabot Lodge -- foreign policy expert, reach to moderates.
  • Goldwater
  • Ike -- "If you give me a week..."
  • Nixon's acceptance speech:
    • "That is the great task of the next President of the United States and this will be a difficult task, difficult because at times our next President must tell the people not what they want to hear, but what they need to hear. Why, for example, it may be just as essential to the national interest to build a dam in India as in California."
    • Why travel to 50 states?
Why did JFK win?  Do not focus too much on makeup or commercials. Unemployment rate by month:

Nov 1, 19606.10%
Oct 1, 19606.10%
Sep 1, 19605.50%
Aug 1, 19605.60%
Jul 1, 19605.50%
Jun 1, 19605.40%
May 1, 19605.10%
Apr 1, 19605.20%
Mar 1, 19605.40%
Feb 1, 19604.80%

JFK MLK, and the African American vote (see Matthews 120-121)



         1956                     1960

      D            R            D            R

Prot        37          63          38          62         

Cath       51          49          78          22

Image result for 1960 election by county

  • Popular vote was pretty close in most states
  • Nixon concedes:
    • In our campaigns, no matter how hard fought they may be, no matter how close the election may turn out to be, those who lose accept the verdict, and support those who win. And I would like to add that, having served now in Government for 14 years, a period which began in the House just 14 years ago, almost to the day, which continued with 2 years in the Senate and 8 years as Vice President, as I complete that 14-year period it is indeed a very great honor to me to extend to my colleagues in the House and Senate on both sides of the aisle who have been elected; to extend to John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson, who have been elected President and Vice President of the United States, my heartfelt best wishes, as all of you work in a cause that is bigger than any man’s ambition, greater than any party. It is the cause of freedom, of justice, and peace for all mankind.

This conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence-economic, political, even spiritual-is felt in every city, every state house, every office of the Federal government. We recognize the imperative need for this development. Yet we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources and livelihood are all involved; so is the very structure of our society.

In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.
Cuba and Cold War

Kennedy Politics
Nixon’s opponent in the gubernatorial primary was Joseph Shell—a former USC football star, oil millionaire, and now the conservative minority leader in the California State Assembly. He had no chance of winning, but the third of the vote he would receive was a serious warning to someone of Nixon’s stature. The leading issue was Shell’s support by the ideologically extreme John Birch Society, whose founder, Robert Welch, had accused Eisenhower of being a “conscious agent of the Communist conspiracy.” Nixon repudiated Welch and the John Birch Society, as expected—but he also repudiated all candidates who would not repudiate the society, including two friends in Congress, John Rousselot and Edgar Hiestand, who represented heavily Republican districts—a move that further cut into his vote. (In his race for governor in 1966, Ronald Reagan would also oppose the John Birch Society, but—with more skill—he would tell other candidates they were on their own.) On one occasion Nixon was shaving just before we went out to dinner. He was in his office’s private bathroom, talking to me through the open door. “I could not look myself in the mirror if I support them,” he told me. I could see his image through the mirror and wondered for a moment if this was a set piece. No, he had no need to impress me. Nixon was reassuring Nixon. Even now I think it was the attack on Eisenhower that so bothered Nixon, though other politicians took it less seriously.



  • Conspiracy theory
  • Impact on elections
    • Presidential election
    • Senate race in Texas

Wednesday, September 14, 2022

1960, Part I

For Tuesday, Matthews 15-18, Nelson ch. 1.

As Matthews explains, Nixon did not look his best because of his recent hospitalization.

JFK looked good -- in fact, he looked much better than he had in the early 1960s.

Why?  He was taking cortisone for his Addison's Disease. So his illness forcedhim him take a medication that filled out his face and made him look much healthier than he was.

Watch the first 10 minutes of the first debate.

Note how JFK reframed domestic policies as  Cold War issues

JFK v. Hoffa: "I’m not satisfied when I see men like Jimmy Hoffa – in charge of the largest union in the United States – still free."  Think about that:  a presidential candidate called for the imprisonment of a specific individual.

Teamsters backed Nixon in 1960 and 1968.  As president, Nixon commuted Hoffa’s sentence.

FOURTH DEBATE.  JFK called for arming anti-Castro Cubans.  Nixon thought that JFK knew about the CIA's plan to do just that.  To protect the secrecy of the plan, Nixon argued against it in the debate. 

By taking sides against his own position, Nixon proved to be prophetic. He predicted what would happen at the Bay of Pigs

Dogs that did not bark, or issues that never came up in the debates:
  • Crime
  • Abortion
  • Supreme Court
And a deeply ironic moment:

A Nixon ad:

A Kennedy ad (notice a difference from  Nixon?)

Ike throws an interception:

The Hispanic vote was growing, and the Spanish-speaking Mrs. Kennedy made a spot:

Remember the scene in Blackkklansman where an elderly man recalled the history of lynching?  That was singer-actor Harry Belafonte.  In 1960, a very young Belafonte made a spot for JFK

Eleanor Roosevelt was still alive.  Her endorsement got people's attention:  after all, it was only 15 years after FDR's death.

Lest anyone miss the point, Henry Fonda drove it home:

Tuesday, September 13, 2022

Two Profiles in Ambition


The Vice Presidency: Why were RN and JFK hall mates?

From Ike aide and Nixon biographer Stephen Hess:

Where the Vice President—or the vice presidency—fit in Eisenhower’s matrix has an antique feel as viewed through the experiences of more than a half-century. When Dick Cheney claimed in 2007 that he didn’t have to comply with an executive order on safeguarding classified information because his office was part of the legislature, it was greeted as a laugh-line by late night comedians. After all, wasn’t he the most powerful vice president in history? Yet Cheney’s contention would not have been risible to Eisenhower, who wrote in his memoirs, “The Vice President of the United States, with the constitutional duty of presiding over the Senate, is not legally a part of the Executive branch and is not subject to direction by the President.” He even included Vice President Nixon as part of a group coming to a White House meeting “from the Senate.” Since Eisenhower placed the vice presidency in the legislative branch, everything Nixon did for him he claimed was on “a volunteer basis.” He listed some of the tasks he asked Nixon to perform, such as being his personal representative abroad and chairing a committee to end discrimination in government contracting. Even though Nixon had been in both House and Senate, Eisenhower rarely employed him for cloakroom lobbying, a prominent job of subsequent vice presidents. Nixon did not have an office in the White House. He was housed at the Capitol, as was his staff, and their paychecks came from the Senate budget. He was often at the White House for meetings of the cabinet, national security council, and legislative leaders, but he was not a presence in the West Wing as is today’s vice president.

The VP did not have an office in the White House complex until LBJ served under JFK.

The VP did not have an official residence until the 1970s.

Nixon's roles:

  • Hatchetman
  • Backup in health crises

Dienbienphu (Matthews, pp. 95)

The 1956 Election 

  • JFK, HHH, and the VP race
  • Ike leaves Nixon hanging

Foreign Policy

  • 1956 Arab-Israeli War:  Nasser nationalized Suez Canal,
  • Soviet invasion of Hungary
  • 1957 Algeria (118-119)

Partisan Politics

Cold War




Monday, September 12, 2022

First Assignment, Fall 2022

Choose one:
  1. From popular books or periodicals, identify one myth about Nixon's pre-presidential career. Explain why this belief is inaccurate, and why people came to hold it.
  2. Could Nixon have won in 1960? What changes in his strategy and tactics could have changed the outcome in which states?
  3. Pick one of the debates in the 1960 campaign: https://www.debates.org/index.php?page=1960-debates. Who "won" and why? Consider both the content of what they said as well as their presentation on television.
  4. In late 2019, Joe Biden was a former vice president who seemed to have lingered past his sell-by date. Compare and contrast his victory to Nixon's 1968 comeback.
The specifications:
  • Essays should be typed (12-point), double-spaced, and no more than four pages long. I will not read past the fourth page.
  • Please submit all papers in this course as Word documents, not pdfs.
  • Cite your sources. Please use endnotes in the format of Chicago Manual of Style. Endnotes do not count against the page limit. Please do not use footnotes, which take up too much page space.
  • Watch your spelling, grammar, diction, and punctuation. Errors will count against you. Return essays to the Sakai dropbox for this class by 11:59 PM, Friday, September 30. I reserve the right to dock papers one gradepoint for one day’s lateness, a full letter grade after that.

Thursday, September 8, 2022

Nixon in the 1950s


For Tuesday, read Matthews ch. 8-14.

Will distribute the writing assignment by Tuesday.  Before then, I will send you recordings of my writing lecture and my research lecture.

On Thursday of next week, our class will be asynchronous via Zoom.  That is, I will send you a recording.    

From a History Channel documentary on the Matthews book ( start clip about 5:30): 

Anticommunism in 1950s

October 1, 1949:  Mao wins in China.  MAKE A MENTAL NOTE OF THE CHINA LOBBY

Catholic opposition

June 25, 1950: Korean War starts

Joe McCarthy 2/9/1950:
"I have here in my hand a list of 205 . . . a list of names that were made known to the Secretary of State as being members of the Communist Party and who nevertheless are still working and shaping policy in the State Department."
Maryland and the 1950 version of Deep fake

The legend of George Smathers, "Red Pepper" (Matthews, p. 70) and "Vote American"

Sun, Apr 30, 1950 – 27 · The Tampa Tribune (Tampa, Florida, United States of America) · Newspapers.com

The home of Manchester Boddy (Matthews p. 69) is a local attraction in La Canada.

pink piece of paper headed "Douglas-Marcantonio Voting Record"

Sat, Nov 4, 1950 – 1 · The Baltimore Sun (Baltimore, Baltimore, Maryland, United States of America) · Newspapers.com

Dean Acheson, left (Yale `15, Harvard Law `18)
Adlai Stevenson, right (Princeton `22, Northwestern Law `26)

Image result for dean acheson


Matthews pp. 82-86 - Checkers (start about 16:00)
The mention of the dog was just a humorous aside in a shrewd political speech.  

Monday, September 5, 2022

Nixon and Kennedy in Washington


The GI Generation (born 1901-24)-- as a percentage of House members, senators, governors

  • 1945 16%
  • 1947 26%
  • 1951 40%
  • 1953 48%
  • 1961 69%
  • 1969 72%
They are all gone from political life.  The oldest member of Congress is Senator Feinstein, born in 1933.  The oldest governor is Alabama's Kay Ivey, born in 1944. 

Every president from JFK through Bush 41 was in uniform during WWII:
  • JFK - Navy, South Pacific
  • LBJ - Navy, South Pacific (briefly)
  • Nixon - Navy, South Pacific
  • Ford - Navy, South Pacific
  • Carter -- naval cadet
  • Reagan - Army (made training films)
  • Bush - Navy, South Pacific
JFK's first book (senior thesis at Harvard):

Image result for "why england slept"
JFK's wartime experience got the Hollywood treatment:

About the peace thing, he said, "I told them that I know it is awfully hard to keep this in perspective. I told them that"--he seemed to grope for a date--"in 1939 I thought Neville Chamberlain was the greatest man living and Winston Churchill was a madman. It was not until years later that I realized that Neville Chamberlain was a good man, but Winston Churchill was right." Then he sort of shrugged his shoulders and said, "I doubt if that got over."
Communism and the Cold War.  

The "PAC" issue in 1946.  Nixon comes away thinking he is a great debater.

Nixon's victory was NOT an unusual event in 1946.  Sixty-two incumbent House Democrats lost, compared with only seven Republicans.

Oil money in 1946

The Hiss Case

Evan Thomas writes:
At a later session, as Nixon and Hiss were sparring over some point of law, Hiss huffily declared, “I am familiar with the law. I attended Harvard Law School. I believe yours was Whittier?” Robert Stripling, the committee's chief investigator, observed that “Nixon turned red and blue and red again. You could see the hackles on his back practically pushing his coat up."
Hiss was indeed a spy.

Whittaker Chambers, Witness:
Those were the forces - Thomas Murphy, Richard Nixon, the men of the F.B.I. - who, together with the two grand juries and Tom Donegan and the two trial juries, finally won the Hiss Case for the nation. It is important to look hard at them for a moment. . . . For the contrast between them and the glittering Hiss forces is about the same as between them and the glittering French chivalry and the somewhat tattered English bowmen who won at Agincourt. The inclusive fact about them is that, in contrast to the pro-Hiss rally, most of them, regardless of what they had made of themselves, came from the wrong side of the railroad tracks. . . .

No feature of the Hiss Case is more obvious, or more troubling as history, than the jagged fissure, which it did not so much open as reveal, between the plain men and women of the nation, and those who affected to act, think and speak for them.
Nixon did not play a prominent role in the HUAC investigation of Hollywood, but his presence on the committee left bad memories among people in the industry.

October 1, 1949:  Mao wins in China.  MAKE A MENTAL NOTE OF THE CHINA LOBBY

Catholic opposition

June 25, 1950: Korean War starts

A friend of the family

"It was hard to find a more committed Cold Warrior in either party than the thirty-four-year-old from Massachusetts"(Matthews, p. 75).

Helen Gahagan Douglas

The 1950 race:  a check from Joe Kennedy (Matthews, ch. 70).

Vito Marcantonio