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.

Syllabus: https://gov124.blogspot.com/2021/01/cases-in-american-political-leadership.html

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

Thursday, February 28, 2019

RIP, Ed Nixon

From the Nixon Foundation:

February 27, 2019
Edward Nixon, the youngest and last surviving brother of President Richard Nixon, died today at a skilled nursing facility in Bothell, Washington. He was 88 years old.
...
Mr. Nixon worked on his brother’s successful presidential campaigns in 1968 and 1972 and served as Co-Chairman of the Nixon re-election committee in 1972.
“For some people, meeting me is one degree of separation from meeting my famous brother,” Ed Nixon wrote in 2009. “Dick was more than a brother. Because we never shared a boyhood, he assumed the role of assistant father and mentor. At the time of my birth, he was seventeen and getting ready to start college. But he realized he could be an important influence in my life, and he took his self-imposed responsibility seriously, always listening to his kid brother.”
“I considered Dick to be outgoing with his ears — not with his mouth. Through thought-provoking questions, he encouraged me to learn and solve problems. More than anyone else in the family, he could stand back from a contentious situation and give impartial and convincing advice,” he wrote.
Ed Nixon was an original member of the Board of Directors of the Richard Nixon Foundation.
A career geologist and expert on global energy use, Mr. Nixon spent six decades pursuing the responsible use of natural resources around the globe. Throughout his career, he served as an advisor to several cutting-edge companies in the field of Earth science.
Edward Calvert Nixon was born on May 3, 1930, in Whittier, California. He was the fifth and youngest child of Frank and Hannah Nixon, and named Edward after an English King, as was Nixon family tradition.
“Frank and Hannah Nixon raised five sons —Harold, Dick, Don, Arthur, and me— in a close-knit family, teaching us the importance of religious faith, traditional values, and a strong work ethic,” Ed Nixon wrote. “Family life revolved around Dad and Mom’s store, the Quaker church, and family gatherings.”

The 1968 Election and Aftermath

Electoral Map
Popular vote by state
Alternative scenarios
Vote by groups (enlarged view)
The HOUSE VOTED TO ABOLISH THE ELECTORAL COLLEGE
Nixon supported the idea.  Repeat, Nixon supported it.
No one subject more profoundly involves the issue of popular sovereignty than the method of electing the President. For almost two centuries the system of the Electoral College has somehow worked, albeit just barely at times, and at other times even doubtfully. Every four years the American democracy places a large, unacceptable, and unnecessary wager that it will work one more time, that somehow an institution that never in any event functioned the way the framers of the Constitution anticipated, will somehow confer the Presidency on that candidate who obtains the largest number of votes. The Electoral College need not do so. Indeed on occasion it has not done so. But far more importantly--whatever the popular vote--it need not confer the Presidency on any candidate, if none has a majority of the electoral vote.
Our ability to change this system in time for the 1972 elections is a touchstone of the impulse to reform in America today. It will be the measure of our ability to avert calamity by anticipating it.
As I stated in my October 1969 message, I originally favored other methods of reforming the electoral college system, but the passage by the House of a direct popular election plan indicated that this thoroughly acceptable reform could be achieved, and I accordingly supported it. Unfortunately, the Senate has not completed action. Time is running out. But it is still possible to pass the measure and to amend the Constitution in time for the 1972 elections.


Image result for 1968 electoral map





Nixon cabinet

Notice something about the demographics?

Image result for nixon cabinet 1968

Last month was the 50th anniversary of Nixon inaugural

The inaugural address:

Second Assignment

Choose one:
  • Pick a major Nixon legislative proposal (e.g., FAP, the 1971 or 1974 health care bill). Explain its origins and fate. Why did Nixon support it? What happened to it? Did it lay the foundation for future legislation?
  • Pick any member of the Nixon White House staff (e.g., Haldeman, Buchanan, Moyhihan). Why did Nixon pick that person? What was his or her job? In the long run, did the relationship work to the benefit or detriment of either person?
  • Compare and contrast Nixon's policies on civil rights both with his public rhetoric and his private comments about African Americans. What accounts for the difference?
  • Write on any relevant topic, subject to my approval.
Sources may include:
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, March 15. Papers will drop one gradepoint for one day’s lateness, a full letter grade after that.

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Lawyers Testifying Against Their President 44 Years Apart: Similarities Between John Dean and Michael Cohen

Lawyer and Presidential Counsel John Dean on his rise to Nixon's inner circle: “Slowly, steadily,” he wrote, “I would climb toward the moral abyss of the President’s inner circle until I finally fell into it, thinking I had made it to the top just as I began to realize I had actually touched bottom.”

On the bravery John Dean showed in testifying: "Dean’s testimony took days, during which the country was glued to their television sets. Dean connected the dots between a “third-rate burglary,” as President Nixon referred to Watergate, and the activities of CREEP—the sarcastic shorthand for The Committee for the Re-Election of the President. And yet, while the testimony itself was dramatic, it was only the word of one young man against the President of the United States. That is why, when the existence of a taping system in the Oval Office was confirmed, Dean breathed a huge sigh of relief. Dean recalls telling Sam Dash, Chief Counsel for the Senate Watergate Committee, “Sam, do you know what this means, if you can get those conversations?… It would mean my ass is not hanging out there all alone. It means that you can verify my testimony.”


Reasons for testifying : "Cohen is seeking nothing more and nothing less than to rescue his reputation and his place in history. John Dean spent four months in jail before his sentence was changed to time served. Although he was disbarred, he spent the following decades as an investment banker and he also wrote books, many of which were critical of Republican presidents. And these days you will still see him on television, commenting on the many parallels between the cloud around President Trump and the cloud around President Nixon. As awful as going to jail is for anyone, life has not been too bad for John Dean."


Similarities in Restoring Their Image an Honor: "Who knows how much light Cohen will shed on the many suspicious links between Trump and Russia. But one thing we do know is that, like Dean before him, Cohen will be taking the difficult but necessary steps to try and regain some respectability. In fact, Cohen’s lawyer, Lanny Davis has reached out to John Dean for advice. Like Dean, Cohen has credibility issues. Dean was at the inception of the cover up. Cohen has lied to Congress in an effort, now apparently abandoned, to protect the president. He cannot lie again without facing even greater punishment from the federal legal system."


Good quote from Cohen: "I am committed to proving my integrity and ensuring that history will not remember me as the villain of his story.”“This may seem hard to believe but today is one of the most meaningful days of my life. I have been living in a personal and mental incarceration ever since the day that I accepted the offer to work for a real estate mogul whose business acumen that I deeply admired.”
“Recently, the President tweeted a statement calling me ‘weak,’ and he was correct, but for a much different reason than he was implying. It was because time and time again I felt it was my duty to cover up his dirty deeds rather than to listen to my own inner voice and my moral compass.”


Source: https://www.brookings.edu/blog/fixgov/2019/02/26/why-is-michael-cohen-testifying-against-trump-a-key-watergate-figure-may-hold-the-answer/   

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Fall 1968

Agnew




Nixon spot foreshadows future "decision" ads.









Wallace






Why does Humphrey close?

Gallup




Democrats were still dominant










LeMay (the model for the George C. Scott character in Dr. Strangelove) scares people away from Wallace (Nelson 206)



The Chennault Affair (Nelson 215-216)




Haldeman's notes confirm Nixon's complicity

Agnew and the Saudis

After resigning from office, Agnew disgraced himself further by offering to fight "Zionists" for the Saudi royal family. Start at 13:00

Thursday, February 21, 2019

January-August 1968

Via Smithsonian: January-August 1968
  • January 17:  In his State of the Union Address, LBJ says: "The number of South Vietnamese living in areas under Government protection tonight has grown by more than a million since January of last year."
  • January 23: North Korea seizes the USS Pueblo, claiming the surveillance ship strayed into its waters. One U.S. crewman is killed and 82 others are imprisoned; an 11-month standoff with the United States follows.
  • January 30: North Vietnamese communists launch the Tet Offensive. The assault contradicts the Johnson administration’s claims that the communist forces are weak and the U.S.-backed south is winning the war.  Public opinion continues to turn against the war.
  • February 7: After a battle for the Vietnamese village of Ben Tre, an American officer tells Associated Press reporter Peter Arnett, "It became necessary to destroy the town in order to save it."
  • February 29: The report of the Kerner Commission, appointed by President Lyndon B. Johnson to examine the causes of race riots in American cities in previous years, declares the nation is..."moving toward two societies, one black, one white--seperate and unequal."   Nixon criticizes the commission for its "its tendency to lay the blame for the riots on everyone except the rioters."   MOST AMERICANS AGREE WITH NIXON. 
  • March 5: The government of Czechoslovakia abolishes censorship, underscoring the expansion of freedom during the “Prague Spring” and angering its Communist overlords in the Soviet Union.
  • March 12: Nixon wins 78 percent of the vote in New Hampshire’s GOP primary. Eugene McCarthy, Minnesota’s antiwar senator, takes a shocking 42 percent of the Democratic vote.
  • March 16: New York Senator Robert F. Kennedy enters the race for the Democratic presidential nomination, saying McCarthy’s showing in New Hampshire “has proven how deep are the present divisions within our party and country.” It “is now unmistakably clear that we can change these disastrous, divisive policies only by changing the men who make them."
  • March 31: LBJ announces he is not running for re-election.
  • April 4: Martin Luther King Jr., in Memphis for the sanitation workers’ strike, is fatally shot on the April 4: balcony of the Lorraine Motel. Gunman James Earl Ray, a white supremacist, flees the country. Over the next week, riots in more than 100 cities nationwide leave 39 people dead, more than 2,600 injured and 21,000 arrested.
  • April 11: In the wake of Baltimore riots, Maryland Governor Spiro Agnew summons civil rights leaders...to attack them.
  • April 23: Students take over five buildings on Columbia University’s campus and briefly hold a dean hostage, calling for the university to cut its ties to military research. Before dawn on April 30 administrators call in the police, who respond with about 1,000 officers. More than 700 people are arrested, and 132 students, four faculty and 12 officers are injured.  Protests are unpopular, especially among people who have not been to college (who account for most adults in 1968).
  • May 17: Nine antiwar activists -- including Father Daniel Berrigan and Father Philip Berrigan -- enter a Selective Service office in Catonsville, Maryland, remove nearly 400 files and burn them in the parking lot with homemade napalm. The example of the Catonsville Nine (later convicted of destruction of government property and sentenced to jail terms between 24 and 42 months) spurs some 300 similar raids on draft boards over the next four years.
  • June 4: Robert F. Kennedy, gaining momentum in his presidential campaign, wins the California primary—and is assassinated at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles. Gunman Sirhan Sirhan, a Jordanian citizen of Palestinian descent, is captured at the scene. Now 73, he is serving life in prison. No, Kennedy probably would not have won the nomination if he had lived.
  • August 5-8: Republican National Convention formally nominates Nixon for president.
  • August 20: The Soviet Union invades Czechoslovakia, halting the Prague Spring.
  • August 28: At the Democratic National Convention in Chicago, police and Illinois National Guardsmen go on a rampage, clubbing and tear-gassing hundreds of antiwar demonstrators, news reporters and bystanders, with much of the violence broadcast on national TV. The next day, Vice President Hubert Humphrey, perceived as the heir of Johnson’s war policies, wins the nomination, chooses Senator Edmund Muskie of Maine as his running mate.
Nixon Acceptance




The Democratic Convention




From the Roper Center: "The country certainly appeared to sympathize with the police more than the protestors. In a Gallup poll, 56% approved of the police response to anti-war protestors and 31% did not. In a Harris survey, 66% agreed that Daley was right in the way he used police against the demonstrators, against only 20% who disagreed. Just 14% in the same poll agreed that protestors had had their rights to protest taken away; 66% who did not. "









Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Conservative Democrats and liberal Republicans

I stumbled across this article from Vox this afternoon concerning Sen. Sanders's decision to enter the 2020 presidential race. The beginning of the article touches on the issue of seeming "gaps" between the demographics within the Democratic Party that identify as "liberal" or "conservative", and how those terms have not always been inherently tied to a specific party.

This article reminded me of the discussion earlier in the course that involved Nixon identifying as a liberal, and Kennedy identifying as a conservative - labels that today do not seem aligned with their respective political parties. Coming of age in this this political climate has made the idea of conservative Democrats and liberal Republicans almost unthinkable, but this article and the earlier discussion is a reminder that a less polarized political climate is possible.

America in the 1960s and the Nixon Comeback

From Baskir & Strauss, Chance and Circumstance (Vintage, 1978).



Tet and the New Hampshire Democratic primary:


April 4, 1968, Indianapolis:



No, Kennedy probably would not have won the nomination if he had lived.


Wallace takes office, January 14, 1963



NIXON NEVER SAID THAT HE HAD A "SECRET PLAN" TO END THE VIETNAM WAR.

Nelson 117-118:  RN learns about television

From Joe McGinniss, The Selling of the President 1968 (paper ed. p. 101):

"You know what I'd like?" Ailes said later. "As long as we've got this extra spot open.“A good, mean, Wallaceite cab driver. Wouldn't that be great? Some guy to sit there and say, Awright, mac, what about these n------?


br

Monday, February 18, 2019

Nixon spotting in Whittier

Hi all,

I was home this weekend and wanted to share this piece of art installed as homage to our most famous (and controversial) one-time resident.


This mural was comissioned by local business owners Gio Alonso and Leeba Lessin to memorialize the link between Nixon and Whittier. In an interview with Whittier College's newspaper, Alonso recognized the contention surrounding the president's legacy, but wanted to honor his leadership and contributions in the fields of environmentalism, women's rights, and international relations.

This mural is the first piece of public art in Whittier, and can be found on Bailey Street.

Friday, February 15, 2019

Nixon Speechwriter Dies

Douglas Martin at NYT:
Raymond K. Price Jr., a cerebral, pipe-smoking speechwriter for President Richard M. Nixon who helped write the first and last words of his presidency, his Inaugural Addresses and his resignation speech, died on Wednesday in Manhattan. He was 88.
His former lawyer Zenon B. Masnyj said Mr. Price had had a stroke and died at Lenox Hill Hospital. He lived in Lower Manhattan.
Mr. Price was the editorial page editor of The New York Herald Tribune when it closed in 1966, and when he joined Nixon’s nascent second presidential campaign the next year, he brought with him the sort of moderate Republicanism that had characterized that newspaper’s opinion pages.
His loyalty to Nixon was never-bending, even though he later admitted that he had been “deceived” by the president on aspects of the Watergate cover-up at the time it happened.

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Things Fall Apart

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 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.



2.  RN:  THE COMEBACK KID

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.

1964:  Goldwater recites Harry Jaffa line while RN sits next to Barry, Jr.:






LBJ approval


Image result for lyndon johnson approval rating


October 21, 1964:


Riots (Nelson 46-47)



Image result for violent crime by year

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Do-Gooders Try to Help Nixon in 1960

From John Farrell's Richard Nixon: The Life, on reports of Chicago voter fraud in the 1960 election:
Suburban do-gooders, outraged by reports of fraud, canvassed the city's neighborhoods for evidence of wrongdoing. Among them was a thirteen-year-old Young Republican whom Americans would come to know as Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Wilderness

NIXON COULD REALLY PLAY THE PIANO:





  Image result for 1960 election by state electoral

What if: an interactive map

Popular vote was pretty close in most states


Image result for 1960 election by county


JFK
California and the Brown Family




Last press conference




JFK gloats with Pat Brown (see Matthews, p. 218)




Sunday, February 10, 2019

American Idealist: The Story of Sargent Shriver

American Idealist: The Story of Sargent Shriver

A very interesting documentary that focuses on Sargent Shriver, JFK's brother-in-law, and provides insights into the Kennedy administration, the dynamics within it and more generally, the time period we are discussing.
Shriver also came to be McGovern's running mate in the 1972 presidential election, thus more directly linking him to the man himself, Richard Nixon.

Thursday, February 7, 2019

1960

The Kennedys v. Hoffa:







NIXON ARGUES AGAINST THE CUBA INVASION THAT HE ACTUALLY SUPPORTS


And a deeply ironic moment:











But don't 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)

Gallup Data

1956                1960
D         R         D         R
Prot     37        63        38        62       

Cath    51        49        78        22






1952
1956
1960
1964
1968
White
R
57
59
51
41
47
D
43
41
49
59
38
Nonwhite
21
39
32
6
13
D
79
61
68
94
87



Image result for 1956 1960 election survey demographics


Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Then and Now - Nixon/Trump Connection to Elvis Presley

Elvis Presley and the Medal of Freedom: How would the King have felt about this honour from Trump? By Clémence Michallon

In November 2018, Trump awarded Presley the Presidential Medal of Freedom. In the Independent article, author Clémence Michallon explores how the icon would react to receiving the honor from President Trump. Michallon discusses that when asked of his political opinions on the draft and women's movements. Presley politely refused to comment. However he personally visited President Nixon to give him a gift and express his interest in helping with the war on drugs, believing his ability to reach all ages would help with drug prevention. Presley had also mentioned his dislike for the Beatles as he thought they promoted an anti-American ideology. Based on his avid support for Nixon, law enforcement and war against drugs, Elvis Presley appeared to be much more conservative than his entertainment industry counterparts at the time. Because of this, the Independent thought that Elvis wouldn't mind receiving the award from Trump.

The article references local Memphis paper, The Commercial Appeal's comparison of Trump's meeting with Kayne West to this Nixon meeting with Presley. Just as Nixon met with Elvis, Trump interacts with many celebrities such as Meryl Streep, Anna Wintour and Chrissy Teigen. While these interactions aren't necessarily as good-natured as Nixon's with Presley, they do illustrate the still ever present connection between politics and the entertainment industry.


Nixon and Trump on Investigations, State of the Union

Nixon addressed the Watergate investigation in his 1974 State of the Union Address (43:00).




Trump stated last night, "An economic miracle is taking place in the United States, and the only thing that can stop it are foolish wars, politics, or ridiculous, partisan investigations. If there is going to be peace in legislation, there cannot be war and investigation. It just does not work that way."

Nixon clearly addressed the Watergate investigation by name and highlighted his cooperation, whereas Trump was far less specific and did not mention cooperation. They both used their other accomplishments and objectives (Nixon highlights the welfare of the country's people and the programs he speaks of; Trump focuses on economic growth and job numbers) to support their desire for the end of investigation.

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Dick, Jack, and Ike

This SNL sketch was about Reagan, but it was actually a pretty accurate depiction of Dwight Eisenhower.



After 1952, RN had the reputation of a hatchetman.

In his autobiography, RN, he wrote:
I also criticized Secretary of State Dean Acheson, whose policies toward international Communism, I said, had lost us China, much of Eastern Europe, and had invited the Communists to begin the Korean war. I used a phrase that caught the —and the commentators' wrath—when I charged that Stevenson was a graduate of Acheson's “Cowardly College of Communist Containment.” Many years later, when I was President, Acheson and I became friends, and he was one of my most valued trusted unofficial advisers. In this campaign, however, his clipped moustache, his British tweeds, and his haughty manner made him the perfect foil for my attacks on the snobbish kind of foreign service personality and mentality that had been taken in hook, line, and sinker by the Communists.  Today I regret the intensity of those attacks. 
Video documentary (start at 37:30)

Heart Attack and  Stevenson, election eve broadcast 1956 (see Matthews p. 113):
I must say bluntly that every piece of scientific evidence we have, every lesson of history and experience indicates that a Republican victory tomorrow would mean that Richard Nixon would probably be President of this country within the next four years. I say frankly, as a citizen more than a candidate, that I recoil at the prospect of Mr. Nixon as custodian of this nation's future, as guardian of the hydrogen bomb, as representative of America in the world, as commander-in-chief of the United States Armed Forces.
Nixon on Eisenhower:
He was a far more complex and devious man than most people realized, and in the best sense of those words. Not shackled to a one-track mind, he always applied two, three,or four lines of reasoning to a single problem, and he usually preferred the indirect approach where it would serve him better than the direct attack on a problem. His mind was quick and facile. His thoughts far outraced his speech and this gave rise to his frequent ‘scrambled syntax’ which more perceptive critics should have recognized as the mark of a far-ranging and versatile mind rather than an indication of poor training in grammar.

JFK 1956:  Profiles in Courage and Democratic convention




Cold War : VENEZUELA!



Cold War: The Kitchen Debate



Color version (gets a little heated around 5:30):


THE STORY OF THE POKE PICTURE

Cold War: U-2

Monday, February 4, 2019

State of the Union Comparisons: Nixon v. Trump

In light of President Trump’s State of the Union address - scheduled to broadcast tomorrow night -
many news outlets are comparing the heightened tensions surrounding this particular address to
President Nixon’s 1974 State of the Union address. In 1974, Nixon was in the heat of the Watergate
scandal. Are these comparisons to Trump’s situation valid?

Ted Widmer, who served as a speech writer during the Clinton administration, wrote in a Washington
Post article (which you can read here):


Trump is a profoundly different person than Nixon: Nixon was a lifelong politician, Trump a developer turned professional celebrity. Nixon was terrible on TV; Trump thrives on it. Nixon loved to study the global chessboard. With Trump, foreign policy is more like whack-a-mole. (Widmer)

Although the atmosphere in Washington in 1974 may have been just as anxiety-filled and tense as it is
now, Trump and Nixon are fundamentally different with regards to their personalities, experience, and
political strategy.  

Revision

Economist John Kenneth Galbraith, who served as JFK's ambassador to India, wrote:
The question of revision is closely allied with that of inspiration. There may be inspired writers for whom the first draft is just right. But anyone who is not certifiably a Milton had better assume that the first draft is a very primitive thing. The reason is simple: Writing is difficult work. Ralph Paine, who managed Fortune in my time, used to say that anyone who said writing was easy was either a bad writer or an unregenerate liar. Thinking, as Voltaire avowed, is also a very tedious thing which men—or women—will do anything to avoid. So all first drafts are deeply flawed by the need to combine composition with thought. Each later draft is less demanding in this regard. Hence the writing can be better. There does come a time when revision is for the sake of change—when one has become so bored with the words that anything that is different looks better. But even then it may be better
(h/t Prof. Lynch)

There is a Nixon connection.  His first Washington job was at the Office of Price Administration, where Galbraith was deputy administrator.

Saturday, February 2, 2019

RN's Cameo on a Roger Stone T-Shirt


Nixon and Kennedy--Presidents Prone to Conspiring?

From Matthew's book, I've gathered that Nixon and Kennedy were similar in their high ambitions and ruthless pursuit of political power. An article that I recently read regarding conspiracy theories details how the two former presidents were just as motivated to get what then wanted while in office as they were on the campaign trail... In Are Conspiracy Theorists Epistemically Vicious?, Charles Pidgen writes that Kennedy and Nixon were behind some of the most significant covert operations carried out by the United States government.

After mentioning the classic example of an American political conspiracy, Watergate, Pidgen writes that "the conspiracies perpetrated by the Nixon administration at home were as nothing to the conspiracies that they perpetrated abroad"

Pidgen elaborates...

"One was the Menu program, a series of secret and illegal bombing raids in Cambodia, initiated by Nixon and Kissinger and kept carefully secret from the Congress, the Press and even parts of the military (hence an ‘event or practice’ largely due ‘to the machinations of powerful people, who attempt[ed] to conceal their role’). This helped to destabilize the Sihanouk regime, leading to the rise of Pol Pot and the deaths of millions of people. The dropping of 108,823 tons of bombs was surely a matter of some pith and moment especially for the people who were killed, maimed and blown up. (Shawcross, 1986, ch. 1.) There is now quite a lot of data on the many other conspiracies in which the Nixon Whitehouse, and in particular Henry Kissinger, played a prominent part. One intriguing example is the conspiracy to kidnap – and maybe assassinate – the Chilean Army Commander Rene Schneider, because Schneider (unlike Nixon) believed that the Constitution required the Chilean Army to allow the Marxist Allende to assume power on the obviously frivolous grounds that Allende had won the election. The general was in fact murdered and the people who did it were paid $35000 by the US government (quite a large sum in those days) ‘for humanitarian reasons’. (Hitchens, pp. 61-73.)...Another example is the eventual overthrow of Allende by Pinochet (Hitchens, 2001, chs. 5 & 6.) and a third is the coup against President Archbishop Makarios, which led to the Turkish invasion and the partition of Cyprus (Hitchens, 2001, ch. 7.)"

Next, Pidgen describes Kennedy's conspiracies...

"The Bay of Pigs was a prime example of a failed conspiracy, and Robert MacNamara recounts in his memoir In Retrospect how the Kennedy administration connived at the conspiracy to depose President Ngo Dinh Diem (the nearest thing that South Vietnam had to a democratically elected leader), a conspiracy that led to his murder and that of his brother Nhu. (McNamara, 1996, pp. 52-55.) Ho Chih Minh is said to have commented ‘I can scarcely believe that the Americans could be so stupid’, implying of course that he took it for granted that the Americans were largely responsible for Diem’s deposition and death."

I wonder what this truth is behind all the conspiracies that Pidgen tied Nixon to and also about the President Ngo Dinh Diem conspiracy? Also, were Nixon and Kennedy were indeed more prone to undertaking covert missions than other US presidents?

Friday, February 1, 2019

America's "Silent Majority"

Former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz has inspired backlash from within the Democratic Party after he began openly toying with the idea of running for president. Many within the party believe his independent leanings would wean away votes from Democrats, possibly ensuring another Republican victory in 2020.

Schultz's approach is to brand himself as an alternative to a political system that doesn't listen or consider the concerns of America's "silent majority" - a phrase popularized by Nixon after he delivered a 1969 speech regarding Vietnam protests.

What does Schultz's usage of this phrase mean for Nixon's enduring influence in American politics, and further, for Schultz's own campaign tactics?