Posted by: Jim | July 18, 2007

Nixon Redux


Nixon has popped up in the culture again. First, a new book is out that was actually written 30 years ago about the Frost/Nixon interviews. A long delay is finally over and the book is out.

More notably, a memo was recently declassified. I downloaded it and read it. It’s a really amazing slice of history, and I highly recommend it for anyone with even a passing interest in the Nixon years. The memo–in a weird way–does cast a sympathetic light on Nixon. The reason it is weird is that his inexhorable flaw is so blatant in the e-mail: the man was extremely insecure. Its purpose is to convey a single message: The Nixon Administration needed to improve the way the President was perceived by the “Average American.”

In the memo, Nixon comes off as intelligent, thorough, but incredibly duplicitous. He repeatedly says he has no intention of recounting all his good deeds to help his image, but drones on and on in the e-mail about all the good, warm, kind things he has done. He says he called a fellow who was on his deathbed, but adds, “I didn’t tell anyone about the call, and won’t.”

I see. It’s hard to argue with the President. You’re a good man, sir. A warm man … sir.



  1. Nixon, like so many men who aspire to power, was born in the wrong place and the wrong time. He should have been a Medieval Feudal Lord — surrounded by flatterers, beholden to no one but a distant king, and wielding total power over his small domain, he likely would have been less paranoid and more benevolent — perhaps, dare I say, JUST.

    Similarly, George Bush should have been born in another time and place; he should have been Nixon’s court jester/whipping boy.

    * * *

  2. The memo also uncovers a serious flaw in Nixon’s ability to convey what a nice guy he is. He says things like, “I never treated them like they were dirt under my feet.” Heheh … it’s the same mistake he made when he said “I am not a crook.” You can’t pluck a thought out of someone’s mind by putting it there to begin with. Maybe this is one of the reasons he was so horribly misunderstood. 😉

  3. I love the depiction of a Nixon-like President in Philip Roth’s Our Gang. Savage and very funny.

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