Richard M. Nixon

You are currently browsing articles tagged Richard M. Nixon.

It’s understandable that news outlets must pay mind to the President-Elect’s every tweet and one-liner, but maybe his surprising comments, like yesterday’s “insurance for everybody” boast, shouldn’t be taken so seriously. These off-the-cuff remarks seem to me the impetuous, empty promises of a rich clown.

The manic changes in position are, however, a warning sign: Someone who’s behaved in such a seriously unwell manner will now control the full arsenal of the Oval Office, a peerless amount of power, even if a feckless, opportunistic Congress pushes back on certain items. No one in the world can do more damage.

Nixon White House Counsel John Dean, no choir boy himself when it comes to ethics, fears Trump’s capacity for unleashing ill on the world may go unmitigated by his shame-free personality and traditional checks and balances. He might seem like the last person who should talk, except that he’s probably right. From a Dean interview by McKay Coppins of the Atlantic:

“I used to have one-on-one conversations with [Nixon] where I’d see him checking his more authoritarian tendencies,” Dean recalled. “He’d say, ‘This is something I can’t say out loud…’ or, ‘That is something the president can’t do.’” To Dean, these moments suggested a functioning sense of shame in Nixon, something he was forced to wrestle with in his quest for power. Trump, by contrast, appears to Dean unmolested by any such struggle.

Unchecked, Dean worries, these neo-Nixonian instincts will only grow stronger once Trump enters the Oval Office—a place where every occupant since Nixon has found new ways to expand his authority and further his reach. “Barack Obama, like most presidents, did not dispose of any of the executive powers he inherited,” Dean said. “Hang on when Trump and his crew fully appreciate the extraordinary powers they will have—it is not only going to be thrilling, but dangerous.” (Dean, who now considers himself an independent, was also strongly critical of George W. Bush’s presidency.)

Those hoping Trump’s presidency will end in a Watergate-style meltdown point to the litany of scandals-in-waiting that will follow him into office—from his alleged ties to Russia, to the potential conflicts of interest lurking in his vast business network. Dean agrees that “he’s carrying loads of potential problems into the White House with him,” and goes even further in his assessment: “I don’t think Richard Nixon even comes to close to the level of corruption we already know about Trump.”

Yet, he’s profoundly pessimistic about the prospect of Trump facing any true accountability while in office. In the four decades since Nixon resigned, Dean says, the institutions that are meant to keep a president’s power in check—the press, Congress, even the courts—have been rendered increasingly weak and ineffectual by a sort of creeping partisan paralysis.•

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When Jonathan Franzen, who’s not going to stop, met President Obama, he informed our Commander in Chief that Richard Nixon was the “last Liberal President.” Obama responded, “Yeah, the only problem was he was crazy.” Largely true on both counts.

I’ve mentioned before that Nixon, who succeeded LBJ and his “War on Poverty,” attempted to establish Guaranteed Basic Income in the U.S., which came awfully close to happening. For a number of reasons, technological and political among them, the idea probably has more currency among Liberal, Conservative and Libertarian think tanks than anytime since, though those vying for higher office, Bernie Sanders included, dare not speak its name. If GBI resulted in a total dismantling of all other social safety nets, it could do more harm than good. If done correctly, however, it could help working-class people survive the hollowing out of the middle.

At Alternet, Rutger Bregman recalls Nixon’s effort. An excerpt:

Few people today are aware that the United States was just a hair’s breadth from realizing a social safety net at least as extensive as those in most western European countries. When President Lyndon B. Johnson declared his “War on Poverty” in 1964, Democrats and Republicans alike rallied behind fundamental welfare reforms.

First, however, some trial runs were needed. Tens of millions of dollars were budgeted to provide a basic income for more than 8,500 Americans in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Iowa, North Carolina, Indiana, Seattle and Denver in what were also the first-ever large-scale social experiments to distinguish experimental and control groups. The researchers wanted answers to three questions: (1) Would people work significantly less if they receive a guaranteed income? (2) Would the program be too expensive? (3) Would it prove politically unfeasible?

The answers were no, no and yes.

Declines in working hours were limited across the board. “[The] declines in hours of paid work were undoubtedly compensated in part by other useful activities, such as search for better jobs or work in the home,” noted the Seattle experiment’s concluding report. For example, one mother who had dropped out of high school worked less in order to earn a degree in psychology and get a job as a researcher. Another woman took acting classes; her husband began composing music. “We’re now self-sufficient, income-earning artists,” she told the researchers. Among youth included in the experiment, almost all the hours not spent on paid work went into more education. Among the New Jersey subjects, the rate of high school graduations rose 30 percent.

And thus, in August 1968, President Nixon presented a bill providing for a modest basic income, calling it “the most significant piece of social legislation in our nation’s history.” A White House poll found 90 percent of all newspapers enthusiastically receptive to the plan. The National Council of Churches was in favor, and so were the labor unions and even the corporate sector (see Brian Steensland’s book The Failed Welfare Resolution, page 69). At the White House, a telegram arrived declaring, “Two upper middle class Republicans who will pay for the program say bravo.” Pundits were even going around quoting Victor Hugo—“Nothing is stronger than an idea whose time has come.”

It seemed that the time for a basic income had well and truly arrived.•

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At the time of Watergate, the Presidency itself was seen as the problem, that no one person could handle running the most powerful country in the free world, but now I think gerrymandering and the way we apportion national senate seats without regard to population is more the trouble. The system still works, but certainly not optimally, sometimes barely. 

Because of a promotional tie-in with a new Tom Hanks documentary about the ’70s, the Atlantic is presenting several of its key articles from that decade, including Arthur Schlesinger’s 1973 piece “The Runaway Presidency.” An excerpt:

The crisis of the presidency has led some critics to advocate a reconstruction of the institution itself. For a long time people have felt that the job was becoming too much for one man to handle. “Men of ordinary physique and discretion,” Woodrow Wilson wrote as long ago as 1908, “cannot be Presidents and live, if the strain be not somehow relieved. We shall be obliged always to be picking our chief magistrate from among wise and prudent athletes,—a small class.”

But what was seen until the late 1950s as too exhausting physically is now seen, after Vietnam and Watergate, as too dizzying psychologically. In 1968 Eugene McCarthy, the first liberal presidential aspirant in the century to run against the presidency, called for the depersonalization and decentralization of the office. The White House, he thought, should be turned into a museum. Instead of trying to lead the nation, the President should become “a kind of channel” for popular desires and aspirations. Watergate has made the point irresistible. “The office has become too complex and its reach too extended,” writes Barbara Tuchman, “to be trusted to the fallible judgment of any one individual.” “A man with poor judgment, an impetuous man, a sick man, a power-mad man,” adds Max Lerner, “each would be dangerous in the post. Even an able, sensitive man needs stronger safeguards around him than exist today.”

The result is a new wave of proposals to transform the presidency into a collegial institution. Mrs. Tuchman suggests a six-man directorate with a rotating chairman, each member to serve for a year, as in Switzerland. Lerner wants to give the President a Council of State, a body that he would be bound by law to consult and that, because half its members would be from Congress and some from the opposite party, would presumably give him independent advice. Both proposals were, in fact, considered and rejected at the Constitutional Convention.

Hamilton and Jefferson disagreed on many things, but they agreed that the convention had been right in deciding on a one-man presidency. A plural executive, Hamilton contended, if divided within itself, would lead the country into factionalism and anarchy and, if united, could lead it into tyranny.•

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Carl Djerassi, the chemist credited with creating the birth-control pill and abetting the women’s movement and sexual revolution of the 1960s, just passed away. A true polymath, he was devoted to writing plays and collecting art just as much to rewriting the rules of mating. He was also subsequently thwarted by pharmaceutical companies when he wanted to create a male pill. In a 1976 People article, Nancy Faber profiled Djerassi during his tenure as a Stanford professor and recalled his discombobulating relationship with President Nixon. An excerpt: 

Stanford Professor Carl Djerassi invited some students to his house for an evening conference and two of them showed up with a gift. Not exactly an apple for the teacher. It was a box of pink condoms. Djerassi was delighted.

It was the perfect token of esteem for a well-liked faculty member who also happens to be the research chemist who developed the birth control pill. His course in human biology was examining various methods of controlling population. (The unusual gift was brought back from Kenya where the two students had gone to study birth control techniques.)

“I don’t think there is such a thing as one best method of birth control,” Djerassi tells his classes. “If the most important thing is to be 100 percent effective, then the Pill is the best we have. If you are more concerned about side effects, then a condom is a hell of a lot better.” He adds: “It is unrealistic not to expect some side effects. You get them with tobacco, alcohol and penicillin.”

The professor, 52, is not at all reluctant to plunge into the Pill controversy. At a recent campus colloquium, he heard one young woman charge: “Sure, we have control of our fertility now, but at the cost of our health. What kind of control do we really have if we have to make that kind of bargain?” After listening to Djerassi on the subject, another participant admitted: “I’m really surprised that he is so receptive to other ideas. He advocates what is called the cafeteria approach to birth control—whatever works.”

Students are often surprised to learn that Djerassi’s career is rooted in academe as well as in the drug industry. Born in Vienna in 1923, he was educated in the United States (Kenyon College and the University of Wisconsin) after he emigrated when he was 16. He had his Ph.D. by his 22nd birthday. Five years later, in 1951, as an employee of the Mexico City-based Syntex Corporation, Djerassi led the research team that synthesized the first contraceptive pill. …

Restlessly energetic even in his leisure hours, Djerassi hikes and skis despite a fused knee suffered in a skiing accident. Rather than drop either sport, Djerassi collaborated with one of his students in designing a special boot to compensate for the knee’s loss of mobility. When he travels, the professor gets a letter from airline presidents guaranteeing him an aisle seat so he can stretch out his leg.

Djerassi has accumulated an extensive art collection weighted toward pre-Columbian artifacts and an equally impressive number of honors from every corner of the scientific community. He recalls none of the testimonials as vividly as the National Medal of Science awarded him by Richard Nixon in 1973. Two weeks later Djerassi discovered his name on the notorious White House enemies list.•

 

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I don’t use illegal drugs, and I don’t think you should, either. They’re bad for you. But that doesn’t mean I support any cockamamie “War on Drugs.” That’s just bad policy crashing into stark reality. I think if someone sells drugs to a minor, they should be given a prison sentence. Otherwise, the whole thing should be decriminalized. That doesn’t mean it should be legalized. Relatively mild substances like marijuana should be legal and arrests for other harder drugs should be met with out-patient rehab and community-service sentences, for both dealers and buyers. 

Of course, the situation is further complicated because you don’t have to do anything illegal to get a dangerous high. The number of Americans attaining painkillers, Oxy and others, with prescriptions is staggering. I don’t doubt these folks have pain, though usually it’s more mental than physical. The pusher got pushed by Big Pharma, and attempting to cage that monster will only cause more problems, especially with the Internet opening up global sales far too large to be prosecuted with precision.

Mike Jay, who wrote this brilliant article for Aeon last year, returns to the same publication with a piece that doesn’t try to make sense of this unwinnable war but to show how senseless it is in the light of history and the new normal. The opening:

“When the US President Richard Nixon announced his ‘war on drugs’ in 1971, there was no need to define the enemy. He meant, as everybody knew, the type of stuff you couldn’t buy in a drugstore. Drugs were trafficked exclusively on ‘the street’, within a subculture that was immediately identifiable (and never going to vote for Nixon anyway). His declaration of war was for the benefit the majority of voters who saw these drugs, and the people who used them, as a threat to their way of life. If any further clarification was needed, the drugs Nixon had in his sights were the kind that was illegal.

Today, such certainties seem quaint and distant. This May, the UN office on drugs and crime announced that at least 348 ‘legal highs’ are being traded on the global market, a number that dwarfs the total of illegal drugs. This loosely defined cohort of substances is no longer being passed surreptitiously among an underground network of ‘drug users’ but sold to anybody on the internet, at street markets and petrol stations. It is hardly a surprise these days when someone from any stratum of society – police chiefs, corporate executives, royalty – turns out to be a drug user. The war on drugs has conspicuously failed on its own terms: it has not reduced the prevalence of drugs in society, or the harms they cause, or the criminal economy they feed. But it has also, at a deeper level, become incoherent. What is a drug these days?

Consider, for example, the category of stimulants, into which the majority of ‘legal highs’ are bundled. In Nixon’s day there was, on the popular radar at least, only ‘speed’: amphetamine, manufactured by biker gangs for hippies and junkies. This unambiguously criminal trade still thrives, mostly in the more potent form of methamphetamine: the world knows its face from the US TV series Breaking Bad, though it is at least as prevalent these days in Prague, Bangkok or Cape Town. But there are now many stimulants whose provenance is far more ambiguous.

Pharmaceuticals such as modafinil and Adderall have become the stay-awake drugs of choice for students, shiftworkers and the jet-lagged: they can be bought without prescription via the internet, host to a vast and vigorously expanding grey zone between medical and illicit supply. Traditional stimulant plants such as khat or coca leaf remain legal and socially normalised in their places of origin, though they are banned as ‘drugs’ elsewhere. La hoja de coca no es droga! (the coca leaf is not a drug) has become the slogan behind which Andean coca-growers rally, as the UN attempts to eradicate their crops in an effort to block the global supply of cocaine. Meanwhile, caffeine has become the indispensable stimulant of modern life, freely available in concentrated forms such as double espressos and energy shots, and indeed sold legally at 100 per cent purity on the internet, with deadly consequences. ‘Legal’ and ‘illegal’ are no longer adequate terms for making sense of this hyperactive global market.”

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Dick Cavett has the distinction of being the only talk-show host to land on Richard Nixon’s “Enemies List.” His “crime”? He focused segments of his great ABC program on the President’s crimes (no quotation marks required). Here’s the trailer for Dick Cavett’s Watergate, which runs next month on PBS.

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You ever wonder how someone–that person–became successful and famous and known all over the world? Maybe if things had gone differently and they didn’t get a particular opening, they would have been working a much smaller stage.

I think that way about the Rev. Billy Graham, the pulpit master who became a White House chaplain of sorts across several generations, thanks to two gatekeeper guardian angels, William Randolph Hearst and Henry Luce, anointing him America’s preacher. While Graham’s continuous access to the nation’s highest office may be unusual, at least he’s not a dunderhead like his son, Franklin, nor is he lacking in gravitas as is the grinning megachurch mogul Joel Osteen, an aspirationalist with heavenly hair.

Two excerpts follow from “Blunt Billy,” Roy Rowan’s 1975 People interview with Graham, in which the evangelist discusses becoming Hearst’s rosebud, and his disappointment in Richard Nixon over Watergate.

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People:

Have you been surprised by your success? 

Rev. Billy Graham:

Extremely. There were two men who were the keys to my impact and success. One was William Randolph Hearst. I never met him, but I was told by William Randolph Hearst Jr. that one night in 1949 his father came with Marion Davies to a service out of curiosity, went back to the office and sent a two-word teletype to all of his newspapers: PUFF GRAHAM! The next night the place was crawling with reporters and photographers. I said, “What’s happened?” They said, “You’ve just been kissed by William Randolph Hearst.” 

People:

Who was the other man? 

Rev. Billy Graham:

Henry Luce. At Bernard Baruch’s suggestion, Mr. Luce got on an airplane and flew to Columbia, S.C., where I was preaching and spent three days with me. We stayed in the same house. He wanted to see if I was real. We’d sit up until 2 a.m. talking. After that I was on the cover of LIFE two times and the cover of TIME once. 

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People:

Why did you feel compelled to speak out on Watergate?

Rev. Billy Graham:

Richard Nixon was my friend. I admired him a great deal, and I respected him. I knew his father and his mother. I participated in the funeral of his mother. But just as Johnson was caught in the Vietnam war, Nixon was caught in Watergate. In defending some of his friends, Nixon just got deeper and deeper and deeper. He didn’t realize what was happening was actually breaking the law.

People:

Do you think President Nixon was personally guilty of misconduct?

Rev. Billy Graham:

I would have to say he was. I really believed in him, but I didn’t know that all that stuff was on tape. When the language came out which I had never heard, and the apparent misrepresentation to the American people, I was shocked and surprised. This was a Nixon I didn’t know.

People:

Did discovering this “Nixon you didn’t know” change your feeling about him?

Rev. Billy Graham:

I would have to use the word “disappointment.” Yet I still have great affection for Nixon, and great respect for him. As Special Watergate Prosecutor Leon Jaworski said, Nixon went through something worse than death. Nixon amazingly has lived through it. For about a year, we weren’t in contact much. Now our friendship has been reestablished. I stopped in San Clemente recently and spent an hour with him. He’s more like his old self before he became President. He’s joking, he’s kidding, he’s laughing a lot. Watergate was barely mentioned. You can see that he has overcome the psychological hump.

People:

How should Nixon make amends?

Rev. Billy Graham:

Nixon can tell the total truth in the book he’s writing. I think he will. But I could be wrong. I was wrong before.

People:

What do you think is in Nixon’s future?

Rev. Billy Graham:

Mr. Nixon is a tremendous student. After he lost the California governor’s race, he didn’t think he’d ever have a chance politically again. I said to him, “Mr. Lincoln once said, ‘I will prepare, and someday my chance will come.’ ” I said, “You get prepared, and there’ll be a place of service for you somewhere.” I was thinking he might be secretary of state. I was not thinking of him as President of the United States. Now I would seriously doubt if Nixon would ever be called back into government service.

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D.A. Pennebaker, Shirley Clarke and Albert Maysles captured the Khrushchev-era exhibition of American consumer goods that was held in Moscow in 1959, the Iron Curtain briefly lifted. On display was the handiwork of Charles Eames, Buckminster Fuller and many others. The Kitchen Debates between Nixon and his Soviet counterpart took place during this event.

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President Obama believes in Affirmative Action and improving health care and the environment, but so did President Nixon. Before big money, lobbyists and religion became entrenched in American politics, there was common ground. The opening of “Fighting to Save the Earth From Man,” a gated article from the February 20, 1970 issue of Time:

“The great question of the ’70s is:

Shall we surrender to our surroundings or shall we make our peace with nature and begin to make reparations for the damage we have done to our air, to our land and to our water?

—State of the Union Message

NIXON’S words come none too early. The U.S. environment is seriously threatened by the prodigal garbage of the world’s richest economy. In the President’s own boyhood town of Whittier, a part of metropolitan Los Angeles, the once sweet air is befouled with carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons, lead compounds, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, fly ash, asbestos particulates and countless other noxious substances. The Apollo 10 astronauts could see Los Angeles as a cancerous smudge from 25,000 miles in outer space. Airline pilots say that whisky-brown miasmas, visible from 70 miles, shroud almost every U.S. city, including remote towns like Missoula in Montana’s ‘big sky’ country. What most Americans now breathe is closer to ambient filth than to air.

The environment may well be the gut issue that can unify a polarized nation in the 1970s. It may also divide people who are appalled by the mess from those who have adapted to it. No one knows how many Americans have lost all feeling for nature and the quality of life. Even so, the issue now attracts young and old, farmers, city dwellers and suburban housewives, scientists, industrialists and blue-collar workers. They know pollution well. It is as close as the water tap, the car-clogged streets and junk-filled landscape—their country’s visible decay, America the Ugly.

Politicians have got the message.”

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From a colorful Hollywood Reporter essay about the colorful David Frost by former girlfriend Caroline Cushing Graham, who was with him during the Frost-Nixon interviews and was played by Rebecca Hall in the Ron Howard film:

“In 1975 David and I traveled to Florida for a series of The Guinness Book of World Record shows he hosted. One was about the fattest man, the sword swallower, and another about a post office built for small people. The human bomb blew himself up for the camera, he had added an extra stick of dynamite to impress David. We were impressed and horrified by the effort – that was a typical Frost program.

In February 1977 David asked me to come to Beverly Hills, where he was preparing for the historic interviews with Richard Nixon. At the time there was anxiety and money needed, and ads to be sold to pay for the cable TV channel airing the interviews. In the Beverly Hilton, a group of famous journalists were researching questions with David, along with our good friend and advisor Clay Felker, founder of New York and New West magazines. 

David worked himself to the bone in Beverly Hills, with a painful root canal emergency done a few days before the Laguna Beach interviews. I accompanied David with the team down south to Laguna, he did not drive, contrary to the Frost/Nixon movie. As David prepared to interview Richard Nixon, I made the sandwiches for their lunch. When the last days’ interview was over, there were 28 hours of interviews, Nixon invited us for drinks at the Western White House. Diane Sawyer accompanied us to a private room for cocktails. Nixon asked me if I liked good wine, as he was proud of his cellar. Driving away that evening I felt sorry for Nixon, he was so lonely and we were going to a party at Ma Maison, where Sammy Kahn was performing.

Nixon had said to David, as we posed for a photograph with him:  ‘Marry that girl, she lives in Monte Carlo.’ David laughed at Nixon’s remark and it became a standing joke between us – he used it in his book I Gave Them a Sword.  As we returned to Beverly Hills David was anxious to meet with his team and get their reaction to the interviews before we went out to dinner.”

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From a later David Frost special for the Guinness Book of World Records, in 1986:

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Like the first President he served, former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger became quite a baseball junkie, especially in his post-Washington career. At the 15:40 mark of this episode of The Baseball of World of Joe Garagiola, we see Kissinger, who could only seem competent when standing alongside that block of wood Bowie Kuhn, being honored at Fenway Park before the second game of the sensational 1975 World Series. During the raucous run by the raffish New York Mets in the second half of 1980s, both Nixon and Kissinger became mainstays at Shea Stadium. Nixon was known to send congratulatory personal notes to the players, including Darryl Strawberry. It was criminals rooting for criminals.

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A lot of people died unnecessarily because of Richard Nixon’s policies, but you have to say one thing for him: At least he never stabbed his wife. FromThe Genius,” Norman Mailer’s 1972 New York Review of Books account of the 37th American President, who was always trying to shed the discomfort he felt with his own skin:

“He walks like a puppet more curious than most human beings, for all the strings are pulled by a hand within his own head, an inquiring hand which never pulls the same string in quite the same way as the previous time—it is always trying something out—and so the movements of his arms and legs while superficially conventional, even highly restrained, are all impregnated with attempts, still timid—after all these years!—to express attitudes and emotions with his body. But he handles his body like an adolescent suffering excruciations of self-consciousness with every move. After all these years! It is as if his incredible facility of brain which manages to capture every contradiction in every question put to him, and never fails to reply with the maximum of advantage for himself in a language which is resolutely without experiment, is, facile and incredible brain, off on a journey of inquiry into the stubborn refusal of the body to obey it.

He must be obsessed with the powers he could employ if his body could also function intimately as an instrument of his will, as intimate perhaps as his intelligence (which has become so free of the distortions of serious moral motivation), but his body refuses. Like a recalcitrant hound, it refuses. So he is still trying out a half dozen separate gestures with each step, a turn of his neck to say one thing, a folding of his wrist to show another, a sprightly step up with one leg, a hint of a drag with the other, and all the movements are immediately restrained, pulled back to zero revelation as quickly as possible by a brain which is more afraid of what the body will reveal than of what it can discover by just once making an authentic move which gets authentic audience response. Yet he remains divided on the utility of this project. Stubborn as an animal, the body does not give up and keeps making its disjunctive moves while the will almost as quickly snaps them back.”

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Gore Vidal, who just passed away, encourages the impeachment of Richard Nixon in 1970 on Merv Griffin’s talk show.

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I exercise all over the city and the demographic most actively involved in athletics seems to be women in their 20s. That wasn’t always the case. Title IX, the Nike “If You Let Me Play” campaign and the women’s World Cup soccer victory in 2009 really changed hearts and minds, and sports bras became omnipresent. But Title IX was easily the most important factor of all. From Allen Barra’sFemale Athletes, Thank Nixon,” a smart New York Times opinion piece about arguably the most Liberal American President of the last 40 years, who did some very progressive things when not busy being a paranoid nutjob:

“Nixon did leave some legacies that may outlast the memory of Watergate. Historians have argued that he did a great deal to desegregate Southern schools; that he defied the conservatives in his party to open relations with China; and that he had a good record on the environment. Significantly, he brought women into the world of sports, through the portion of the 1972 Education Amendments better known as Title IX, whose 40th anniversary is celebrated on June 23.

But maybe because Nixon is, well, Nixon, there seems to be a concerted effort to separate the memory of the man from Title IX, which prohibits sex discrimination in federally financed education programs.

For instance, the ESPN Web site is running a tribute to the amendment called The Power of IX, which it praises as ‘a law whose ripple effects extend far beyond the U.S., creating a women’s sports culture awash in opportunity.’ But there is no word of praise to be found for the man who created the opportunity for the opportunities.

It’s hard to exaggerate the far-reaching effect of Title IX on American society.”

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Criticized initially for its pleading tone, the 1995 Wieden & Kennedy “If You Let Me Play” campaign was ultimately an empowering statement that allowed Nike to turn a secondary market into a primary one.

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The Carpenters perform for President Nixon at the White House, May of 1973, fifteen months before he resigned.

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It’s amazing how little effect a disgraced Richard Nixon’s resignation had on the future of the GOP. It cost the Republicans the White House in 1976, but his party has held the Oval Office more often than not since. And Nixon’s brand of conservatism, which at least had some room for environmentalism and Affirmative Action, has all but vanished from the Right. In 1967, before he was President, Nixon discussed the GOP’s future with William F. Buckley, Jr.

 

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President Richard Nixon in New York City, 1972, at the beginning of the war on drugs, encouraging the absurd Rockefeller Drug Laws, pledging public funds to be wasted on a futile cause. But while Nixon was there at the beginning, the prohibition of drugs has been a bipartisan folly ever since, one that allows campaigning politicians to tell citizens a lie they want to hear. The truth is professional poison. And that comes from someone who has no interest in drugs and doesn’t think anyone should use them.

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The promotional trailer for the videocassette release of the Frost-Nixon interviews. It apparently played  in movie theaters.

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Having a film version of The Rum Diary in theaters and a movie about J. Edgar Hoover ready to be released reminded of a 1974 Playboy Interview with Hunter S. Thompson that I read a couple of years ago. In the piece, which took Craig Vetter seven months to complete, Thompson cracked a joke about being pals with the former FBI honcho. An excerpt:

PLAYBOY: Would you run for the Senate the same way you ran for sheriff?

THOMPSON: Well, I might have to drop the mescaline issue, I don’t think there’d be any need for that—promising to eat mescaline on the Senate floor. I found out last time you can push people too far. The backlash is brutal.

PLAYBOY: What if the unthinkable happened and Hunter Thompson went to Washington as a Senator from Colorado? Do you think you could do any good?

THOMPSON: Not much, but you always do some good by setting an example—you know, just by proving it can be done.

PLAYBOY: Don’t you think there would be a strong reaction in Washington to some of the things you’ve written about the politicians there?

THOMPSON: Of course. They’d come after me like wolverines. I’d have no choice but to haul out my secret files—all that raw still Ed Hoover gave mejust before he died. We were good friends. I used to go to the track with him a lot.

PLAYBOY: You’re laughing again, but that raises a legitimate question: Are you trying to say you know things about Washington people that you haven’t written?

THOMPSON: Yeah, to some extent. When I went to Washington to write Fear and Loathing: On the Campaign Trail ’72, I went with the same attitude I take anywhere as a journalist: hammer and tongs—and God’s mercy on anybody who gets in the way. Nothing is off the record, that kind of thing. But I finally realized that some things have to be off the record. I don’t know where the line is, even now. But if you’re an indiscreet blabber-mouth and a fool, nobody is going to talk to you—not even your friends.”

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Thompson and Keith Richards consider the reincarnation of Hoover, 1973:

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Richard Nixon, during his “Wilderness Years,” just months after losing the gubernatorial race in California, political obituary already written, schmoozing with Jack Paar, 1963.

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This 1978 NBC News promo is a real time warp. It’s anchored by the late Jessica Savitch, who was, fleetingly, the golden girl of broadcast journalism, and died young and mysteriously five years after this clip. Following the news brief are an American Express commercial featuring the great tennis player Virginia Wade and a promo for Headliners with David Frost, that show’s star being one of the biggest names in America after going mano-a-mano with disgraced former President Richard Nixon.

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Andy Warhol explains why he would be a better President than Richard Nixon.

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In this classic January 13, 1971 photograph, President Richard Nixon and his wife Pat rest in their San Clemente home, the “Western White House,” as it had become known, on couches with the type of garish upholstery that was inexplicably popular at that time. The seaside home, formerly known as the H.H. Cotton House and La Casa Pacifica, hosted a slew of politicos during Nixon’s abbreviated two-term presidency, including Soviet premier Leonid Brezhnev. The house was the disgraced president’s oasis after he was forced to resign from office in 1974 during the Watergate scandal. The famous Frost/Nixon interviews were planned to be held at the San Clemente abode, but radio signals from the nearby Coast Guard station interfered with the TV equipment. From a 1983 New York Times article about Nixon’s lifestyle in San Clemente:

“San Clemente was in its prime in the early 1970’s when President Nixon’s Spanish-style residence here, Casa Pacifica, served as the ‘Western White House.’ Memories of the excitement of Government helicopters whirring overhead are still fresh. Regardless of how they feel about Mr. Nixon, a lot of people here miss that.

”I find it pretty humorous that San Clemente looks at Richard Nixon as a claim to fame,’ said Harold Warman, a college instructor who said he believed ”any man who becomes President of the United States has made so many moral compromises he’s sold out long before he even got there.’

But even as one of Mr. Nixon’s few critics in San Clemente, Mr. Warman suggested that the status of being a President’s home away from home gave life here a certain style.

‘If he wanted a pizza, they’d circle Shakey’s Pizza with the Secret Service,’ he recalled. ‘One day when I was down there, they brought him in by helicopter and closed the pizza parlor off. That’s pretty impressive.'”

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Soundless footage of the Nixons receiving celebrity guests (John Wayne, Glenn Campbell, Frank Sinatra, etc.) at their San Clemente home in 1972:

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There have long been rumors that in 1973 Jackie Gleason accompanied President Richard Nixon to Homestead Airforce Base in Florida and was shown what were supposedly the pickled bodies of extraterrestrials who had reached Earth. Perhaps it was a payoff for Gleason supporting Nixon in 1968.

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Nixon and Gandhi, together in 1971, despised one another. He referred to her behind the scenes as an “old witch.”

 

I brought you an excerpt of Oriana Fallaci’s spellbinding 1972 session with Henry Kissinger from the journalist’s great out-of-print book, Interview with History. I’m returning for passage of Fallaci’s 1972 Q&A with Indira Gandhi, one of the most complex and thorniest political leaders of that era.

By the time Fallaci had published her book in 1976, she had renounced her admiration for Gandhi, who had been India’s tough-as-nails Prime Minister and a feminist icon. In 1975, Gandhi, rather than resign as Prime Minister after being convicted of election fraud, declared the Indian version of martial law, had her political opponents imprisoned and repealed many of the citizens’ freedoms. She had, in effect, become a dictator.

Fallaci wrote a new introduction to the four-year-old interview that expressed bitter disappointment in the fallen idol. (“I didn’t hide my regret and shame at having portrayed her in the past as a woman to love and respect.”) Here’s a portentous excerpt from the interview that was conducted in New Delhi:

Oriana Fallaci:

Mrs. Gandhi, I have so many questions to ask you, both personal and political. The personal ones, however, I’ll leave for later–once I’ve understood why many people are afraid of you and call you cold, indeed icy, hard…

Indira Gandhi:

They say that because I’m sincere. Even too sincere. And because I don’t waste time with flowery small talk, as people do in India, where the first half hour is spent in compliments: ‘How are you, how are your children, how are your grandchildren and so forth.’ I refuse to indulge in small talk. And compliments, if at all, I save for after the job is done. But in India people can’t stomach this attitude of mine, and when I say, ‘Hurry up, let’s get to the point,’ they feel hurt. And think I’m cold, indeed, icy, hard. Then there’s another reason, one that goes with my frankness: I don’t put on an act. I don’t know how to put on an act; I always show myself for what I am, in whatever mood I’m in. If I’m happy, I look happy; if I’m angry, I show it. Without worrying about how others may react. When one has had a life as difficult as mine, one doesn’t worry about how others will react.•

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