Thursday, September 29, 2011

Richard Nixon: I think we all know too much already

If I had a mansion and an unlimited government budget, I'd build a bowling alley in my house too. So impeach me!

Richard Milhous Nixon was one of four sons born to a Quaker family in California in 1913. A sickly child, he was not a great athlete, but excelled as a debater in school, was a good student, and helped run his dad's grocery store. Though he earned a tuition scholarship to Harvard, Richard stayed close to home to help take care of his family because of sickness/death/obligation. He went to Whittier College, where he was originally snubbed by some literary douchebags and had some girflriend or something. He then earned a full scholarship to Duke University Law School. He competed with his classmates to successfully to keep his scholarship, became a school leader, and graduated third in his class. He was a try-hard to say the least.

The Richard tried to join the FBI, but eneded up being admitted to the bar and working in corporate and probate law in California. He did not want to do divorce cases, though, because single ladies who were sexually active apparently made him uncomfortable. Shock, shock. Richard M.  met his wife Pat Ryan in a local theater production. (Undubitably a less sexy situation than Who Am I This Time?) But after he wore her down, they finally got married in 1940 and later had two daughters, Tricia and Julie. They moved to D.C. and R.Nix joined the Navy in 1942 because that's what you did then. He wanted some action but ended up never seeing any combat in the South Pacific.

Then he was chosen by some smoke-filled room to represent the California 12th District in Congress, a seat he won on an anti-Communist campaign. In the House of Representatives, Nixard was on HUAC (also shock), and served a key role in the Alger Hiss case. Tricky Dick was reelected in 1948 and subsequently used more of his Communist scare tactics to win a Senate seat in 1950. He and the infamous McCarthy were totes buddies. Nixon criticized Truman's Korean War policies. Then, in a sudden promotion, Nixon was chosen as Eisenhower's running mate in 1952, and was totally willing to do all the campaign dirty work. At one point, though, he was driven to give his famous Checkers speech about the family dog in order to ward off allegations that he was accepting unauthorized campaign funds. Or something. So Dick and Ike were successful and won the executive branch that year.

Remember when dudes unironically called themselves "Dick"? Me neither.
mysterious white-ish film. BUT ANYWAY: RNix was all set to run for prez in his own right in 1960. But he had the tragic misfortune of running against one of America's most attractive presidential candidates (besides his brother who was hotter but got shot earlier in his career, if I may be so crass/complimentary). Then they debated on TV, and words no longer mattered, only the activity of one's sweat glands, and Nixon did not look cute with a 5:00 shadow and blahblahblah voter fraud and Kennedy won.

Losey McLoser Nixon moved his family back to California where he practiced law and unsuccessfully ran for governor in 1962. After Alger Hiss said some shit about him on TV, the public gained a little bit more sympathy for the DickNix, and he took the opportunity to move back East to NYC where he practiced law some more. He wouldn't run again for president in 1964, but instead supported other Losey McLoser Goldwater in '64 and Republican congressional candidates in '66. I don't know if you guys know this, but some shit happened in America during the '60s. (DUH. Didn't you watch that terrible Julia Stiles and Jerry O'Connell-starring miniseries from the '90s that Isaac used as an excuse to ask me over to his place to hang out during the one week we were only "hanging out" before we become an official couple on Facebook and everything?! Because from what I remember between disgustingly strong cups of Kamchatka and some sort of unimportant mixer is that it was terrible.) Anyway, there was some escalation in the 'Nam and RFK got killed and Johnson though it best not to run again, and basically it was the best time ever to try to be president again.

So Rilhous became the Republican nominee on the first ballot and chose little-remembered but totally resignatory VP Spiro T. Agnew as his running mate. Nix-O ran against former MACALESTER COLLEGE Poli Sci professor Hubert Humphrey and used phrases like "peace with honor" and "law and order" (totally not racist dog whistle terms about urban unrest) and something about a "secret plan" to end the war in Vietnam to win. Also, there was George Wallace who I read a biography about in a 20th century American history class a couple of years ago and he was crazy but later pretended not to be racist but seriously he was never actually going to win but was surprisingly successful but managed not to spoil this election anyway, and Nixon won. FINALLY.

As president, Ricardo Nixono went to China and made out with Mao (diplomatically), he bombed Cambodia and invaded Laos, which was totally a de-escalation of the war if he said it was. He totally overreacted to the 1971 publishing of the Pentagon Papers, interfered in Chile (sorry, Chile), signed the SALT I treaty, and let the draft end in 1973. He had some sort of doctrine in the Middle East, but sold people arms, reluctantly supported Israel, and helped bring about the first of many oil crises. He didn't object to the EPA/save the earth hippie shit brought before him, but he didn't so much like Ted Kennedy's "universal healthcare" ideas. While those one dudes were on the moon, they called President Nixon and had what was an assuredly awkward conversation. He totally did not benefit from that alleged "Southern strategy" which never existed, but he did claim his 1972 opponent George McGovern was totally for "amnesty, abortion, and acid." Though if that were true, I have to say he'd have gotten my hippie-ass vote. Unfortunately I was not to be born for over a decade.

ANYWAY: RMN got reelected HARD. But not so long after, there was this weird hotel scandal of some kind. Nixon ended up resigning over it, but luckily his handpicked successor Gerald Ford was able to pardon him for any crimes he totally unknowingly may have or have not committed. After a short but serious illness, Nixon participated in what would become political movie porn for Aaron Sorkin fans, the 1975 Frost/Nixon interviews. (Listen, if The Damn United or 30 Rock  wasn't enough to make you love Michael Sheen [not a brother of Charlie], this will. Who knew 1970s TV host smarm could be so attractive?) Anyway, he knew he'd been a sleaze. At least on some level.

Then Richard Nixon wrote a bunch of books and supported that totally obscure Reagan guy, attended the funeral of the notorious Shah of Iran, and eventually died of a stroke in 1994 in New Jersey. Richard Nixon has been played by many actors. Since I was in fourth grade when he died, two decades after he left office in disgrace, these fictional depictions are my strongest memories of him as a president. It is strange to me that though he was such an important person in recent U.S. history and our lifetimes overlapped, I don't remember anything about him outside of his historical or cultural legacy. But seriously, did I mention how fucking good Frost/Nixon was? Because I just saw that recently. He's almost a sympathetic character--who DRUNK DIALS. Not that I would ever do anything like that. Would I, friends?

No comments:

Post a Comment