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Friday, January 11, 2013

There is a Second Act in American Life: Richard Nixon Had at Least Three!

 
President Richard M. Nixon, undated, official White House picture
 

By Nicholas Stix

….And now began the greatest comeback in American political history.

When I arrived in New York to join the Boss in January 1966, his staff consisted of three people: I occupied one desk in the office outside his own. A second occupant was Rose Woods, and the third, a "Miss Ryan"—more exactly Patricia Ryan Nixon, the future first lady of the United States, from whom I used to bum cigarettes….

America was coming apart.

Richard Nixon was the first president since Zachary Taylor to take the oath with both houses of Congress against him. The bureaucracy was deep-dyed Democratic. The press corps was 90 percent hostile. The Warren Court was at the peak of its power. And the Best and Brightest who had led us into Vietnam were deserting to join their children in protests against what they suddenly discovered was "Nixon's War."

As the presidential limousine came up Pennsylvania Avenue after the inaugural, it was showered with debris. As Shelley and I were entering the White House reviewing stand for the inaugural parade, the Secret Service asked us to step off the planks onto the muddy lawn, as the president was right behind us. As he passed by me, he looked over, and in the first words I ever heard from Richard Nixon as president of the United States, words I shall always remember, the president said,
"Buchanan, was that you throwing the eggs?"

Yet consider what he accomplished….


[“Richard Nixon's 100th Birthday: Nixon Now More Than Ever!,” by Patrick J. Buchanan,VDARE,January 10, 2013.]
Scott Fitzgerald's famous lament, ''There are no second acts in American lives,' was wrong. Richard Nixon had a second, a third, and maybe even a fourth.

When Nixon died, I was teaching philosophy at William Paterson College, in Wayne, New Jersey. I stopped everything I was doing, and typed a long eulogy to the 37th president, which took two full classes to deliver.

During the first part, a tall ravishing, shapely blond of about 35 walked out. But when the semester ended, she shook my hand, and gave me her mailing address. (I never wrote her, but things worked out just fine, in the end.) I guarantee you, none of those kids heard anything like that from any of their other instructors.


 
First Lady Pat Nixon, date unknown
 

When I was 13, I completely identified with Nixon. It must have been because we had so much in common. After all, we were both Irish, southern Californian Quakers, who had served with distinction in the Navy during The War, right?

Nixon was tough and patriotic, and we were at war with the North Vietnamese Communists. My junior high school vice-principal, John Ryan, used to call me “Archie Bunker.”

Then, when I went off to college, my Mom (who turned 83 on New Year’s Day) bought me two paperbacks, as going-away presents: John Steinbeck’s Travels with Charlie, and Bob Bernstein and Carl Woodward’s All the President’s Men.

At the time, both books were considered non-fiction works. Now, things are lot less clear.

At any rate, I now began thinking of Nixon as a disgraced criminal. What a fickle friend I was.

My only defenses are that I was young and even more ignorant than is now the case, and that Nixon was himself a fickle friend to have.

The official story of the leftwing, Nixon-bashing media and academia, is that Nixon’s Southern Strategy was a racist scheme to get middle-American whites to vote for him. But you have to consider the source. The official story was formulated by people for whom any attempt to get the Middle American vote was incontrovertible proof that one was a drooling, gap-toothed racist. That story used to be generated and used by socialists and communists, but today would just as quickly be used by neocons.


 
Julie Eisenhower Nixon, 1973
 

Of course, the lefties (and neocons?) are the same people who will tell you that Nixon was a “right-winger,” or even a “fascist.” Nothing could be further from the truth. The man was a liberal Republican who used the Southern Strategy not only to get Middle Americans to vote for him, but to deceive them into thinking he was one of their own. Unfortunately, he wasn’t, and betrayed them, the first chance he got. Civil rights, busing, you name it.

My source? None other than Pat Buchanan.

About a year ago, my friend and colleague, David in TN, recommended I read the first book written by a young firebrand named Buchanan, Conservative Votes, Liberal Victories (1975). I just read it during the Sandy crisis, sometimes using a flashlight in my freezing library at the Stix Family redoubt, Xanadu.

I had repeatedly urged Buchanan to wrote a Nixon biography. (Don’t get me wrong: I’m not close to Pat Buchanan, but have been intermittently in contact with him over the years, and once had the pleasure of meeting him and his lovely wife, Shelly. He proved to be the most polite and unpretentious famous person I’ve ever met.) When I put that brilliant book aside, with its trenchant criticisms of the man the author had worked for for over eight years, I said to myself that he didn’t need to write a Nixon book, because he’d already said his piece. Buchanan’s new column shows just how foolish I was to think that.


 
Tricia Nixon & Edward F. Cox 1972 wedding picture
 

Besides being America’s greatest living political thinker, Pat Buchanan is the only top-drawer, living journalist to have worked closely with Nixon.

I’m just spitballing, but here are some title ideas: A Second Act, and a Third, to Boot: Richard Nixon and American Politics; Triumph, Tragedy, and Irony: Richard Nixon and American Politics; and The Boss: Richard Nixon, the Statesman and the Man, as I Knew Him.

I’m sure Buchanan can come up with a better title, but those were just proposals to get the ball rolling.

Now, Mr. Buchanan, write that Nixon book!

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Nicholas,

Months ago, I read that Buchanan's next book would be about his time as Nixon's aide. Buchanan said something like, "The Boss was a great man but he had some weird hangups."

By the way, did you ever get around to reading Richard Whalen's 1972 book "Catch The Falling Flag?" Whalen was one of the young "intellectual" writers Nixon hired for his 1968 campaign. Whalen quit after the GOP convention that year. His book foresaw what would happen to the Nixon Presidency.

David In TN

countenance said...

N.S.,

Why? We already know from PJB's latest column that he'll abandon all reason and logic to make excuses for the Rockefeller RINO/liberal Republican who once hired him.

CMC said...

Did Fitzgerald mean 'second chances'? Or something else?

Dutch Boy said...

Buchanan cannot give up loyalties to anyone or anything he once served (e.g., Nixon and the Republican party).

Robb Moffett said...

Pat Buchanan makes me so sad. sad, because when he is gone there will be no one like him to replace him, and sad because I was so ignorant and missed my chance to vote for him. i voted for perot. Twice!
The first person I ever voted for was mcGovern. No 18 year old guy was going to register as a republican in the 1970s. But now when people ask me my party affiliation I tell them I am a Pat Buchanan democrat. I don't agree with him 100% but no one can touch him on immigration, trade,foreign policy and no one speaks out for the historic american people in the way he does, fearless and armed with conviction born from knowledge and experience.
they are gonna miss Mr Buchanan.