Now, if you have been following this blog at all, you already know that I freakin' live for all things Nixon. Not because I think he was a good president, that's not it at all. Richard Nixon was one of the worst, most fantastically corrupt assholes ever to call that desk in the Oval Office his.
No, the reason I love Richard Nixon is no one, I mean fucking no one, does crazy like he did. Of course, his corrupt crown jewel was that list, The Nixon's Enemy List, he scribbled down on a piece of paper and then carried around in his coat pocket just in case he forgot for a second just who he wanted to "use the available federal machinery to screw." Now I'm sure you are thinking he at least put folks on the list like McGovern who ran against him in 1972. Well, you would be wrong. Let me tell you who did make the list, the late, great Paul Newman. On many occasions, Paul would say that, of all the blockbusters and success in his dressing business, he considers making the original Enemy List as the biggest success and his proudest moment of his life. He said it made him feel like he was doing something right.
I know you are probably dying of suspense. Come on with it, Shonda, whip out the new Nixon batshit crazy gems the National Archives gave us today. Oh, and by the way, in the off chance that you have gotten me a Christmas present, take it back. There is absolutely no way your gift will warm my quirky little heart like this shit did. Okay here goes:
-- On July 1, 1971, Nixon instructs Chief of Staff H.R. Haldeman to have someone break into the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C.:
"I can't have a high-minded lawyer ... I want a son-of-a-bitch. I want someone just as tough as I am. ... We're up against an enemy, a conspiracy that will use any means. We are going to use any means... . Get it done. I want it done. I want the Brookings Institution cleaned out and have it cleaned out in a way that has somebody else take the blame.
-- On April 4, 1972, Nixon discusses the press with Haldeman:
NIXON: “Return the calls to those poor dumb bastards ... who I know are our friends. Now do it ... We made the same mistake [Dwight] Eisenhower made, but not as bad as Eisenhower made, because he sucked the Times too much ... Goddamn it, don't talk to them for a while. Will you enforce that now?'
HALDEMAN: "I'll try."
Or this little pearl:
-- On May 18, 1972, Nixon talks to Henry Kissinger about the National Security Adviser's meeting with Ivy League college presidents regarding the war in Vietnam:
NIXON: "The Ivy League presidents? Why, I'll never let those sons-of-bitches in the White House again. Never, never, never. They're finished. The Ivy League schools are finished ... Henry, I would never have had them in. Don't do that again ... They came out against us when it was tough ... Don't ever go to an Ivy League school again, ever. Never, never, never."
And one more for the road:
-- On Nov. 14, 1972, Nixon talks with his aide Charles Colson about his landslide re-election victory over Democrat George McGovern:
NIXON: "What in the hell did you think of McGovern's statement on the election? Wasn't that the sour grapes crap again?”
COLSON: “Well, it's unbelievable, the arrogance of the guy ... God, what a bad man. Just awfully glad we got him buried and put away for good. I think he is.”
NIXON: “Oh, he's buried. He's buried."
Jesus, I am getting misty-eyed nostalgic, so much so that I looked up the obituary, if you will, that one of my favorite writers, the late, great Hunter S. Thompson, penned after Nixon finally went the way of all evil Bond villains when he died in 1994. Hunter always said not making Nixon's Enemy List was his life's biggest disappointment. And as you read this, I want you to remember that not long before he died, Hunter said that George W. Bush makes Nixon look fun.
As a farewell to his old adversary, Hunter wrote this:
Richard Nixon is gone now and I am poorer for it. He was the real thing--a political monster straight out of Grendel and a very dangerous enemy. He could shake your hand and stab you in the back at the same time. He lied to his friends and betrayed the trust of his family. Not even Gerald Ford, the unhappy ex-president who pardoned Nixon and kept him out of prison, was immune to the evil fallout. Ford, who believes strongly in Heaven and Hell, has told more than one of his celebrity golf partners that "I know I will go to hell, because I pardoned Richard Nixon."
I have had my own bloody relationship with Nixon for many years, but I am not worried about it landing me in hell with him. I have already been there with that bastard, and I am a better person for it. Nixon had the unique ability to make his enemies seem honorable, and we developed a keen sense of fraternity. Some of my best friends have hated Nixon all their lives. My mother hates Nixon, my son hates Nixon, I hate Nixon, and this hatred has brought us together.
Nixon laughed when I told him this. "Don't worry," he said. "I, too, am a family man, and we feel the same way about you."
It was Richard Nixon who got me into politics, and now that he's gone, I feel lonely. He was a giant in his way. As long as Nixon was politically alive--and he was, all the way to the end--we could always be sure of finding the enemy on the Low Road. There was no need to look anywhere else for the evil bastard. He had the fighting instincts of a badger trapped by hounds. The badger will roll over on its back and emit a smell of death, which confuses the dogs and lures them in for the traditional ripping and tearing action. But it is usually the badger who does the ripping and tearing. It is a beast that fights best on its back: rolling under the throat of the enemy and seizing it by the head with all four claws.
That was Nixon's style--and if you forgot, he would kill you as a lesson to the others. Badgers don't fight fair, bubba. That's why God made dachshunds.
And as I read this, I also realize that someday, some spectacular day, the National Archives will start leaking the Dubya tapes. Will they be as good as Nixon's? Will they be better? I guess only time will tell. In fact, I am going to use this, living long enough to hear the Bush II tapes, as my New Years motivation to take better care of myself. I know, I know, it should be living to see my boys all prosperous and successful. Don't get me wrong, that's a big perk. But, I must admit, I'll be pissed if I miss out on this, I will be pissed. Until then, on this fantastic day, I miss Richard and Hunter and all the devils and angels from a different era.
If you want to read more of Hunter's obit, read here.
PS-- I promise not to write about politics again for a long, long while.