“It’s The New Nixon!”

The best line of the day came from Joe Scarborough on today’s Morning Joe.

“It’s The New Nixon!”

It was in reference to Hillary Clinton and her desire to reinvent herself.  As a Nixon history buff Joe’s comment tickled me.  There was a time when reporters were also asking themselves if a new Nixon was emerging.  There wasn’t of course, but it made for good copy.

The quick backstory took place in 1968, with the help of Madison Avenue and a young show-biz whiz named Roger Ailes–yes the same Ailes as that now directing FAUX NEWS–where Nixon was able to position himself as  “likable enough” to be president.   Nixon was elected twice and was very bright with international concerns, but many would agree he never became likable.

Now Clinton is looking for a new direction from which to be perceived by the voting public.  Problem is that her desire for more spontaneity and authenticity runs up against her quarter century in public life and a previous, epic run for president.  We know who she is.  She might have to end up doing what Richard Nixon needed to resort to—and that is just be yourself.


Era Of President Gerald Ford And Betty Ford Closes

Some folks are nice and just hard to replace.  President Ford and his wife Betty were two such individuals.

Given all that passes for politics these days it seems near impossible to make the statement that two powerful political names could be lumped under the column ‘nice’.  But that is exactly where Gerald and Betty land in my listings.

I have always liked Gerald Ford, from the moment he was sworn into office as President.  I watched that event unfold in our family living room on a day I still recall being sunny and warm.

My respect for President Ford only deepened over the years as I grew to learn more and better understand the pardon that was granted to Richard Nixon.  During Ford’s time in office I always felt, even as a teenager, that Ford was more akin to the people I knew and grew up with than most politicians.

In politics that matters.

Betty was a brave and often outspoken woman, and the fact she told others what was on her mind made an impression on me as a young person, and something I still warmly recall when thinking of her life.  This past week Betty died at the age of 93.

The final goodbyes were said today as a private burial took place that allowed Betty to rest alongside her husband who passed away in 2006.

As stories go, and there are many that we all can share about the lives of these two national treasures, the one I read again today sums up all the imagery we need to know as we close this chapter of our American story.

Following the 1976 Republican National Convention the President made a stop in Russell, Kansas, the hometown of his Vice-Presidential nominee, Senator Dole.   The small town turned out at the courthouse square and words of thanks and spirited words were given.  After all was done President Ford was in his limousine leaving town and reporters noted that his car turned down a side street.

President Ford had just allowed Dole’s mom, then age 73, to be dropped off at her house.  Many stories were told of the hidden key kept in the drainpipe which allowed her to get into the house, and how Ford entered for a minute before leaving town.

Talk about one of those perfect political moments!

Over the past days I have again been reading a book I have enjoyed many times over the decades.  Not many reads make it for more than one go-around in my life.  The reason Ron Nessen’s ” It Sure Looks Different From the Inside” gets such high praise is due to the principal characters in the book.

Nessen was the press secretary for President Ford, and has many wonderful and insightful moments to share.  In this time of total political bombast it all may seem too serene, but for those of us who recall the years after Nixon’s departure know all was not easy in politics…..far from it.  Yet there is a warmth and assurance that Ford conveyed to the nation that allowed all of us to get through the national storm.

Now all that remains from the Ford era are the words of the historians.

Sadly, with the news this past week, and the burial today, the era of Gerald and Betty Ford is over.



Was FOX News An Idea Created In President Nixon’s Administration?

As strange as it may be, all things Richard Nixon fascinate and entertain me.  I really do think that Nixon was a premier thinker, and one of the best foreign policy statesmen of his time.

Then there are stories like this.

Please note that there was concern even in the Nixon days over a news network, such as what FAUX News would become, concerning a “flap about news management.”  That ‘flap’ is something that is often the source of concern and amusement here at CP when dealing with FAUX News.  The network is a joke for anyone that is serious about news, policy, and a better understanding of anything.

Now comes evidence that the brainchild of FAUX News, while working in the Nixon Administration, had pondered how to manipulate and distort the news, package it for partisan purposes, and then present it so the average angry white male will watch.  ( I wonder if blonde bimbos were part of the plan way back in the RN days?)

“A Plan for Putting the GOP on TV News” (read it here) is an unsigned, undated memo calling for a partisan, pro-GOP news operation to be potentially paid for and run out of the White House. Aimed at sidelining the “censorship” of the liberal mainstream media and delivering prepackaged pro-Nixon news to local television stations, it reads today like a detailed precis for a Fox News prototype. From context provided by other memos, it’s apparent that the plan was hatched during the summer of 1970. And though it’s not clear who wrote it, the copy provided by the Nixon Library literally has Ailes’ handwriting all over it—it appears he was routed the memo by Haldeman and wrote back his enthusiastic endorsement, refinements, and a request to run the project in the margins.

The 15-page plan begins with an acknowledgment that television had emerged as the most powerful news source in large part because “people are lazy” and want their thinking done for them:

Today television news is watched more often than people read newspapers, than people listen to the radio, than people read or gather any other form of communication. The reason: People are lazy. With television you just sit—watch—listen. The thinking is done for you.

With that in mind, the anonymous GOP official urged the creation of a network “to provide pro-Administration, videotape, hard news actualities to the major cities of the United States.” Aware that the national television networks were the enemy, the writer proposed going around them by sending packaged, edited news stories and interviews with politicians directly to local television stations.

This is a plan that places news of importance to localities (Senators and representatives are newsmakers of importance to their localities) on local television news programs while it is still news. It avoids the censorship, the priorities, and the prejudices of network news selectors and disseminators.

This was before satellite, so the idea was that this GOP news outlet would record an interview with a Republican lawmaker in the morning, rush the tape to National Airport via truck, where it is edited into a package en route, and flown to the lawmaker’s district in time to make the local news. Local stations, the writer surmised, would be happy to take the free programming. The plan is spectacularly detailed—it was no idle pipe dream. The writer estimated that it would cost $310,000 to launch and slightly less than that to run each year, sketched out a 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. schedule with shooting times, editing times, flight times, and arrival times, and estimated that the editing truck—”Ford, GMC, or IHS chassis; V8 engine; 5 speed transmission; air conditioning; Weight: 22,000GVW”—could be “build from chassis in 60 days.” In other words, they were serious.

According to Ailes’ copious margin notes, he thought it was an “excellent idea” that didn’t go far enough and might encounter some “flap about news management.”

Henry Kissinger Working To Create Deeper Understanding With “On China”

One of those unexpected long-form reads in the morning newspaper was perfect for a cloudy and rather dreary looking day in Madison.  Henry Kissinger will release a new book Tuesday that will examine more fully the  strategic mindset of  China.   “On China” authored by the former international diplomat, and intellectual heavy-weight places Kissinger front and center in the ongoing attempt to better understand the word’s most populous nation.

The opening to China undertaken in the early 1970’s remains in my mind the way government can work, and should work to move what some see as insurmountable obstacles.  The manner in which the Nixon White House operated to keep the mission secret so to increase the chance of success was proper.    Though Watergate gets the top paragraph in most Nixon news accounts, it is the China trip that remains the most important legacy of RN.

For China’s classical sages, the world could never be conquered; wise rulers could hope only to harmonize with its trends. There was no New World to populate, no redemption awaiting mankind on distant shores. The promised land was China, and the Chinese were already there.

Transparency is an essential objective, but historic opportunities for building a more peaceful international order have imperatives as well.


Mao’s residence was approached through a wide gate on the east–west axis carved from where the ancient city walls stood before the Communist revolution. Inside the Imperial City, the road hugged a lake, on the other side of which stood a series of residences for high officials. All had been built in the days of Sino-Soviet friendship and reflected the heavy Stalinist style of the period. Mao’s residence appeared no different, though it stood slightly apart from the others. There were no visible guards or other appurtenances of power. A small anteroom was almost completely dominated by a Ping-Pong table.

It did not matter because we were taken directly to Mao’s study, a room of modest size with bookshelves lining three walls filled with manuscripts in a state of considerable disarray. Books covered the tables and were piled up on the floor. A simple wooden bed stood in a corner. The all-powerful ruler of the world’s most populous nation wished to be perceived as a philosopher-king who had no need to buttress his authority with traditional symbols of majesty.

Mao rose from an armchair in the middle of a semicircle of armchairs with an attendant close by to steady him if necessary. We learned later that he had suffered a debilitating series of heart and lung ailments in the weeks before and that he had difficulty moving. Overcoming his handicaps, Mao exuded an extraordinary willpower and determination. He took Nixon’s hands in both of his and showered his most benevolent smile on him. The picture appeared in all the Chinese newspapers.

President Eisenhower, No Warm And Fuzzy Grandpa

Have you ever finished a book and concluded that the text was well researched and presented, the story lively and engaging, and yet at the end you still had not warmed to the main subject?

That is how I felt at the end of “Going Home To Glory: A Memoir of Life with Dwight D. Eisenhower 1961-1969”, by David Eisenhower.

Yet the book is one I would highly recommend

This book is a polished look at the end years of an ex-American President, and as such it is quite remarkable.  There are nuggets of political insight into the power plays of the aging general, and funny moments when it was noted Dwight sat a certain distance from the TV to avoid radiation.  (I trust that was for humor.)

The book is a pleasant and informative read, and grandson David along with his wife Julie Nixon Eisenhower, are to be applauded for what turned out to be a keeper for the bookshelves.  They hopefully will write more books in the same style.

Therefore my problem is not with the book, but instead with Dwight Eisenhower as presented in the book.  

Going into the book I thought a more  warm and fuzzy grandpa image would emerge at some point, but none ever appeared.  While I did not expect Grandpa Walton to leap from the pages I did think that there would be more depth of emotion and feeling conveyed in the pages from Eisenhower.

I recall books about Abraham Lincoln who mention the tall politician taking off his waistcoat and lying down in the living room to play with his children.  There was never any moment that even remotely came close to that image within the pages of “Going Home To Glory”.

I am sure Eisenhower would have been fun to talk with, and a gentlemen all the way.  He came from a generation where manners counted, and his poise and charm was very evident in public.  That was one reason he was so electable.

But throughout the book I got the strong impression he lacked any ability for real introspection about his life.  He seemed rough at times in his personal dealings with his son, and made me feel that perhaps he viewed him as an employee more than a family member.  At times I got the same impression in how Dwight handled grandson, David, who worked painting fences and such on the Eisenhower farm.

Part of that is due, no doubt, to the military mindset that shaped almost all of Eisenhower’s life.  While the military provided a lifetime of learning and obvious career enhancements, Eisenhower never seemed to have mastered the quieter side of life where reflection and calm also shapes who people become.

It is much harder in the book to get a true handle of Mamie Eisenhower who seems content to watch soap operas in bed and play what seems to be an unending game of solitaire.  I wanted to know more about her, and wonder perhaps if after years of being neglected by the general she finally just gave up on having a normal relationship with her husband.  They had social friends and traveled but there never seems to be a loving relationship that lifts the sails of the heart between these two.

That seemed very sad.

I have long felt, as many do, that Eisenhower did not treat Richard Nixon respectfully during the fund crisis, and also when others inside Ike’s political team had hoped to replace Nixon on the ticket in 1956.  Eisenhower failed to give an early full-throated endorsement of Nixon in 1960. 

That same tepid ‘half on-half off’ attitude is displayed in “Going Home To Glory” when trying to find a replacement candidate to Barry Goldwater for the 1964 presidential nomination.

By the time the Goldwater forces had defeated the moderates, and the 1964 political season was over, Pennsylvania Governor Bill Scranton knew exactly how Richard Nixon had once felt. 

There is no real insight given as to why Eisenhower acted as he did when opening a door a crack for political assistance and then closing it.    Leaving Scranton holding the cards and not being able to play any of them on a Sunday morning news show made me feel some anger at Eisenhower.  (I will let interested readers get more details if they decide to read this book.)

I very much enjoy the background type books about presidents after they leave office.  But as I closed this book I recalled a truism.

History dictates how the story is told.

Former Wisconsin AG: Gov. Walker’s “Violations” Are Many

More damning news for Governor Scott Walker who is acting more like Richard Nixon than Ronald Reagan.

When Gov. Scott Walker discussed strategies to lay off state employees for political purposes, to coordinate supposedly “independent” political expenditures to aid legislators who support his budget repair bill, and to place agent provocateurs on the streets of Madison in order to disrupt peaceful demonstrations, he engaged in what a former attorney general of Wisconsin says could turn out to be serious ethics, election law and labor violations.

Much of the attention to the “prank” call that the governor took from a blogger who identified himself as billionaire David Koch has focused on the bizarre, at times comic, character of the discussion between a blogger posing as a powerful political player on the right and a governor whose budget repair bill has sparked mass demonstrations in Wisconsin communities and a national outcry. But the state’s former chief law-enforcement officer described the governor’s statements as “deeply troubling” and suggested that they would require inquiry and investigation by watchdog agencies.

“There clearly are potential ethics violations, and there are potential election law violations and there are a lot of what look to me like labor law violations,” said Peg Lautenschlager, a Democrat who served as Wisconsin’s attorney general after serving for many years as a U.S. attorney. “I think that the ethics violations are something the (state) Government Accountability Board should look into because they are considerable. He is on tape talking with someone who he thinks is the funder of an independent political action committee to purchase advertising to benefit Republican legislators who are nervous about taking votes on legislation he sees as critical to his political success.”

Governor Walker And Shades Of Richard Nixon


I laughed when I first heard the tape of Governor Walker being ‘punked’ in a phone call.  The flood of words and thoughts that flowed from Walker is amazing…and troubling

When Walker admitted to thinking of planting troublemakers among the peaceful protestors at the State Capitol I thought of the antics undertaken when President Nixon was in the White House.  Make a mess, create confusion, and blame others.

Walker, believing he was getting a telephone call from billionaire campaign contributor David Koch, discussed the possibility of “planting some troublemakers” among people protesting his budget repair bill and the end of collective bargaining.   

The phone call of course was with a New York-based blogger who recorded the call…gotta love bloggers!

On the tape Governor Walker said “we thought about that” when the topic of placing troublemakers in the Capitol crowd to create chaos was being discussed.  That the very idea ever hatched itself in Walker’s head, or was considered by others around the Governor is appalling.  It is very important that the ‘we’ involved in this matter be ferreted out.  

That the crowds in and around the Capitol these past nine days have been very peaceful is without question.  Not one single arrest was made last Saturday when 68,000 demonstrated on the Square.  NOT ONE! 

As I thought more about the phone call and Walker’s remark I reflected about how Richard Nixon and those around him acted when in power.

Recall the Brookings Institution and the idea it should be bombed?  The Nixon tapes made it clear what the goal was.  Create a problem and blame it on others.

Nixon: “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.”


Chuck Colson thought a great idea would be to firebomb the institution and steal files while firefighters……public employees with collective bargaining….would dash the flames.

I think we need to know who the “we’ happen to be that work for Governor Walker that would hatch an idea about placing “troublemakers” into a protest crowd at the Capitol. 

Were they trying to test the patience of all involved, including law enforcement?  Who brought the idea to Walker?  Why was that person not released from state service at once?    Where did this idea get discussed?  In the Governor’s office?  The residence?

This is serious as it could have led to chaos and even bloodshed had it been put into action.


There was some levity at one point on the tape.

As the tape wandered along I was smirking when Walker confessed that he reads The New York Times, as he commented on a front page story the paper did about Wisconsin.

Can you imagine Richard Nixon ever admitting that on tape?

Which Congressman Has Richard Nixon’s Old Office, And How It Happened

I suspect this is the only liberal blog with this hunk of trivia.  I ran across this news story about Richard Nixon’s old congressional office and had to post it on CP.

Richard Nixon won his first congressional race in 1946.  The following January he was sworn into office and took up quarters in what is now the Cannon Office Building.  (I am not sure what the building was called in 1947.)

As of Wednesday when the new Congress is sworn into  office Lou Barletta, 54, of Hazleton, Pennsylvania will hold the office, located at 510 Cannon Office Building, 283 1st St. SE.

If those walls could talk consider the stories they could tell of Hiss and Chambers……

Pat Nixon also worked in RN’s office for a time.

But how did Lou Barletta get to occupy the office?

Lou Barletta reached into a hat and pulled out No. 67.

That meant Barletta, the Republican congressman-elect from the 11th District, would have to wait for 66 of his 85 Republican freshmen colleagues to choose their offices. There are also nine new Democrats in the freshman class.

As it turned out, Barletta got the office he wanted all along.

Barletta’s new office has history – it was the first office of freshman congressman and former U.S. President Richard M. Nixon in 1947. Others to have occupied the same space are Tom Daschle of South Dakota, Norman Mineta of California and Brett Guthrie of Kentucky.

“I ended up getting the one I wanted,” Barletta said of his new digs that includes a balcony and a view of the Capitol Building. “And it’s one block from where my apartment will be.”

Barletta said most of the suites available to freshmen were of roughly 800 to 1,000 square feet. They have a reception area, the lawmaker’s office and a separate space for about six staff members.

“It has character,” Barletta said.

Barletta said he now has to pick out carpeting, drapes, furniture, paint colors, his computer website, parking and stationary.