Where are the Nixon’s Nixons of olde?

I picture Richard Nixon sitting around alone, watching through the three network news programs — special focus on the hated CBS News, Washington Post and New York Times at hand — the Enemies.  He watches Spiro Agnew work in his role as hatchet-man, pleased when he says “nattering nabobs of negativity”.  Why, Nixon himself had told Buchanan and Safire when they passed their proposed slogan to them that “neener weiners of negativity” needed some tweaking!

The smile turns to a frown when Nixon reads through a New York Times editorial that labels Spiro Agnew “Nixon’s Nixon”.  His face turns red, steam runs out of his ear.

“Nobody.  Is.  Nixon’s.  Nixon.  There is only One Nixon, and I am Nixon.  Goddamnedit!”

Pausing to reflect, Nixon makes a mental note.  “I must destroy this ‘Nixon’s Nixon‘.”  Nixon then clears out the path to Agnew’s fall from grace, such that he was at a stage of grace, and so it was.

I suspect there are predecessors for Eisenhower’s use of Nixon — but within the framework of the president — vice-president relationship I just wouldn’t know what it would be.  Perhaps Nixon really was the first Nixon — the first vice-president to be granted enough responsibilities — Henry Wallce was said at the time to be a bell-weather of vice presidential power in the same way Walter Mondale is now –  and walk back from him and you see John Garner actually worked against his president, Franklin Roosevelt, helping the anti- court packers.

Agnew was a little more crude than Nixon — difficult to ever picture him being sent out to the kitchen-table debate with a Kruschev — and Nixon not exactly ever coming out as the statesman that Ike seemed to be.  Maybe I’m viewing these the individuals through a false lense, but the path from Eisenhower — Nixon to Nixon — Agnew is a steep slide downward.  Try to imagine Agnew in the presidency and figure out who “Nixon’s Nixon’s Nixon” might be.  Ann Coulter?

This week, we’ve witnessed a further degeneration of this dichotomy.  Witness the attacks coming from Dick Cheney on the Democrats, against the backdrop of a sometimes congenial respectful statement of “disagreements”.  Bush pulls off the “statesman” not at all — and doesn’t appear to be even trying — Cheney lacks the wink and a nod found in Agnew.
Beyond which, haven’t we already established that Cheney is the man in charge here — literally hiding in the bushes, as that soon to be iconic photograph and video shows?  The effect is a lesson of lack of style.  We need a new Nixon.  And to compliment Nixon, we need a new Nixon.

Leave a Reply