Tuesday, June 23, 2009

More Nixon Tapes, Realism And Obama

(image via latimes)

Former President Nixon's obsession with taping conversations continues to haunt us from beyond the grave ("Yet more Nixon tapes made public," Tweets Time's James Poniewozik. "Dude was like President Tupac") Massive were his insecurities. There was a lot of fucking smack talk with President Nixon. It makes us glad that the 70s are over, and Presidents of the united States don't have to talk like alpha chimpanzees.

In a just released tape, Nixon threatens then-President Nguyen Van Thieu of South Vietnam with a halt of US aid if he did not sign a peace treaty that would allow a US withdrawal. A noble goal, to be sure, but the language he uses is quite revealing of Nixon the man and his insecurities, even as POTUS. From LATimes:

"'Is that going too far?' Nixon asked Kissinger on Jan. 20, 1973. 'In other words, I don’t know whether the threat goes too far or not, but I’d do any damn thing, that is, or to cut off his head if necessary.'"

Nice. And very fitting for a democracy, that foreign policy goal. In another tape Nixon is acutely aware of the rise of women in the aftermath of the Roe v Wade ruling and the future of the Republican party. Again Nixon's language is revealing. On Feb. 23, 1973, Nixon called then-then the Republican National Committee chairman George H.W. Bush to discuss the issue. From LATimes:

"The call was 'nothing of great importance,' Nixon said, but he wanted to inform Bush of what he witnessed during his recent visit to the South Carolina state Legislature.

"'I noticed a couple of very attractive women, both of them Republicans, in the Legislature,' Nixon tells Bush. 'I want you to be sure to emphasize to our people, God, let’s look for some ... . Understand, I don’t do it because I’m for women, but I’m doing it because I think maybe a woman might win someplace where a man might not ... . So have you got that in mind?'

"'I’ll certainly keep it in mind,' Bush replies.

"'Boy, they were good lookin’ and bright,' Nixon continues. And he had been informed, further, that 'they’re two of the best members of the House.'

"'Well, that’s terrific,' Bush says.?"

Jesus, what a dick. Every time this blogger wishes he came-of-Age in the 1970s in America, going to Studio 54, partying with Bianca and Liza and Andy we will think of this and thank the stars that that age of the dominion of those Old Boys is over.

Over and beyond the misogyny, there is the very real question of Realism. No President in recent memory has been as philosophically inclined towards European Realpolitik than Richard Milhouse Nixon. And in both quotes -- on Vietnam and on women in the future of the party -- we see Nixon's realism acutely at work. The subject is particularly newsworthy because President Obama is wrestling with realism on the subject of Iran. Though he ran under a banner of "Change," Barack Obama is finding himself -- in the context of the Conversation of Presidents -- having to adopt realism internationally in order to right the trajectory of the ship of State after, we cannot fail to note, the hyper-idealistic Wilsonianism of Bush, 43.

Question: Is the United States ready for another dose of Realpolitik?

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