In 1966 Mr. Richard Nixon, reminiscing with a visitor, confessed that he had come by a maxim rather late in life which seems to be obvious; namely, that a Republican cannot win with the support of the right wing only, but that neither can he win without the support of his right wing. In I960 Nixon needed a mere handful of extra votes, whether left or right, to win the election. It wasn’t that loss that hurt him professionally—it isn’t bad for anyone’s prestige to miss being President of the United States by one-tenth of 1 percent of the vote. What he is even now reeling from is the California election, and what he did there, in 1962, was to neglect the conservatives. They beat him. And he knows that.
And now he is up against the same problem, how at once to commend himself to conservatives and liberals alike. Mostly, of course, politicians accomplish that kind of thing by a melodious swivel-hipping—who, for instance, except the most practiced historian, can remember where General Eisenhower stood on matters in general that separated the right from the left? But every now and again there is no way out, as when, a week ago, Richard Nixon found himself all alone, in front of a microphone, the spotlight fixed remorselessly on him, at a testimonial dinner to, of all people, Jacob Javits, senior Senator from New York, the man about whom the late George Sokolsky once remarked that he has about as much business in the Republican Party as Leon Trotsky. Continue reading ‘The Agony of Mr. Nixon’ »