Wild About Harry

Nixon on Truman, 1962

Even made with a smile, a physical threat by a future President of the United States against a past President just doesn’t happen every day. But I know it did once.

Richard Nixon was scheduled by the American Legion to speak at its Denver convention in early 1962. The Republican party of Colorado, of which I was then state chairman, had also asked him to speak at a GOP fundraiser. Eager to earn party credits, he readily agreed. Read more »

“I Reckon You’re One Of Them New York Doves”

What happened when an anti—Vietnam War activist met his new client—Lyndon Johnson

As an American President presides over a divisive war without an apparent end, for the second time in my life, my thoughts have been drawn back nearly four decades to another President, Lyndon Baines Johnson, and his war in Vietnam. In 1969 a strange twist of history—his and mine—made me, by then an antiwar activist, the publisher of a retired President whom I both respected and hated. Read more »

“Flying Coach To Cairo”

Jimmy Carter was at home in his study in Plains, Georgia, on October 6, 1981, when the call came in a little after daybreak. A reporter was on the line asking for his response to the attempted assassination of Anwar Sadat. The Egyptian president had been reviewing a military parade in Cairo when men in uniforms sprayed the crowd with bullets and hand grenades. Carter, shocked, asked for details. After being assured that Sadat had sustained only minor injuries, he gave the reporter a statement calling his friend Sadat a good and great man and condemning terrorism.Read more »

Boomer Century

What’s going to happen when the most prosperous, best-educated generation in history finally grows up? (And just how special are the baby boomers?)

Just a matter of weeks from now, on December 31, as millions of Americans don party hats and pop champagne corks to usher in the New Year, Kathleen Casey, the Philadelphia-born daughter of a Navy machinist and his wife, will likely find her phone once again ringing off the hook. It happens every decade or so.

 

Two boys stroll down a sidewalk—and into a future they and their generation will create.
 
©william gottlieb/corbis2005_5_coverimage
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The Postwar Years 1945 To 1974

In his kaleidoscopic novel U.S.A., a trilogy published between 1930 and 1936, John Dos Passos offered a descriptive line that has always stayed with me. America, he wrote, is “a public library full of… dog-eared history books with protests scrawled on the margins.” Historical writing at its best is composed not only of facts but of thoughts and directions. And in this fastpaced country, where currents are very much subject to abrupt change, it is often hard for a history book to take root.Read more »

1974: Twenty-five Years Ago

Dick’s Last Trick

Watergate dominated the news in April, as it had for more than a year. Each day seemed to bring new evidence of malfeasance by President Richard Nixon and his staff, and in a nation unaccustomed to having a criminal in the White House, the revelations were taken quite seriously. As the House Judiciary Committee took up the question of impeachment, Nixon knew his time to wriggle out of the mess was running short. In the football metaphors that he loved so much, the President was trailing by two touchdowns late in the fourth quarter. So, like any coach in such a predicament, he called for an onside kick.

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The Words Of Watergate

AN ANNIVERSARY LOOK BACK AT THE BIGGEST PRESIDENTIAL SCANDAL EVER, THROUGH THE CHANGES IT WROUGHT IN THE LANGUAGE

“I will repeat again today that no one presently employed at the White House had any involvement, awareness or association with the Watergate case.” Just twenty-five years ago this month, with national elections less than three weeks away, President Richard M. Nixon’s press secretary, Ronald L. Ziegler, sought with this declaration to clamp the lid on a burgeoning scandal. Read more »

Liberalism Overthrown

THIRTY YEARS AGO A HARD-FOUGHT gubernatorial campaign heralded the third great political upheaval of our century

IT WAS A FUNERAL TO REMEMBER. The rain had been pelting for hours when the mourners gathered in St. Cecilia’s Roman Catholic Church, in the Sunset district, but now the skies cleared as four National Guard helicopters clattered overhead in a “missing man” formation ” as scores of dignitaries—governors and representatives, senators and aides from Sacramento and Washington, Los Angeles and New York—stared gravely at the casket, draped in the red and white state flag. It was February 17, 1996, and Edmund G.Read more »

The Federal Debt

And how it grew, and grew, and grew…

The federal government was still in the process of establishing itself in 1792 and did not have a good year financially. Total income was only $3,670,000, or 88 cents per capita. Outlays were $5,080,000. The budget deficit therefore amounted to fully 38 percent of revenues. The next year, however, the government sharply reduced expenses while enjoying increased tax receipts and showed its first budget surplus.Read more »

The Wimp Factor

A year ago we were in the midst of a presidential campaign most memorable for charges by both sides that the opponent was not hard enough, tough enough, masculine enough. That he was, in fact, a sissy. Both sides also admitted this sort of rhetoric was deplorable. But it’s been going on since the beginning of the Republic.

Just before George Bush announced his running mate in 1988, a one-liner going the rounds was that he should choose Jeane Kirkpatrick to add some machismo to the ticket. Until midway through the campaign the embarrassing “fact” about Bush, as revealed in a spate of jokes, cartoons, and anecdotes gleefully reported or generated by the press, was the candidate’s “wimpiness.” A wimp, of course, is effete, ineffectual, somehow unmanly. Real men, the diametrical opposite of wimps, are war heroes and government leaders, especially combat pilots and spy masters. But wait!Read more »