Last week I wrote about the death of one political vision. This week we’ll see another one die, in an entirely different fashion.
(So much for my theory that the fireworks/explosion graphic on my birthday entry represents excitement and energy. Richard Freaking Nixon got one of those graphics too, so how special can they be? Not only that, but the line work on the Nixon Resigns entry is more detailed than the one on my birthday. That takes the wind out of a guy’s sails, all right.)
Video of Nixon’s full resignation speech, which I imagine my grandfather watched, is available on YouTube.
More interestingly, so is behind-the-scenes footage of the five minutes leading up to the speech. Watching this was the first time I’d ever seen footage of Richard Nixon laughing or smiling. He seemed genuinely appealing when he did so, as compared to the Ed-Sullivan-as-funeral-director vibe he tended to put out during his formal speeches.
I’ve written before that my grandfather supported Richard Nixon in 1968, and I expect he did in 1972 as well. Really, only about a dozen people outside Massachusetts voted for George McGovern in ’72; I see no reason why my grandpa would have been one of them.
Nixon’s departure elicited a variety of responses from America’s political onlookers. Garry Trudeau of “Doonesbury” had illustrated the Watergate scandal by drawing a brick wall around the White House. After Nixon’s resignation, he devoted a strip to workers tearing down the wall, showing the Presidential base of power once again sunny and unobstructed.
Hunter S. Thompson, meanwhile, wrote of spending the morning of Aug. 9 swimming laps in a D.C. hotel pool with a six-pack of Bass Ale and a portable TV set up at poolside, with nagging feelings that the circus was leaving town and national politics would never again be quite as interesting.
I wonder if he felt betrayed or hoodwinked or played for a fool, having thrown his support so decisively behind a man who turned out to be unworthy of the office.
Maybe he was just tired of the whole situation, and glad — as many Americans were, I think — to come to the end.
Or maybe he was just glad to have a relined set of brakes. The affairs of state come and go, after all, but stop signs are eternal.
I like the little American flag my grandpa drew on Aug. 9 to herald the arrival of Gerald Ford to the Oval Office. It suggests a certain level of patriotic attachment.
My country, right or wrong, it says. The last president might have made a titanic mess of things, and the new one was not elected by anybody. This whole thing is messy and totally unprecedented. But this is still the greatest country in the world, and the arrival of a new president still calls for some ceremony.
His drawing is uncharacteristically sloppy, though. There is a hole in his flag — as perhaps there was in his country, as well. And the flag’s being rained on, to boot.
(Sure, that’s a function of the limited space available for each day’s events. It’s still kind of symbolic.)