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1970: Nixon's pre-dawn visit to anti-war protesters at Lincoln Memorial

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enough Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Aug-09-05 12:04 PM
Original message
1970: Nixon's pre-dawn visit to anti-war protesters at Lincoln Memorial
Thinking about George Bush cowering in Crawford, I was reminded of that strange moment in the Nixon presidency when Nixon left the white house in the dark to go hang out with anti-war protesters at the Lincoln Memorial.

As weird and pointless as this gesture was, you could never imagine Bush doing this. For one thing, Nixon ran himself, Bush is run by others.


I'm sure other DUers can tell this tale, but here is how it was written up in Time Magazine. This is actually a very interesting article, showing the fever pitch of protest and desperation the country had reached at the time.

http://cgi.cnn.com/ALLPOLITICS/1996/analysis/back.time/... /

(TIME, May 18, 1970) -- With an almost manic abruptness, the nation seemed, as Yeats once wrote, "all changed, changed utterly." With the killing of four Kent State University students by Ohio National Guardsmen last week, dissent against the U.S. venture into Cambodia suddenly coalesced into a nationwide student strike. Across the country 441 colleges and universities were affected, many of them shut down entirely. Antiwar fever, which President Richard Nixon had skillfully reduced to a tolerable level last fall, surged upward again to a point unequaled since Lyndon Johnson was driven from the White House. The military advantage to be gained in Cambodia seemed more and more dubious, and Nixon found that he had probably sacrificed what he himself once claimed was crucial to achieving an acceptable settlement: wide domestic support, or at least acquiescence, for his policies. Now it is the opposition that has gained strength.

long snip>

Nixon was trying his best to reconstruct consensus, to show that if he was not embittered by the protest movement, neither was he cowed. He also attempted to display flexibility. He was not about to muzzle anyone, he said, but he counseled his subordinates that "when the action is hot, keep the rhetoric cool." He defended the Cambodia decision anew, but he also added that the troops would be coming out faster than anticipated. While not withdrawing from his tactical rationale for the Cambodian venture, Nixon gave an impression that was very different from the belligerent patriotism with which he announced the foray.

Singular Odyssey. Before dawn the next morning, Nixon impulsively wakened his valet and set off with a clutch of Secret Service men for the Lincoln Memorial, where he talked for an hour with a group of drowsy but astonished demonstrators. His discussion rambled over the sights of the world that he had seen -- Mexico City, the Moscow ballet, the cities of India. When the conversation turned to the war, Nixon told the students: "I know you think we are a bunch of so and so's." He said to them, the President recalled Chamberlain was the greatest man living and that Winston Churchill was a madman. It was not until years later that I realized that Churchill was right." He confessed afterwards: "I doubt if that got over."

Before he left, Nixon said: "I know you want to get the war over. Sure you came here to demonstrate and shout your slogans on the ellipse. That's all right. Just keep it peaceful. Have a good time in Washington, and don't go away bitter."

much more>
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Richardo Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Aug-09-05 12:06 PM
Response to Original message
1. You have a good memory, enough. Thanks for the post.
Edited on Tue Aug-09-05 12:07 PM by Richardo
That craven coward in Crawford has never, and will never, do anything like this.
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tk2kewl Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Aug-09-05 12:09 PM
Response to Reply #1
3. Nixon was at least half-statesman-half-crook...
georgie is just all-stupid-evil-bastard.
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formerrepuke Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Aug-09-05 12:08 PM
Response to Original message
2. That moment was re-created in Oliver Stone's "Nixon"....nt
Edited on Tue Aug-09-05 12:09 PM by formerrepuke
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Minstrel Boy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Aug-09-05 12:18 PM
Response to Reply #2
8. That was a nice moment
and an underrated film.
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steve2470 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Aug-09-05 12:09 PM
Response to Original message
4. Wow, now I actually respect Nixon
The Chimperor would never do this, he's too friggin arrogant and narcissistic.
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markus Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Aug-09-05 12:16 PM
Response to Reply #4
5. Bad Penguin! (n/t)
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On the Road Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Aug-09-05 12:17 PM
Response to Original message
6. I Read Nixon's Own Account of This
in a book of great letters of the 20th century and was absolutely thunderstruck. It really changed my opinion of him.
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ronnykmarshall Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Aug-09-05 12:24 PM
Response to Reply #6
9. Very impressive ..
Nixon was indeed a statesman. There is a part of me that has respect for President Nixon. I think he was a troubled man. But I don't think he was a hateful prick like Bush.
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bballny Donating Member (456 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Aug-09-05 12:18 PM
Response to Original message
7. For what it's worth
Nixon had nerve. He also was very smart. A selfmade man who made himself smart by reading and knowing as much as possible. Compare that with the man who made himself dumb. I was at the rally on Nov 15, 1969. It was wild and those were truly wild times.
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H2O Man Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Aug-09-05 12:53 PM
Response to Original message
10. I think he took
an guy who worked for him, not an aide per say, but maybe his driver with him. Nixon was one of the strangest fellows ever to be president. Kissinger once said, "Can you imagine how great a man he could have been if someone had loved him." It was in reference to his parents, of course, and this was the smartest thing Kissinger ever said.

Nixon hated the war in Vietnam, but he tried to get out of it by doing more of the same. It bothered him that he was hated by young people. His going out to talk to the young protesters was telling. It was more direct than LBJ's growing his hair (relatively) long after leaving the White House.

I read a fascinating essay a while back, that described Nixon as the "existential president." At first, I expected it to be a bad joke. It was actually an uncanny description of a troubled life. While I think he probably should have faced incarceration, because he was a common crook and a pathological liar, I have one million times more respect for him than Bush2.
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LibDemAlways Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Aug-09-05 12:59 PM
Response to Original message
11. Chimp is scared shitless of meeting real people
Edited on Tue Aug-09-05 01:00 PM by LibDemAlways
in unscripted situations. He couldn't hold his own speaking with the average 10 year old. He'd be verbally decimated by well-informed anti-war protestors who know a hell of a lot more than he does.

At least Nixon had a brain.
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