Correcting the Record
There has recently been an uptick in Nixon commentary online and in the print press. Not surprisingly, some of it is factually inaccurate. Reviewing the Perlstein biography, Newsweek’s Evan Thomas writes:
The establishment press had been flummoxed by it all. In 1966, the pundits were sure that the Republican Party would pick a reasonable, moderate candidate, someone with a little Kennedyesque charisma like Gov. Nelson Rockefeller of New York, or maybe New York City’s attractive young mayor, John Lindsay. None of the pundits imagined that Richard Nixon, the sweaty, shifty-eyed loser to JFK in 1960, could take the GOP nomination.
Nope, not even close. A persual of the New York Times in 1966 shows just the opposite. On June 12, James Reston wrote that the GOP nomination race had already narrowed down to Nixon and Michigan Governor George Romney. On September 4, Arthur Krock said that Nixon was “the Republican, on whom, by common party acceptance, has devolved the role of field commander.” And on September 16, a Times news story summed it up: “Most Republican professionals willing to stand up and be counted this early in the game think that former Vice President Richard M. Nixon will be their Presidential nominee in 1968.”
Meanwhile, The Huffington Post has reviewed a play about Nixon’s opponent in the 1950 California Senate race, Helen Gahagan Douglas. “When urged to respond to Nixon’s misrepresentation of her beliefs and values she stated, `I will not get in the mud with him.'” Actually, she got plenty muddy. Among other things, she accused him of “nice, unadulterated fascism.” Evoking the image of Mussolini’s Blackshirts, she referred to the “backwash of Republican young men in dark shirts.”
No doubt more inaccuracies are on the way.