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Calm Between The Storms.

Not evil, not crazy.

The first election for which I was able to vote was 1972. I voted for Richard M. Nixon.

Something like 30 days later I was in front of the White House holding a "Honk for Impeachment" sign. In those days I lived in Washington, on New Hampshire Avenue just off Dupont Circle. (I had a ground-floor apartment next to the terminus of the 12-story-tall trash chute. Take a moment to imagine how much fun that was.) I worked as a flunky for a "major K-street law firm," a Democrat stronghold. One of my jobs was to deliver cash cough-gratuities-cough-cough to employees at the Government Publishing Office in order to ensure our preferential access to GPO documents.

Imagine if you will, children, a time before cable news, before the internet, when political junkies like me would leap from our beds and race to get our morning newspapers. The Washington Post, in this case. The Washington Post during Watergate.

The Washington Post during Watergate. Sort of like the Jerusalem Post during the Crucifixion. Well . . . you get my point. It was exciting.

That I was never a confirmed Nixon-hater is attested to by my vote. But I've never had much tolerance for people in positions of power who fail me. If you're a waiter, a hotel maid, a drive-thru guy at Wendy's and you screw up I'll never say a word. But don't tell me you need to be the most powerful man in the history of the human race -- and then expect my pity. You want the big blue jet and the big white house, the six figure salary and the lifetime pension? Then don't fuck me over.

Anyway. Before the election we knew something was wrong with this Watergate thing. But we also all knew Nixon was too smart to be involved in something as idiotic as a burglary at Larry O'Brien's office.

Side note: of the many mistakes I've made judging people, more have come from overestimating than from underestimating them.

The Watergate thing dragged out for what seemed like a very long time that nevertheless ended abruptly. All at once, there was Nixon waving goodbye.

Then, there was Gerald Ford of all people. And before we knew it he had pardoned Tricky Dick. And to tell you the truth, I was relieved.

In the decade before Watergate we'd had the assassinations of John Kennedy, Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King. Johnson had bailed. We'd had several rounds of race riots. We'd done the riot at the Chicago Democratic convention. And Kent State. And throughout it all, Vietnam.

I was 20 years old when Nixon resigned, a political junkie, a Democrat, young enough to enjoy conflict and craziness, and still when Ford pulled the plug on the prosecution of Richard Nixon, I was relieved. That's how bad things had gotten: even I wanted a break. I thought the country needed a couple of years off.

I still think Ford was right. He didn't amount to much as a president but you know what? We were really in the mood for not much.

In two years I wonder if we won't be just about ready for another Jerry Ford.

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“Calm Between The Storms.”

  1. Blogger cakreiz Says:

    The whole Nixon/Watergate discussion that Ford’s death has prompted seems so dated (hey, it was 30+ years ago). The Cold War paradigm was in full force; everything was viewed through that prism. Now that the 9/11 prism has replaced it, our mid 70s concerns seem passe. Like you, I was a Nixon agnostic, neither a lover or hater. I voted for Jimmy Carter in '76, one of several votes that I regret. It all seems like a lifetime ago. Things that seemed so important weren't. Who figured that we'd be in Afghanistan after the Soviets? Life's strange. Reminds me of an obscure movie line: "if you live long enough, you seem some strange shit".

  2. Blogger M. Takhallus. Says:

    It's what comes of being a hundred years old, eh Kreiz? We're remembering things that are history to more than half the population. Yeesh.

  3. Blogger cakreiz Says:

    Yep. It just ticks me off that some of my life's memories are being taught somewhere as ancient history- and properly so. Hey, I remember Ford's WIN buttons... and listening to Bob Dole excoriate Dems for causing every war in the 20th century.

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