It was 40 years ago today that Richard Nixon climbed into a government-supplied helicopter that was about to carry him into private life. He raised both hands in the famous V-sign, which supposedly symbolized victory, but which marked the most important single personal defeat in the history of the American presidency.
I voted for Nixon in 1968. I had a very good reason for doing this: revenge. If national politics is not based on revenge, then it’s based on nonsense. If you base your commitment to national politics on hope, then you are terminally naïve. But revenge is a perfectly good reason to vote for somebody, if you’re trying to get even with a politician’s enemies.
In 1962, ABC Television ran a program: “The Political Obituary of Richard Nixon.” Wikipedia’s article on Howard K. Smith is accurate.
After the 1962 mid-term elections, Smith presented a documentary entitled, “The Political Obituary of Richard Nixon” as part of his Howard K. Smith: News and Comment (1962–1963) television series. Smith referred to Nixon’s “last press conference” after his disastrous losing campaign against Democrat Edmund G. “Pat” Brown, Sr., for governor of California. In that exchange, the former vice president famously told reporters that they would not “have Nixon to kick around any more.” Smith included in the broadcast an interview with Nixon’s longstanding nemesis Alger Hiss, a convicted Cold War perjurer.
I decided when I saw Hiss brought in as a character witness against Richard Nixon, that if I ever had an opportunity to vote for Nixon, I would. My motive was simple: to get even with Howard K. Smith. I also vowed that I would never do it again, and I never did.
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