The American Scene
Honest, boss, they's nobody here but us lynch-mob liberals
Larry Adler With a friend like Al Capp who needs enemies? But Richard (Am I My Brother's Bugger?) Nixon does seem to collect them. I joined the club in the mid-'forties when Nixon's congressional campaign against Jerry Voorhis was based on smearing Voorhis as a Communist fellow-traveller. (He wasn't.) I renewed membership when Nixon ran against Helen Gahagan Douglas by labelling her "a notorious Party-liner" (she wasn't) and repeatedly referring to her as "the pink lady." One of the hilarities of political history came when Nixon intimated, at the time of the TV debates with Kennedy, that the studio makeup men, for God's sake, were Communists. It is possible that Nixon's first major setback came in the famous kitchen debate with Khrushchev in Moscow. For the first time Nixon was up against a man whom he couldn't hurt by calling a Communist.
But Al Capp calls us "lynch-mob liberals." And Al Capp is an honourable man. Oy, gevalt! is he an honourable man!
To be fair, Capp didn't name me as a lynch-mob liberal, just-as I wasn't on that list of White House enemies, something I took amiss. As early as 1946 I thought Richard Milhous Nixon was a jerk and one thing I will say, success hasn't changed him.
Capp writes that Nixon, by rejecting Judge Sirica's decision, was "like any other citizen . . . simply exercising his right of appeal." Remember when Boss Hague of Jersey City said, "I am the law?" Nixon has gone Hague one better; Nixon says he may obey a decision of the Supreme Court if he considers their decision "definitive." That's precisely what you or I or any other citizen would do and if you believe that ...
Capp writes that an "Eastern newspaper" — he makes that seem rather insidious; Western newspaper good, Eastern newspaper bad — "jeered at Julie Nixon Eisenhower's defence of her father" but wrote sympathetically of Joseph Kennedy Jr's lunatic driving . . '
He doesn't quote either report, just his opinion of it. But I saw Mrs Eisenhower's
defence of her father. I was appalled that-sh,Ae was on TV in the first place. What would Nixon's daughter, or Mitchell's or McCord's or A. gnew's daughter, be expected to say? "BOY' is my daddy a schmuck!" I though/ it shabby of Nixon to let bis daughter be used, making her little more than an articulate Checkers. As for Joseph Kennedy, Jr. His driving caused serious injury and he came before the court. But the reason we all know about it was not what he did, but to whom he was related. Capp devotes a long paragraph to the moment, in the senate hearings into Water. gate, when Senator Inouye's voice could be heard saying, "What a liar!" (about Haldeman). Inouye's denial sounds specious and it was a dumb thing to have said, bu.„,t even so, this was a hearing, not a trial. How would Capp compare it, say, to Nixon's c,0tri. ments on Manson, Calley and Angela Davis three separate instances where the rights cu people on trial were prejudiced by the President of the United States? Capp cites the nomination of "a minor and dubious judge . . . named Morrisey" by the Kennedys for a Federal post. When It developed that the judge's qualifications weren't what they should have. been, "t.hke nomination was allowed to disappear wi,t" dignity." With dignity — those are tne operative words. Nixon can't allow anything or anybody, including himself, to disapPear with dignity. When Nixon nominated his two, disasters to the Supreme Court he knew well in advance, because he was warned by lavj societies, that. the nominations would.be strongly opposed. He insisted on being repudiated as publicly as possible, as he sisted on making the famous sore-loser speecn after his defeat by Governor Brown (whom I:1,e accused of being "soft on communism ) Kennedy watched it on TV. "He goes out the way he came in," said Kennedy, "no class.
An aside about that Checkers speech; we know that it was a soap opera, but Nixon knew it too. He said so, in a speech to the Radio and TV Executives Society on September 14, 1955.
"You all remember the 'Checker,' spec.11, suppose? Well, I want you to be the first to know — I staged it." He explained that Checkers and his wife's "Republican cloth coat" were props. Another prop, in the same Speech, worked less well. " Pat's not a quitter," he said of his wife. " After all, her name was Patricia Ryan and she was born on St Patrick's Day." Mrs Nixon was born on March 16. Sorry to bring that up, Capp. It's the lynch-mob liberal in me.
Nixon had a lynch mob of his own. Haldeman, Erlichmann, Kleindienst, whom Simon Winchester, in a glorious phrase, termed the "Teutons macoutes." When the Polls showed that Maskiewas running at times as far as nine points ahead of Nixon, we know What happened. Muskie was lynched, in one of the dirtiest gambits ever pulled even by the Nixon mob. I believe history will eventually record that Nixon and the aptly named Creep stole an election.
One man has been behind all Nixon's camPaigns, the Los Angeles lawyer Murray Chotiner. And Chotiner's formula is simple: do everything to discredit your opponent, associate him with subversion, even treason, and keep attacking.
If Edward Kennedy runs in 1976 Chotiner is already on record, in his advice to Kennedy's oPPonent in 1970.
"This is a classic case where the Republican Fandidate should say over and over again that fie will not make Chappaquiddick an issue in the campaign. If he says this enough times, I think the voters of Massachusetts will understand all about Chappaquiddick."
What would Capp's term be for Chotiner? For real lynch-mob language how can we 'gin to approach the masters?
But surely the prize for lynch-mob language prnliSt go to John Erlichman. When Patrick "ray, Acting FBI Director, tried to warn "iXon that he was being sabotaged by people Close to him, Erlichman said, "Let him hang there and just twist slowly, slowly in the Wind."
f•smber Senator Joseph McCarthy's first -pet:eh? v:While I cannot take the time to name all of Lue men in the State,,Department who have upeen named as members of the Communist i„artY and members of a spy ring, l'have here f", MY hand a list of 205 that were known to Secretary of State as being members of 'no Communist Party and who nevertheless asre still working and shaping the policy of the te Department."
r,,"ood lynch-mob talk. McCarthy, if you `M.Prnber, produced not a single name. Ever. Nixon campaigned' for McCarthy's reklection in 1952, and went out to McCarthy's ion'ie state of Wisconsin to do it, which is a Dell of a lot more than he did for any ;`ePublican in the '72 election. And, as shown jRepublican lack of support for Nixon since tergate, they haven't forgotten it.
Now guess who said this:
"Ninety-six per cent of the 6,926 Corn"Mists, fellow-travellers, sex perverts, people With criminal records, dope addicts, drunks nd other security risks removed under the E-Isenhower security programme were hired nY the Truman Administration." Oh, you knew it was Nixon? You must have teeked. Nixon never produced a single case 1,!Cause not one government employee had een removed by the Eisenhower Administration as a security risk. A ant Mr Capp calls us lynch-mob liberals. nd Mr Capp — well, he's Mr Capp. Allow me a prediction. My last prediction was that Bobby Riggs would liberate the' Faants off B. J. King, but let that pass. My test prediction is this: Nixon will get Agnew
out — maybe Spiro will be shot while trying to escape — and then will appoint a new vice-president, Richard Milhous Nixon. Then the President resigns, thus ending all that nasty Watergate mess, and guess who becomes the new president? Why, the vicepresident, of course!
Would he call Walter Lippmann a lynchmob liberal? Here's Lippmann on Nixon: "A ruthless partisan who does not have within his conscience those scruples which the country has a right to expect in the President of the United States."
Another quote, circa 1968: "Of all the men running, Richard Nixon is the most dangerous to have as president." • Capp, baby, this hurts me more than it does you. Know who said that?