Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Old Postcard Wednesday--The Nixon Family

The first election in which I was eligible to vote was in 1972, when Nixon ran for re-election against
George McGovern. I drove alone to the old University of Nevada gymnasium and there, behind a dull-gray curtain in one of a bank of narrow voting booths along one wall, I set my ballot on a tiny shelf and -- full of a certain solemn excitement -- I cast my passionate vote for McGovern.

The rest is history.

Nov. 7, 1972

Headlines throughout post via Bing Images. The postcard has no information printed on the back, so I do not know the date of the photo. The text source for article quoted below is at end of article.

1972: Nixon VS. George McGovern

    1972’s election outcome was decided early on in the Democratic primary. The Democrats were trying to oust a sitting president who although not very popular, was an effective president. What made their task even harder was that the Democrats lost their front runner candidate, Edmond Muskie, early because the media portrayed him as an emotionally unstable person because he appeared to be “crying” while he was denouncing a news paper editorial that attacked his wife. The incident left the Democrat party without a candidate capable of unsetting the President.
     Since the outcome of the election was not in doubt, the only thing that was memorable about the 1972 election was the Watergate scandal that started out small and eventually forced the President to resign for the first time in the history of the U.S.A.  The Democratic Party was in disarray as they were in the 1968 election.  They nominated McGovern who was known as a very left wing liberal and an ineffective campaigner. In addition, the candidate's first choice for a running mate was forced to resign because the media found out that he had received shock therapy. The candidate was forced to look for another Vice President nominee at the time he should have been focusing on getting his message across to the voters.  The person he picked for the Vice President was President Kennedy’s brother in law, Sergeant Shriver, who had never run for elected office and his only experience in the government was being the first peace corp. director under the Kennedy administration.
      The press constantly criticized the Democratic candidate for everything from his stand on the issues to his strategy. President Nixon's campaign was portrayed as an efficient and superior model of how to run a successful campaign. The press took the Nixon campaign portrayal of the McGovern policies as out of the main stream and ran with it without investigating it and finding out for themselves. The McGovern campaign was no match for the Nixon campaign organization and their constant distortion of his ideas to the media. The media took as a fact most of the distortion without trying to ascertain the fact. One of the reasons the media portrayed the McGovern campaign in a negative light is because the media knew that Nixon was going to win and they did not want to carry a favor with the President who was very vindictive against reporters who reported negative stories against the administration or the campaign.
     The media hated Nixon until he became President.  Nixon, for his part, also hated the media and blamed them for his loss of the presidential election of 1960 and the California Governor election of 1962. When he ran in 1968, he largely avoided the media. Once he became President, he mostly eliminated the reporters he did not like by not granting privileges to the White House and by not granting access to the administration officials.  The action forced the media to be exceedingly fair to the Nixon administration until the Watergate scandal erupted. Many reporters did not want to report negative stories about the administration because they feared losing sources and access to the White House.  The media also did not like the Democratic candidate and many newspapers endorsed President Nixon. That is one reason why many newspapers, except the Washington Post, did not bother to dig deep when the Watergate scandal broke out. Had the truth come out before the election, Nixon would most likely would have been defeated, sparing the country two years of turmoil in the executive branch and two years of the most corrupt and paranoid President in the history of the United States of America.
      With the help of the media, Nixon won a second term in one of the biggest landslide election in the U.S. history. He won all the States except for Massachusetts. However, the euphoria did not last long.  The administration was soon forced to answer question about the Watergate scandal, which was dismissed as third rate burglary until two reporters from Washington Post discovered the burglars connection with the Republican National Committee and the Nixon re-election committee CREEP. The administration tried to stop Woodward and Bernstein from investigating the scandal by threatening the Washington Post not to renew the company’s television station license unless they ceased reporting on the burglary. When the administration threatened the Washington Post for reporting the burglary, it picked the interest of other reporters and the burglary soon turned into scandal and forced the sitting President to resign under a threat of impeachment.

Aug. 9, 1974

        The lasting legacy of the Watergate scandal is that the media now thinks every mistake a President makes is another Watergate that needs to be investigated and reported as a scandal without any evidence. Not only do reporters portray small mistakes as a scandal, they also go out of their way to investigate and dig for “dirt” to see if the person is clean and worthy of being a President. The unintended cost of the media’s obsession with scandal and investigation is that it turns people off from seeking elected office because they do not want their privacy to be violated.  It also makes it harder for the candidates to convey their messages to the voters because what the media reports give priority to the scandal, not for the candidate's ideas. [Source:]



mythopolis said...

I voted the same way. I attended the Dem convention in Miami that year that led to McGovern's selection as candidate of choice.

Mainstream media is, and almost always has been up for sale. If you want to create a smear ad all it costs is money. The fact that the smear has no factual basis is not even an issue as long as you pay the network for the air time. Just another way in which money buys political leverage and power. Used to be people in congress were statesmen in a true sense. Now they are more like rival gangs each trying to assassinate the character of the other.

Indigo said...

I've always thought you had a wise head on your shoulders. (Hugs)Indigo

Don't Feed The Pixies said...

Ah Richard Nixon - there's a name that history won't be forgetting in a hurry

Having said that though there was a question on a quiz show recently where they asked 100 people to name a British Prime Minister under Queen Elizabeth II - and only 74 people remembered Margaret Thatcher

Unthinkable for those of us that survived the Thatcher years to believe that one of the most iconic figures of politics (love her or hate her) could be so quickly forgotten

I do blame Nixon for one thing though - that every time we have a scandal now they add - gate - to the end of the name in the title.

Does no one else remember it was a hotel?

mythopolis said...

Pixies: yes, I recall that. I hope the trend doesn't go on to include 'Mythgate' because I have a lot of missing tape.

While I haven't seen the film yet, but I understand Meryl Streep plays an awesome Thatcher. If she didn't do it, Helen Mirren would have!
I would like to see Meryl and Helen play opposite one another one of these days.

Looking to the Stars said...

Great card, wow it takes you way back doesn't it.

I didn't vote for Nixon either, what a scandal the nation endured. The only problem was, everyone was doing it, Nixon was the only one who got caught.

Mama Zen said...

I had a feeling I liked your politics!

hedgewitch said...

I think Nixon is to blame for the distrust of government that is currently foaming at the mouth all through our politics--he proved a crook could win the highest office, cover up his evil with a phony smile(Oh how I hated seeing him wave those fish-phony peace signs!) and none the wiser. Now everybody just assumes the government is unfixable and populated by crooks, and it's become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Lydia said...

mythopolis~ That is fascinating that you attended the Dem convention in Miami! Those were the days before the conventions were as "canned" as they are now, too, so you witnessed a piece of a dying political past...
I agree with you that a great movie would be one that starred Meryl Streep and Helen
Also, what's this about your missing tape?!

Indigo~ Your comment made me smile. :)

Pixies~ I admit that I am shocked by the results of the quiz show piece. With all the hoopla over The Iron Lady, I bet there would be more Americans who would answer that correctly (not a usual thing, however). Interesting that you would term it as those who "survived" the Thatcher years because that is how I felt about her good buddy, Ronald Reagan. The Nixon years were an ordeal, too, but they at least gave the sense that we were living in historic times.
Not only do I remember that it is a hotel, but I also remember that it is where Monica Lewinsky lived in that certain part of the Clinton presidency....

Looking to the Stars~ Yes, it sure does take you back. And takes me back to a personally really weird family memory, regarding Pat Nixon. My stepfather was a strange guy, never really figured him out, and when Pat Nixon would be shown on TV he would get all choked up, and nearly always said, "Pat's a lovely woman!" It drove my mother stark raving crazy. Ah, family dynamics!

Mama Zen~ Likewise, friend. :)

hedgewitch~ I agree. He definitely seeded the cloud that continues to loom over our politics today. And Reagan later provided the toxins that filled the cloud with acid rain.
I just wonder in what ways things would be different if McGovern had won back in '72....

Hattie said...

To my eternal shame, I voted for Nixon against Kennedy, because I thought Kennedy came across as a warmonger in the debates. These were the first televised presidental debates.
Of course, they were both warmongers.

Kathe W. said...

oh lordy we thought things were bad look at where we are
By the way my word verification today is "bacqu"
Bacqu to you-over and out!
Happy New Year!

mythopolis said...

The interesting thing about Miami, Lydia - was that demonstrators were allowed to camp and assemble in Flamingo Park. Police patrolled the perimeter of the park but did not come in to interfere. However, also in the park were flagrant drug dealers with substances laid out on tables for people to purchase. It was almost as though we were being 'baited' to get high. This would keep us from being 'too organized'. Nevertheless, the Yippies did manage to commandeer an army truck, loaded it with protestors, drove it to the hotel where McGovern was staying, and announced they would turn over the truck when they had an opportunity to speak with McGovern. A very crazy time was had by all!

mythopolis said...

PS... Missing tape? What missing tape? : )

susan said...

I lived in Canada at the time so I didn't get a chance to vote for McGovern. I'm proud of you for having done so.

Don't Feed The Pixies said...

I mentioned the dodgy politics of Welsh rock band the Manic Street Preachers recently - so thought you might enjoy some relevant lyrics from them:

The song title?

The Love Of Richard Nixon

The world on your shoulders
The love of your mother
The fear of the future
The best years behind you
The world is getting older
The times they fall behind you
The need it still grows stronger
The best years never found you

The love of Richard Nixon , death without assassination
The love of Richard Nixon, yeah they all betrayed you
The love of Richard Nixon, death without assassination
Yeah they all betrayed you
Yeah and your country too

Love build around the sandy beaches
Love rains down like Vietnam's leeches
Richard the third in the White house
Cowering behind divided curtains

The world is getting older
The times they fall behind you
The need it still grows stronger
The best years never found you

The love of Richard Nixon, death without assassination
The love of Richard Nixon, yeah they all betrayed you
The love of Richard Nixon, death without assassination
Yeah they all betrayed you
Yeah and your country too

The love of Richard Nixon, death without assassination
The love of Richard Nixon, yeah they all betrayed you
People forget China and your war on cancer
Yeah they all betrayed you
Yeah and your country too

Lydia said...

Hattie~ Do not shame yourself. I bet you more than made up for it in later presidential votes. I think that my mother and stepfather voted for Nixon in 1960 also, and I am not sure how she voted in 1968...although I remember her admiring Humphrey. We just didn't discuss politics, per se, in our family. The plus side of that is that I developed my own political views without pressure from anyone.

Kathe~ Bacqu! Now there's a fitting-sounding word. Those were bad days, to be sure, but the far-right that has developed since then still has me in shock!

mythopolis~ The tapes about your activity in Flamingo Park, of course!!! Really, the story you relayed is so fascinating! A written compilation of your memories of that time juxtaposed with the Occupy camps of today would be an interesting piece. :)

susan~ You were with him anyway. I wonder if you may have seen him speak at PSU in the mid-80s? I was in the audience that day and it was a wonderful experience to see him all those years later and to wonder: what if?

Pixies~ Wow! Those are amazing lyrics! I don't think I am so clueless...I really don't think this is a well-known song (or group, even) in the U.S. Thank you for your profound addition to comments on this post.

Don't Feed The Pixies said...

Lydia - somehow i doubt that the Manic Street Preachers, with their flirtation with communist chiq, have made much impact in the USA

The song was a minor hit here from one of their more recent albums

When they're good, however, they're very good - check out the link to Motorcycle Emptiness on my recent blog post "five of the best"

Lydia said...

Pixies~ Wow, so it's actually a recent little ditty. Amazing! I will be blog-reading over the weekend. Tonight I am going with a friend to a concert that is about as far as you can get from Manic Street Preachers, etc.......Joshua Bell. )

francessa said...

Liked your post and vote a lot ;-)

Brian Miller said...

ugh...the message def gets lost in the sauce in politics...i think nixon was a turning point in that and ever since....i mean seriously i would not want to be president...i dont know if i could take that kinda beating...

Lydia said...

francessa~ It is interesting to think that you may have known about McGovern, where the likelihood of my knowing about one of Austria's politicians that decade is very slim.

Brian~ Oh, I would not want to be president either. Takes a different breed of humanoid to handle it all. Never forget Robert Redford's character in The Candidate, moments after learning he had won the presidency: What do we do now?



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