Nixon: Man Behind the Mask - Gary Allen

Sincere Advice from the Unsilent Minority

Following Nixon's hairbreadth election the pundits of the Liberal media disgorged tons of advice to the President-elect. The tone was set by the CFR's Joseph Kraft in an article titled "Nixon's First Job: To Gain Unity Through Coalition." Exercising his typically involuted Kraftmanship, the ultra-Liberal columnist opined that the President-elect must abandon ". . . partisanship for a genuine move toward coalition with major elements of what is still the major party in the country—the Democrats."

Former adviser to President Eisenhower Arthur Larson urged the President to move the Republican party Leftward:

"There are two kinds of bringing-together or coalition possible. One, which is the source of genuine concern to Nixon's opponents, would be to fall back upon the familiar conservative coalition of Republicans with the most conservative Southern Democrats. The other would be to attract to a central core of moderate Republicans a whole range of dissatisfied moderate and liberal Democrats and independents, young people, Negroes, opponents of the Vietnam war and of the draft, and urban residents suffering from the myriad ailments of the cities.

"The surest way [for Nixon] to "blow it" would be to adopt the first course . . . It has been observed before that the role of the Republican party, like that of the Conservative Party in England, has sometimes seemed to be to come along after a burst of innovative legislation, and contribute a talent for consolidation and efficient administration . .

"Since the key to success in the Nixon Administration will be administration, not legislation, the place to launch the coalition is in the staffing of the Executive Branch and of the operating programs at all levels. That is why the importance of an unusually generous allocation of responsible jobs to Democrats, independents, and dissenters was never higher than now . . . what would be a more auspicious beginning than to call in Daniel P. Moynihan, who in his approach to these problems combines genuine compassion with unblinking realism and professional expertise?"

For far-Left "Republican" Arthur Larson, not even Leftish Democrats were far enough to port. Larson wrote:

"Although it is reassuring to see Nixon and Humphrey pledging unity, the "coalition" must reach even further than this—to those disaffected liberals, blacks, students, intellectuals, and urbanites who supported neither Nixon nor Humphrey . . .

"For seven years I observed at close range Nixon the elected Vice President. On the strength of that observation I can testify that Nixon is quite capable of developing a brand of Republicanism broad enough to bring into a working relation the disparate elements I have mentioned."

It is curious that the Liberals who had called John F. Kennedy's microscopic victory over Nixon in 1960 a "mandate" were now calling Nixon a minority president and screaming for a coalition with the Left. Nothing could have been more illogical. Actually, if Nixon's vote was added to that received by former Alabama Governor George Wallace, the repudiation of the Democrats' welfare-state-at-home, no-win-war-abroad policies was overwhelming. But no one was advocating that Nixon form a coalition government with the disaffected ten million who cast their votes for George Corley Wallace. They were apparently third-class citizens who did not deserve a voice, even though much of Nixon's campaign rhetoric was lifted lock, stock and cracker barrel from Wallace, whose campaign speeches attracted huge crowds around the country.

The Los Angeles Times' Washington correspondent, Robert J. Donovan, was not as strident as other Liberals who demanded a coalition with the Left. Donovan wrote: "The sum and substance of a Nixon Administration will be the defense of the political center in America against assault from the right and left."

Nixon had himself stressed many times that he was not a Conservative but a centrist. "America needs to hear the voices of the broad and vital center. The center is under savage attack. It must be held at all cost," the President-elect stated. During his campaign Nixon had played down the ideological differences that will determine whether the country shall continue to head left or shall swerve back toward the traditional stand of a free enterprise Republic. "The old quarrels between management and labor, between Democrat and Republican, between liberal and conservative must be put on the back burner until we decide together if society itself is going to survive," the President-elect said.

Donovan crowed that while Conservatives would be given some baubles, they would be hollow ones. "As a reward for past services—and maybe his only reward—Sen. Strom Thurmond (R-S.C.) will be invited to state dinners—and will love every minute of them." Donovan predicted that, ignoring the Conservatives who put him in office, the President would make a pitch to Liberal intellectuals:

". . . the new President, having seen his predecessor mangled by the intellectuals, will set out to show that, in his fashion, he is as hospitable to them as President John F. Kennedy was."

Donovan also predicted that the campaign promises to eliminate waste and government spending would never sprout wings. Wrote Donovan:

". . . He will espouse the "new economics"—the doctrine that the government shall use its taxing and spending powers to maintain a healthy economy . . . A continued rise in government spending [is assured], partly as a result of military requirements and of built-in increases in existing programs. Including everything, Nixon estimates an annual increase of $10.8 billion [in spending] . . . . . . It is not for nothing that Nixon calls himself a pragmatist."

Many Conservatives were confident, however, that the Nixon administration would at least partially repudiate the policies of those he had so caustically derided on occasion during his campaign. An optimistic Russell Kirk wrote:

"Obligated to no powerful interests [sic] for his election, he [Nixon] is free to act defensively for our common good, and the good of the world . . . Mr. Nixon owes nothing to the Republican liberals, who bitterly opposed his nomination and contributed little to his election. He is free from the slogans of yesteryear.

"Mr. Nixon owes nothing to the men of big business, who supported and cajoled President Johnson so long as that policy served their turn. He is free to act on behalf of the forgotten American. . . . If ever a President was free to lead the people, unfettered by promises to special interests, Richard Nixon is that man."

Vacationing in San Juan, Puerto Rico, columnist James Jackson Kilpatrick was confident that Nixon would ignore the pleas from the Left. Kilpatrick observed:

"The word that washes ashore on this sun-drenched island is that Richard Nixon is getting tons of bad advice these days: He is being urged to turn to the left in his policies and appointments, with a view towards recapturing the lost legions of the great northeast.

"The word comes in part from Robert Novak, the pundit, who has been roughing it here for the past few days. He is suggesting that Nixon 'may go far leftward by Eisenhower standards.' He expects the new cabinet 'to be speckled with left-of-center Republicans.'

"Why in the world should Nixon turn to the left? What's the left done for him lately? And how is it conceived that he owes some "debt" to Nelson Rockefeller?

"Nixon will blunder—and blunder badly if he veers to port in forming his administration and framing his program . . .

"But the greatest argument against any turn to the left by Nixon lies in the nature of the man. Nixon could not opt for newer and gaudier programs of public welfare, or for giddy flights of federal innovation, without abandoning the whole tenor of his fall campaign. He would then be fairly chargeable with hypocrisy, double-dealing, bad faith, and all the rest. He would be untrue to himself; and that he will not do. Of course, Nixon will go generally to the right. His own deepest instincts will not let him go anywhere else."

Although the observations of Kirk and Kilpatrick are perfectly logical if one ignores Nixon's long-time connections with the CFR, the fact remains that he lived in Nelson Rockefeller's apartment house as Rockefeller's neighbor in New York City and used Nelson Rockefeller's personal attorney, John Mitchell, as his campaign manager. The President soon made it clear that he was listening to the Krafts and Larsons and not to the Kirks and Kilpatricks. He announced that he would solicit "fresh ideas, new ideas, dissenting ideas, from many segments of the U.S. public". The intellectual community will not be reached by creating "a little office" in the White House to recruit brains, Nixon said,

". . .because if we are not worthy of support from the intellectual community [i.e., the academic Left] we are not going to get it . . . I consider myself an intellectual . . . we want to have a continuing relationship with the best brains in this country, with the colleges, universities, foundations, business organizations."

Many wishful-thinking Conservative Republicans rationalized away Nixon's actions during his eight years as Veep in the Eisenhower administration, and his often Liberal statements during his own two Presidential campaigns, by saying, in essence, "Just wait until he gets into office. Then he can be his own man. The real Nixon is a staunch Conservative."