My latest reading of Irwin Gellman's The Contender: Richard Nixon, The Congress Years, 1946-1952 got into Richard Nixon's 1950 run for the U.S. Senate. This topic will encompass my next reading of Gellman, as well.
On page 289, Gellman states the following:
U.S. Senate contest in California during 1950 has been the stuff where
legend has replaced fact. 'Tricky Dicky' smeared Helen Gahagan Douglas,
the 'Pink Lady,' thus relying on the anti-Communist hysteria to propel
the dirty trickster into the upper House. The record, however, paints
quite a different scene. Helen Gahagan Douglas was far to the left of
many Democrats, let alone Republicans. Besides her close attachment to
New and Fair Deal policies that the majority of her party was
abandoning, she ran the campaign without the benefit of an effective
statewide staff, clearly defined strategy, or an adequate fund-raising
scheme. Along with these Herculean disadvantages, a large segment of
the Democratic Party had rejected her unswerving advocacy of
liberalism. By the time of the general election, she had been
thoroughly smeared, not by Nixon but by her own party. Faced with
widespread Democratic desertion that she was unable to prevent, Douglas
never united the warring factions of the Democratic Party to battle
against the Republican enemy. Her painfully inept stewardship----not
Nixon----guaranteed her demise."
That's the picture that Gellman
paints: Douglas experienced a rough Democratic primary before she
finally ran against Richard Nixon. Moreover, Gellman mentions times
when Douglas as a representative in the U.S. House voted with a tiny
minority against things that garnered a significant amount of support by
both Republicans and a number of Democrats, on such issues as internal
security (but more on her stance on internal security tomorrow). She
was also against the Truman Doctrine for fighting Communism abroad.
Gellman does present Douglas as rather marginal. At the same time,
Gellman's narrative also does not portray Nixon as one who pulled his
punches. While Gellman says at one point in the book that Nixon did not
attack Douglas during the primary and that she attacked Nixon first, he
also narrates that Nixon criticized her as well, fearing that her
stance did not take seriously the threat of Communism.
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