There were two passages in my latest reading of Irwin Gellman's The Contender: Richard Nixon, The Congress Years, 1946-1952 that stood out to me:
1. Murray Chotiner
worked for Richard Nixon when he ran for the U.S. House of
Representatives and also the U.S. Senate. On pages 351-352, Gellman
"Nixon referred to Chotiner as 'one of the most objective
and astute political observers in the country.' He occasionally
attended a Democratic political meeting, 'as one John Q. Public, in
order to make a firsthand observation of the opposition party,' and
evaluated Truman's successful selling of his anti-inflation bill, which
would halt rising prices, while his opposition's proposals would not.
He analyzed criticisms of Nixon's senatorial operations, as well as
traveling throughout California and sending the senator [Nixon] a
comprehensive report of the conditions there."
I admired Chotiner
when I read this. He was a hard worker. He was eager to learn, even
from the other side. And he was willing to look at his own side's
weaknesses and to evaluate them.
2. On page 353, Gellman states the following about Senator Nixon's relationship with Republican Senator William Knowland of California:
and Knowland had always been closely aligned. Not only were they both
conservative Republicans in their domestic views, but they also agreed
on many foreign policy issues such as support for the Truman Doctrine
and the Marshall Plan. Nixon also defended Knowland, who was scorned as
the 'senator from Formosa' for his advocacy of the Nationalist Chinese
position. Nixon felt that too many Californians did not recognize 'the
great service he [Knowland] has rendered to the country in pointing up
the dangers which that situation presents to the very security of the
nation.' After assuming his Senate seat, Nixon and Knowland rotated
returning home so that at least one of them would always remain on
So there was a time when California had two
conservative Republican Senators! Imagine that! Anyway, this passage
stood out to me because it's beautiful when two people can see eye to
eye, respect one another, and work together. Often, this doesn't work
out, and with good reason, since people can have legitimate
differences. And yet, it's beautiful when it does work out. In the
case of Nixon and Knowland, they saw eye to eye in that they were
conservative, even as they both departed from a number of conservatives
in that they supported the Marshall Plan. (Later in the book, however,
Senator Nixon appears to gravitate to and from isolationism, for Nixon
was sometimes thinking that Europe should become more self-sufficient,
as well as was reluctant to support sending U.S. troops abroad.)
According to the wikipedia article on Knowland, however, Nixon and
Knowland later battled each other for influence in the California
3. I'd like to add a third item. Gellman talks about the life of Rose Mary Woods,
who was Nixon's secretary from his Senate days through his Presidency.
One thing that I really like about Gellman's book is that he tells us
about the life and background of several figures. I enjoy reading
people's stories and getting to know them as people.
Make America Great Again!
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