On page 49 of Monica Crowley's Nixon in Winter, Richard Nixon tells Monica Crowley about a recent interaction that he had with George McGovern, who was his opponent in the 1972 Presidential election:
I'm sure you know about the McGovern thing,' [Nixon] said...'On the
shuttle home, I was reading before we took off and I heard somebody say
to Jerry [Rosalia, his security escort for that day], 'I know that
guy!' Well, it turned out to be [George] McGovern. So after we took
off, I had Jerry see if he had an empty seat next to him, and we had a
nice talk. He was thinking about running in '92, damn fool! But he was
always a very decent guy. He at least had the guts to stand up for
what he believed in, not like the current bunch of clowns.'"
loved this passage for a couple of reasons. First of all, Nixon was not
very positive about McGovern in his memoirs, even though Nixon could
speak highly of some of his political opponents. Nixon considered
McGovern to be sanctimonious and lacking in leadership qualities, and he
resented McGovern's attacks on him during the 1972 campaign. I'm
pleased to see that Nixon came to have a more positive view about
McGovern. And, according to this wikipedia article,
which appeals to an article about McGovern by William Greider, McGovern
came to have a positive view about Nixon: "George McGovern, Nixon's
onetime opponent, commented in 1983, 'President Nixon probably had a
more practical approach to the two superpowers, China and the Soviet
Union, than any other president since World War II ... With the
exception of his inexcusable continuation of the war in Vietnam, Nixon
really will get high marks in history.'"
Second, this passage
reminded me of a passage in volume 3 of Stephen Ambrose's trilogy on
Nixon, a passage that I loved but did not write about. Ambrose said
that Nixon respected the anti-war protesters because at least they were
in the arena, unlike a number of rich people. Nixon spoke against the
anti-war protesters when he was President, but he still respected that
they were standing up for what they believed.
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