Thursday, October 24, 2013

Julie Nixon Eisenhower's Pat Nixon: The Untold Story 3

In today's post about Julie Nixon Eisenhower's Pat Nixon: The Untold Story, I will use two passages from Julie's book as a starting-point.  The main theme of this post will be resentment and forgiveness.

Throughout my reading thus far of Julie's book, Julie refers to wisdom, insights, or advice that her mother, Pat, gave about interpersonal relations.  Pat would give this advice to some of her students back when she was a teacher, and Pat as the Vice-President's wife sometimes talked about how she was able to connect with people in other countries, even though she did not know them and they were from a different culture.  She said that the smile is the universal language!  On page 189, Julie quotes a letter from Pat, which contained advice that Julie said "reflected [Pat's] philosophy of life".  Julie and Tricia were at a camp, and Julie had complained that some of the girls in her cabin were not particularly nice.  Pat wrote:

"In regard to the girls in your cabin: Just remember that some people are not as friendly and sweet as others.  The main thing is to treat them in a friendly fashion and stay your own sweet self rather than becoming like them.  When you think kind thoughts about them they will change for the better.  That is true all through life.  I love you very, very much!"

On pages 193-194, Julie talks about some of the shenanigans of the Kennedy campaign during the 1960 Presidential election:

"Once during the course of the campaign, Loretta Stuart came to our house to do Mother's hair before a trip.  She asked my mother why the Nixon campaign was not exposing some of the shady tactics of the powerfully financed Kennedy camp.  An example was the anti-Catholic mailers sent out during the Wisconsin primary to heavily Catholic precincts----all postmarked Minnesota, to look as if they were from Hubert H. Humphrey, Kennedy's main opponent in Wisconsin----but in truth they were the work of a friend of Robert Kennedy's.  The demolition of Humphrey in West Virginia also had included the innuendo that he was a draft dodger.  Humphrey was so angered by the Kennedy tactics that he publicly accused the candidate and his brother of 'cheap, low-down, gutter politics.'  In a 1976 autobiography, Humphrey would express his unhappiness with the Kennedy organization in this way: 'Underneath the beautiful exterior there was an element of ruthlessness and toughness that I had trouble either accepting or forgetting.'"

So end the readings.

What is ironic, of course, is that Nixon himself----or at least some of his underlings----was accused of engaging in ruthless campaigning and dirty tricks.  Nixon may have resented what Kennedy did to him, but there are many who would argue that Nixon became like Kennedy in that respect, if he was not like Kennedy already (though some would go further and say that Nixon was much worse).  Pat said that Julie should stay her own sweet self rather than becoming like her unfriendly cabin-mates.  Could Richard Nixon have benefited from such advice?  Or would he have concluded that it was unrealistic in the rough-and-tumble world of politics?

I don't know yet if Julie will address her father's campaign strategies, or the dirty tricks of some of his underlings.  So far in my reading, she has discussed Richard Nixon's races in 1946 and 1950.  Overall, she defends her father's controversial campaigns, saying that he was merely pointing out the records of his Democratic opponents, Jerry Voorhis in 1946 and Helen Gahagan Douglas in 1950.  She also portrays the campaigns as grass-roots, stating that her family in 1946 invested a significant amount of its own nest-egg in the campaign, and that ladies in 1950 sewed dresses for Pat.  That kind of gives the campaign a down-home feel, doesn't it?  Of course, Roger Morris and certain other biographers would portray Nixon's campaigns as heavily-financed by rich special interests.  I should note, however, that Julie does depict the 1950 campaign as rough, on both sides.  She seems to acknowledge that her father attacked Douglas, but she also notes that Douglas attacked Nixon.  What surprised me is that, at least thus far, Julie is not particularly critical of Murray Chotiner, Nixon's controversial, take-no-prisoners campaign adviser, even though I have read in a couple of places that Nixon's family did not really care for Chotiner.  Julie narrates that Nixon came to rely more on the advice of his aides rather than that of his wife, but Julie also quotes Chotiner's praise for Pat's toughness!

But back to the topic of resentment and forgiveness!  It's hard for many people to move past resentment and to embrace forgiveness.  Pat, Richard, and maybe even Julie had a difficult time getting past the hurt that others had done to Richard in the political arena.  Maybe Pat still felt that she was following her own philosophy of life in that she was still nice to those people, whenever she came into contact with them.  (I don't know for sure if she was, and Julie in my reading thus far does not explicitly say that she was, but many of us maintain some friendly veneer when we're interacting with people we don't like.)  But I doubt that it was easy for her to think kind thoughts about them!

I think that Pat's philosophy of life is easier when it comes to the everyday snubs that one can regularly or occasionally experience.  If I were to obsess over the people who are not nice, I would not be functional, so I do need to follow Pat's philosophy of life, on some level.  But there are times when following her philosophy of life can be extremely difficult: when one has been attacked in the political arena, for example.  In that case, how would one forgive or at least forget, and move on?

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