Sunday, October 27, 2013

Julie Nixon Eisenhower's Pat Nixon: The Untold Story 6

For my blog post today about Julie Nixon Eisenhower's Pat Nixon: The Untold Story, I'll use as my starting-point something that Julie says on page 312:

"For months, Tricia had been denying----with my mother, father, David, and I faithfully following the family line----rumors of an engagement to Ed Cox, but the rumors were put to rest that night with an official announcement of her engagement.  She and Ed had been in and out of, but mostly in, love for a long time.  They had first met at Tricia's senior-year school dance in 1964.  Both were romantic and idealistic, and both were intelligent, opinionated, and strong-willed.  At times they disagreed over politics.  After graduating from Princeton University, Ed spent the summer of 1968 working for consumer activist Ralph Nader, while Tricia campaigned for my father."

I have three items.

1.  Something that stood out to me in this passage is that Julie seems to be acknowledging that her family was lying to the public about Tricia Nixon's engagement.  I may be completely off base here, since maybe the Nixons were denying her engagement in a time when she was not engaged----after all, Julie said that Tricia and Ed Cox fell in and out of love for quite some time.

But there are other places where Julie seems to admit that her family was not completely transparent to the public.  On page 325, she refers to a column that Jack Anderson wrote revealing the contents of a meeting that Henry Kissinger had with the Washington Special Actions Group, which consisted of people from the State and Defense Departments, the CIA, and the National Security Council.  Julie states that "The minutes revealed that Kissinger clearly had indicated a presidential 'tilt' toward Pakistan, which was at variance with the neutral position of the Administration on the [India-Pakistan] war."  On pages 323, Julie tells a funny anecdote about a letter that Pat received from an eighth grader, lamenting the life of a First Lady, while attempting to look at things from the First Lady's perspective (thus speaking in the first-person).  The fifth grader's letter said that being a First Lady means getting a sore throat after giving a speech, hurting one's feet after standing for hours, getting back-aches from sleeping in lots of hotels, and hearing bodyguards outside when one is trying to sleep.  The fifth-grader then went on to say, "I wish I could be an ordinary housewife and wear sneakers and blue jeans."  Pat wrote back to the fifth-grader that being the First Lady is a "special joy and privilege", but Pat saved the fifth-grader's letter, saying "She hits the spot!"

And, while Julie throughout the book (at least in what I have read thus far) very rarely questions her father's presidential decisions, she does admit that it was a mistake for her father to install the taping system in the White House, since (in her mind) his method of discussion and decision-making gave people the wrong impression when it was made public.

I suppose that many people are not completely transparent to people, and they may tell "white lies."  Some of those lies may be excusable.  Others, however, are not necessarily.

2.  Julie says that her sister Tricia was "strong-willed".  On that note, I'd like to share something that Anthony Summers says about Tricia in The Arrogance of Power, on page 326.  Essentially, Summers depicts Tricia as somewhat of a diva:

"Tricia did not endear herself to Nixon's staff.  Ehrlichman thought her a 'tough and troubled cookie.'  She once reported an Air Force steward for allegedly staring at her legs.  An usher who had been told to bring pillows to Tricia and a friend was then expected to lift the friend's outstretched legs to create a hassock.  Secret Service agents, who dubbed Tricia Goody Two-shoes, objected to being instructed to water her plants while she was away on a trip.  They carried out the mission, one agent claimed, by urinating on them."
In the endnotes, Summers cites Ehrlichman's book, some secondary sources, and a couple of former agents.
Julie probably wouldn't agree with Summers' characterization of Tricia, while also highlighting the positive things that Tricia did.

3.  In my post here, I talked about Tricia's staunch conservative political views, and how my impression was that Julie was more open to different perspectives.  Overall, I'd say that Julie echoes her father's political views in this book, as she largely defends her father's policies as President.  But, on page 327 of Julie's book, we read:

"The subject that night was the role of women.  David and I had just read Betty Friedan's The Feminine Mystique, a thoughtful analysis of women's place in society prior to and at the onset of the feminist movement.  My father was intrigued and asked for a copy as a belated Christmas gift.  Tricia had commented that unless it was absolutely necessary, she felt children five years and younger should not be sent to day-care centers."

Here, Julie seems to be somewhat open to Friedan's argument, at least enough to call Friedan's book a "thoughtful analysis".  But Tricia in the discussion expresses a rather conservative position.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Search This Blog