Monday, November 25, 2013

President Nixon: Alone in the White House 11

On page 321 of President Nixon: Alone in the White House, Richard Reeves quotes President Richard Nixon's negative reaction to a White House Correspondents Association dinner:

"Every one of the recipients was receiving an award for a vicious attack on the Administration----Carswell, wiretapping, Army surveillance, etc.  I had to sit there for 20 minutes while the drunken audience laughed in derision as the award citations were read....The dinner, as a whole, was probably the worst of its type I have attended....I don't want any of our naive staff members to give you any impression that as a result of my going there and sitting through three hours of pure boredom and insults, I thereby proved I was the 'good sport' and thereby may have softened some of the press attitude towards the President.  On the contrary, the type of people who are in the press corps have nothing but contempt for those who get down to their level and who accept such treatment without striking back.  That's one of the reasons they have some respect for [Vice-President Spiro] Agnew [who spoke against the media.]"

That quote of Nixon inspires me to ask a question: When should one stand up for oneself, and when does doing so make a person look humorless, insecure, and whiny?  There are times when standing up for oneself can earn respect, but there are times when it might not.  What should Nixon have done at that White House Correspondents Dinner, as people were being awarded for scathing pieces about his Administration, in his very presence?  That would be pretty awkward, wouldn't it?

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