Sunday, November 17, 2013

President Nixon: Alone in the White House 3

My theme in today's post will be liking and disliking people.

According to more than one book about Richard Nixon that I have read, Nixon did not like the media.  As I read more of Richard Reeves' President Nixon: Alone in the White House, I could see why.  Reeves talks about how a New York Times editorial was quite critical of Nixon for calling the astronauts who landed on the moon, saying that Nixon was wasting their valuable time and was trying to steal glory from the previous Johnson and Kennedy Administrations.  As I read that, I could understand why Nixon hated the media.  I mean, how petty can you get?  Can't the President call astronauts who were doing something historically significant, without being nitpicked for that?

But there were disadvantages to Nixon's dislike for the media, as justifiable as it may have been.  Reeves says that Pat Nixon was disappointed that the media were not doing any personal stories about Nixon, that they did not know about, say, Nixon's sense of humor.  But Reeves said that people in the media were claiming that they wanted access to Nixon, but they were not getting it because Nixon was shutting them out.  How can they do personal stories about Nixon, if they cannot even see Nixon?

What I just now wrote concerned people whom Nixon disliked.  What about people Nixon liked?  In various books that I have read, I see that there were people whom Nixon liked.  Nixon liked his fellows in the Navy and the Southerners with whom he went to law school on account of their patriotism.  He didn't always stay in touch with them, but some have argued that these sorts of attitudes may have shaped his later decisions.  For example, his relationship with the Southerners at Duke Law School convinced him that the South needed to be welcomed back into the union, and that may have influenced his two attempts to appoint Southerners to the Supreme Court.

Where am I going with this?  Well, this information makes me think about whom I like and dislike, and how that affects my relationship with them.  Nixon may have disliked certain elites, while liking the everyday, salt-of-the-earth people.  Are there people I like or dislike?  I think that there are many elderly people who are friendly.  I tend to shy away from my peers, however, since I question whether they are overly accepting.  Often, I wonder if I would have more friends if I actually liked more people.

But, sometimes, it may be necessary to form bridges with people whom one may not particularly like.  Nixon may not have cared for the media, but perhaps the media could have helped him, had he opened up to them more.  Nixon probably had a "screw you" sort of attitude that hindered this, and he might have profited had he seen the media, not as bad, per se, but as people pursuing their own interests, the same way that he could see certain foreign countries, such as the Soviet Union, with whom he dealt constructively.
I could say more, but I'll stop here.

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