The sheer noise and spray of rhetorical fæces produced by the swarms of pygmy wretches infecting the U.S. political system these days makes it hard, sometimes, to reconstruct the full metal weirdness of the state of the nation way back when. That would have been my teen years, in the ‘70s, that time when those of us who aspired to the writing life had to buy our slates and no. 2 chisels directly from actual carbon-based life forms. We did so while watching the triumph and collapse of the King Rat of crazed, feral politicians, the 37th of his office, our own unindicted co-conspirator, Richard Milhouse Nixon. (Cue this number.)
It’s truly hard to convey just how evil, absurd, and oddly grand Nixon was to those who have only experienced the banal corruptions and miseries of the current scene, but the trademark Nixonian mix of paranoia, calculation, and genuine aspiration to statesmanship produced public theater the likes of which I do not think we’ll see again in my lifetime. Just how odd? Well, to get a taste, just a hint of the nooks and crannies of history into which even Tricky Dickie’s most trivial by-blows could lead, check out Joe Kloc’s tale of one man’s pursuit of what might be termed Nixon’s moon-struck folly.