Monday, January 14, 2013

RN @ 100

He would have loved it.  The faithful were gathered.   The venue was full.  The MC tried to get everyone to take their seats, but still they stood in the aisles, hugging, reminiscing, and not seeming to care one twit about sitting down for dinner.  The fire marshall was probably beside himself.  It was old times.  It was the best of times.  It was just like it used to be, when they ran the world for Him, who did it so well.  The more than 400 faces were wonderfully familiar: Tricia and Julie, Henry Kissinger, Dwight Chapin, Pat Buchanan, John Whitaker, Brent Scowcroft, Bruce Whelihan, Rob Odle, Henry Cashen, Bob Brown, Frank Gannon, Bill Codus, Hubert Perry . . . just to name a few.  And representing the outstanding group of Docents at the Nixon Library was Darlene Skye and her husband.

So what if they were all old now and He was gone.  They still relished their accomplishments as part of His team.  He had chosen them and they were proud to have served.  Richard Nixon's 100th birthday party was a wonderful celebration.

The cheap shots and familiar digs would come later, they always do. 

There are very few in the media who will recognize the accomplishments of the 37th President of the United States.  They only want to use the W word.  Watergate.  And the R word.  Resignation; as in the only President in U.S. history to resign.  We know that already.  We just want a balanced and fair shot with all the A words.  The Accomplishments.  They are many.  The list is long: Ending the draft, the all volunteer army, EPA, Clean Water Act, Clean Air Act, National Parks in Urban Areas, desegregated schools went from 10 percent when he took office, to 70 percent, the War on Cancer, the opening of China, The Salt and ABM treaties, Saving Israel, and on and on and on.  We only want what's fair.  President Bill Clinton said that history should judge RN by his entire career and we agree.

His 100th Birthday Cake was a replica of the little house in Yorba Linda where he was born.  I couldn't believe it was a cake when I first saw it, and so I got real close to it, and took a big whiff. Sure enough, it smelled like cake. It was cake!  It was an amazing reproduction of the charming little house that his father, Frank Nixon built. The President would have loved that cake.

President Nixon told a great story about cakes.  His first advance man was Ace Anderson, and he got the job because he had a car that was a convertible.  He took young Dick Nixon all over Southern California during his first political campaign.  He put a Victrola on a loud speaker to attract attention.  However, the only record he had was, "If I'd Known You Were Coming I'd Have Baked a Cake."  The song blared through the sunny streets of many small towns, doing what it was supposed to do.  The people came out to see what in the world all the noise was about.  Young Dick Nixon stood on Ace's car and spoke to the people who were crowded around.  And so began his remarkable journey forward into history.

The Advance function was important to President Nixon and you will recall that he established the first White House Advance Office.  That office was well represented at the Gala by Ron Walker, Bill Henkel, Karen Hart Fuller, Julie Rowe Cooke and Sally Brinkerhoff Hartwig.  I took a picture of them to go along with the cake, but it didn't turn out.  Take my word for it, they all looked just the same as they did when they were helping the 37th President make history.

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