Friday, January 09, 2004


Happy birthday to me, and to Richard Milhous Nixon, who would be 91 today. I think of Nixon often, and not just because I share a birthday with him (and also Joan Baez, Crystal Gayle, Bob Denver, Dave Matthews, Bart Starr and A.J. McLean, the Backstreet Boy with the complicated facial hair).

In the last couple of years I've probably read more books about Nixon than any other single subject. The current one is Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward's The Final Days, which tells the troubled tale of the latter part of the Watergate scandal, starting roughly at the moment John Ehrlichman and Bob Haldeman resigned in April 1973. Other recent reads are Nixon's Shadow, the pomo history by David Greenberg; Anthony Summers' The Arrogance of Power; and Art Buchwald's collection of satiric Watergate columns, "I Am Not a Crook". I've also been watching the five-part television documentary "Watergate," which ran on the BBC and Discovery Channel in 1994. And I read extensively about the Vietnam War, in which Nixon of course loomed large, as did Watergate.

Why the fascination? It's a little astrological, I suppose. Partisan ideology aside, I see some of myself in Nixon: the ambitiousness, yes, and also the secretiveness, the suspiciousness, the darkness. Did I mention the brooding? And of course, like Nixon, I love recording technology.

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