That Checkers Speech

You may recall not so long ago I was musing about the legacy of Richard Nixon.  I’m reading the biography about him by Conrad Black called Richard Milhous Nixon: The Invincible Quest. (It is a delicious irony to read the book of disgraced politician as chronicled by a disgraced author/businessman, but I’m sure you knew that.)  It’s not a quick read, but it is a good one so far.

One of the areas of great interest that I recently read was on what is recorded as one of the most fraught times in his life when he was accused of financial improprieties in the 1952 Presidential elections when he was running as VP to Dwight Eisenhower.  Black does a great job building the tension and atmosphere at the time.  Such was the level of the charges and the uncertainty that Nixon took this ‘unprecedented’ step of going straight to the American People for a decision.

Check it out for yourselves.  My favourite bits include where he says that his wife Pat would look good in anything, note how he checks his script for that one rather than his wife, and about the infamous Checkers dog and Nixon’s bold announcement that whatever happens – they’re going to keep it.

It has dated that’s for sure, but on the strength of this appeal, if Black’s account is to be accepted, Nixon salvaged his reputation and went on to retain his position as VP and eventually win the thing as Eisenhower went to the White House.  I wonder if something similar could ever work again for a politician in a hard place? Enjoy.




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