And Then You Destroy Yourself: Nixon at the Movies

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i watched the actual debate on youtube for the first time a couple years ago. in the context of 2016, i have to say that nixon's "bad" performance didn't register nearly as sharply as it once did. i feel like i've read countless descriptions of these debates that made them sound like the beginning of the reality-tv age, with an inexperienced candidate beating an experienced one due to his good looks and charm -- but if anything the debate seemed almost absurdly serious and issue-based compared to what we get these days. at one point i think they spend like 10 minutes talking about farm subsidies, or something like that. tbh, if i hadn't known who nixon was or the kind of president he would become, my response to the debate would probably have been to envy the voters of 1960 who got to choose between these two remarkably qualified and intelligent candidates.

(The Other) J.D. (J.D.), Tuesday, 19 March 2019 23:34 (seven months ago) link

The CNN thing made the valid point that Nixon had to be mindful of his reputation--Hiss, Helen Gahagan Douglas--and downplay the already entrenched perception that he was ruthless. So his supporters thought he wasn't aggressive enough and came across as almost deferential to Kennedy (which he actually was anyway).

(xpost) True--but I bet Nixon would tell you that Kennedy's "Harvard boys" owned all the colour TVs. (Sure sign I've seen Oliver Stone's film too many times: I hear "Harvard boys" in Anthony Hopkins' voice.)

clemenza, Wednesday, 20 March 2019 00:27 (seven months ago) link

Part 2 tonight. Or at least I hope it doesn't get cancelled for an extra hour of nocollusionnocollusion talk.

clemenza, Sunday, 24 March 2019 21:08 (six months ago) link

Which is exactly what they've done--not happy at all.

clemenza, Monday, 25 March 2019 01:09 (six months ago) link

ha, I interrupted Animal Crackers to turn on CNN for the first time since December.

recriminations from the nitpicking woke (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Monday, 25 March 2019 01:23 (six months ago) link

three weeks pass...

The CNN series finished tonight. When Nixon resigned, his approval was 29%, the Supreme Court had just ruled against him 8-0, and his party was starting to line up against him. I've read a thousand variations on this story, but the distance from there to here is still astounding.

clemenza, Monday, 15 April 2019 02:22 (six months ago) link

Was it good? I've been skeptical of CNN series after their decades ones. I did watch this 2018 Watergate documentary over the weekend, and found it fairly gripping. They had actors re-enacting the transcripts, which was a bit cheesy at first but often worked for me — it drove the point home a bit more to see "Nixon" ranting about "liberal Jews" or hush money as part of regular conversation rather than a tinny recording or words on paper. Wish it had touched a bit more on the public reaction to the transcripts, though; Perlstein's Invisible Bridge has a great bit on all the moral conservatives clutching their pearls on discovering Nixon's vulgarity. (IIRC, Nixon once scolded Truman for un-presidential language by using "damn" in a public statement.)

blatherskite, Monday, 15 April 2019 18:59 (six months ago) link

I actually enjoy those decade shows...The Nixon series was 97% contemporaneous audio and video, which was great. I'd seen a lot of it already, but there was stuff I'd never seen or heard. Definitely caught Nixon at his worst: besides the racial epithets, you hear him saying that the opening of China was exactly the sort of thing that "the grey middle America" ate up because they were suckers. Definite allusions to Trump throughout, especially the ending.

clemenza, Monday, 15 April 2019 22:38 (six months ago) link

three weeks pass...

Watched black dynamite on mubi, pretty good

milkshake chuk (wins), Sunday, 12 May 2019 18:29 (five months ago) link

one month passes...

When the first explanatory title of Charles Ferguson's Watergate - Or, How We Learned to Stop an Out-of-Control President had to do with re-enactments and 100% true, my heart sank--was I really sitting down to four-plus hours of re-enactments? (I read as little as possible ahead of seeing a film, and I'd read nothing on this one.) Happily, no. They appear somewhat regularly in Part 1, almost not at all in Part 2; in total, there's maybe 20 minutes' worth. They're all inside the Oval Office, most prefaced by a real audio clip from the tapes. They're kind of awful, and I'm not sure why they're there.

The rest is quite good, especially all the footage from the hearings, where you usually just get Dean, Butterfield, and maybe Mitchell; there's much more here. (Why doesn't someone release the entire hearings on DVD? I know TV networks were pretty bad at archiving stuff then, but the footage must exist somewhere.) Two biggest revelations: one, Elizabeth Holtzman, the AOC of her day every which way; two, how badly compromised Howard Baker's "What does the President know..." question was. It wasn't heroic--he was a mole for the administration, and the question was meant to get Dean to perjure himself. In all that I've read and seen on Watergate, I don't think I ever knew that.

clemenza, Monday, 17 June 2019 04:30 (four months ago) link

By the way--today is the anniversary of the break-in.

clemenza, Monday, 17 June 2019 18:15 (four months ago) link

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