"Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what's going to happen next. Delicious Ambiguity." ~ Gilda Radner

Saturday, June 16, 2012


I haven't always been a dyed-in-the-wool Democrat.

Oh, no.

In fact, my time-worn "Mementos" scrapbook is chockfull of riveting evidence that  many moons ago  I called myself a Republican....

Letters postmarked February 1977 from area Republican congressmen, addressed to me, Ann Heise, secretary of the Ohio University Young Republican Club, politely declining our invitation to a YR fund-raiser...

My schedule of speakers and "Ohio GOP" nametag from the 17th annual School of Politics hosted by the Ohio League of Young Republicans, held at the Pick Fort Hayes Hotel in Columbus,  OH, also in February 1977...

My President Gerald Ford bumper sticker,  5 x 7 black and white photo of  him, and one of him and his lovely wife, Betty, embracing. (I worked by butt off for Gerald  in his election bid against Jimmy Carter. Cried my eyes out the night he lost.)

Hard to believe, I know.

Cuz anyone who knows me or has ever glanced at my Facebook page realizes I am all about re-electing President Barack Obama this November, and until about a week and a half ago, even had a clock counting down the days till he is re-elected perched at the top of The Home Stretch. (Still counting the days, just decided to change up the blog layout a tish.)

Yes, I definitely lean left and have --  if I can come close to pinpointing the moment --  since I was a junior in college. Not sure what happened, other than I one day found myself  considering songs like  I Am Woman Hear Me Roar, Give Peace A Chance and He Ain't Heavy He's My Brother more as political mantras, not just tunes. I decided that for all intents and purposes, I was an Independent, not tethered to either the Republicans or Democrats. But eventually, I realized that truly, in my heart of hearts, I have all the liberal philospohical markings of a Democrat and have voted as such for some time.

Save for a brief moment of obvious insanity in my late 40s when I helped vote W in for a second term, that is. I blame that on pre-menopausal madness.

Anyway...I bring this up not because I can't stand Mittens (my fave pet name for Mitt Romney) and would not vote for him if he were the last presidential candidate on earth, but because I once dearly loved President Richard M. Nixon.

And this Sunday marks the 40th anniversary of the infamous Watergate break-in. Five men arrested  for burglary and attempting to wiretap the Democratic National Committee.  The beginning of the end for Richard.

Heavy sigh.

Say what you will, he was an excellent foreign policy president. I actually once wrote a stunning essay on all Nixon's positive presidential attributes for my college government class under the awe-inspiring tutelage of one Professor Mark Weinberg my sophomore year at Ohio University. OK, so "stunning" might be a stretch. But I did get an A, as I recall.

In all honesty, however, it was not Nixon's flair for foreign policy that endeared him to me.  No, I think it was merely  the fact that I grew up in a household full of die-hard Republicans.  My dad, My mom. And later, my older sister.  Nixon supporters, every one. Heck, somewhere around here I still have my late mother's rhinestone "Nixon"  circle pin,  my dad's "This Time, Make Mine Nixon" coffee cup. Richard Nixon was like part of the fam.

As I recall, I even had a poster of Nixon in my bedroom in connection with his 1960 presidential campaign against John F. Kennedy. I would have preferred Captain Kangaroo or Mr. Green Jeans, or heck, even Dancing Bear or Grandfather Clock. But hey....Richard Nixon it was.

All I know is, when  Nixon declared, "I am not a crook" during the Watergate scandal, I believed him. OK, so I was wrong. Nevertheless, I still felt very sad the day he resigned from office Aug. 9, 1974.

So sad was I, that I took it upon myself in 1976-- with the assistance of my childhood buddy Holly Berry (not Halle, Holly) -- to try to call the White House (after an afternoon of, um, enjoying a few, um, root beer floats one spring afternoon our freshman year in college) to see if we could get Nixon's forwarding address. We wanted to write him a letter, letting him know we, Ann Heise and Holly Berry, still loved him despite his political shenanigans.

Richard and Pat at La Casa Pacifica
I wish I could recall all the details of that phone call (alas, those were strong root beer floats). But apparently we somehow got his La Casa Pacifica address from somewhere, and we must have written him because I still have his reply. A stamped  4x6 postcard that said, "Your kindness in writing was greatly appreciated. Although I would enjoy responding to every message individually, the heavy volume of mail and the limited staff makes this impossible. It is a pleasure to send gratitude and best wishes. Richard Nixon."

His limited staff, however, must have had enough time on their hands at some point to apparently give my name to Grosset and Dunlap, Inc., Publishers, because I later received a "special offer" on a copy of Nixon's "Memoirs".

"Dear Friend," the letter began. "During the darkest hours of "Watergate", when President Nixon was being tried by the press, you had the courage to stand up for him. (Liquid  courage perhaps.)

My heroes, Woodward and Bernstein
While many cried, 'Impeach him,' you were thoughtful enough to wonder if there was not another side to the Nixon story than that portrayed by Woodward and Bernstein, the liberal press and, more recently, by David Frost's carefully cut and edited TV specials. (Timing is everything...by the time I got this letter, I was steeped in journalism/investigative reporting classes, Woodward and Bernstein were my heroes and I couldn't wait to be a full-fledged, card-carrying member of the "liberal press", i.e, journalists who uncover and report the truth.)

"That other side, the full, undistorted story of Mr. Nixon's entire political career, is being published this spring...and because you were one of his loyal supporters in his time of greatest need, Mr. Nixon has agreed to personally autograph a copy of his autobiography especially for you, in a limited edition which will not be available in stores." (Undistorted...right.)

Too much, too little, too late, my darling Richard. Didn't buy the book.

But thanks for the memories.

No comments: