Editors note: To many—well, most—Americans, Richard Nixonis Christmas. More than any other person [with the arguable exception of Meadowlark Lemon], the 37th president of the United States personifies all that is right and wonderful about this Yuletide, so much so that there remains a strong movement to rename the holidays Dickmas. So it just seemed natural that we ask Mr. Nixon to answer our readers' holiday queries. We think you'll see from the president's responses—culled from a 1971 conversation with then-adviser Daniel Patrick Moynihan—that he understands what the holiday spirit means toall people.
It happens every year. I make plans for a holiday dinner, and then at the last minute, my husband informs me he has invited over this military strongman or that benevolent shah. What can I do to get my husband to cooperate, and how do you get bloodstains out of potpourri?
I'm not saying that blacks cannot govern. I'm saying that they had a helluva time. Now that must demonstrate something. Now, having said that, let's look at Latin America. Latin America has had 150 years of trying at it, and they don't have much going down there, either. Mexico is a one-party government; Colombia, they trade it off every two years; Venezuela is tippy-toe; and the rest are dictatorships, except for [President Salvador] Allende [of Chile], which is a communist dictatorship. Elected, but communist. . . . The Italians aren't any good at government. The Spanish aren't any good at government.
Could you settle a bet? My brother-in-law and I disagree on which one of Santa's reindeers is a communist. He says it's Prancer, but I believe it's Trotsky.
The French have had a helluva time, and they're half-Latin, and all of Latin America is not any good at government. They either go to one extreme or another. It's either a family—ah, three extremes: family, oligarchy or a dictatorship, or a dictatorship on the right, or one on the left—very seldom in the center. Now, having said all that, however, as you compare the Latin dictatorships, governments, etc., and their forms of government, they at least do it their way. It is an orderly way, which works relatively well. They have been able to run the damn place. Looking at the black countries, of course, there are only two old ones—Haiti is an old one, and Liberia is a very old one. . . . Ethiopia is a very old one. But they have a helluva time running the place.
Though Christmas is a time of joy, it only leaves me depressed when I realize what a poor job I've done of keeping my enemies list up to date. Every year I resolve to do better, but, what with ordering illegal wiretaps and subverting the Constitution, I just can't seem to find the time. How can I make the holidays special again?
Now, you look at Asia, and you can say, well, what about there? You don't have democracies. Of course, you don't, except Japan, where we imposed it, and the Philippines, and it's a helluva mess. But on the other hand, Thailand, with its oligarchy, has the right kind of government for Thailand. And we have to say, too, that Iran, with the benevolent shah, that's the right thing for those folks.
I could just kick myself. Last year, against my better judgment, I gave my son one of those video-game consoles. Sure enough, after playing all those violent games, he's asking Santa this year for an illegal bombing campaign in Cambodia. I've told him that Santa doesn't grant every wish, especially ones as expensive as that. I've suggested wishing for something more reasonable, like one of those Supersoaker squirt guns or a ground campaign in Laos, but he won't hear of it. Help me, President Nixon; I love my son and want to make his holiday dreams come true.
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I think something that is eventually going to come out here is this, and it's right beneath the surface, this whole black-white deal, is going to come out is the fact that Asians are capable of governing themselves, one way or another. We Caucasians have learned it after slaughtering each other in religious wars and other wars, including in the last century. . . . The Latins do it in a miserable way, but they do it. But the Africans just can't run things. That's a very, very fundamental point. . . . You see them. I have mixed feelings. I receive their ambassadors—they change all the time. I love 'em. They're so kind and so nice, and they're children! They're children!
Aren't you dead?
You look at the World Series, for God's sake, and what would either of these teams, what would Pittsburgh be without a helluva lot of blacks? And music and the dance. Are these things just to be pissed upon? Hell, no.
Hell, no, and a Merry Dickmas, everyone!