Ronnie Howard has a new movie out, “Frost – Nixon” and it is a pretty good movie. I am not a movie critic, I know what I like and what I do not like, and this movie is okay – So/So. Strange, but Ron Howard (Opie) has been in the business some fifty years now, it just doesn’t seem like this is possible.
Richard Nixon, it turns out, was a druggie. Unfortunately, Nixon took the wrong drug. If he had smoked pot, he would have sat around with Spiro saying “Oh, wow” and eating chips Ahoy cookies instead of ordering bombings of Cambodia and Laos. If he had taken acid, instead of taping conversations and ordering break-ins, he’d have watched the Oval Office wallpaper move and change colors.
What drug did Nixon take?
Dilantin, given to him by a friend named Jack Dreyfus. Dreyfus, the founder of the Dreyfus Fund, was bullish on Dilantin and gave Nixon a big bottle of it, claiming it could fix all kinds of mood and behavior problems. Basically, though, Dilantin is an anti-convulsant, a drug that did little to help a neurotic Nixon through a convulsive presidency.
Oh, if only Dreyfus had been ahead of his time and given Nixon a big bottle of Ecstasy. Nixon would have loved everyone, especially Pat. There could possibly have never been an enemies list.
Another surprise is that Nixon actually saw a psychiatrist in 1970 because he was depressed by the hostile public reaction to his invasion of Cambodia. The shrink considered him “neurotic” no big surprise there, and for only $150 an hour. The surprising part is that our anger and demonstrations had any effect on Nixon at all.
The movie provides you plenty of reasons to hate Nixon and very important reasons. Nixon secretly went behind Lyndon Johnson’s back to sabotage peace talks in Vietnam. Let’s face it. No drug in the world could cure a snake like Nixon. Whenever I start to feel something other than contempt for Nixon, or start talking about how liberal he was compared to present day Republicans, something comes out that makes Nixon actually look worse than he did when he was alive.
For me it was so hard to believe that Nixon was so power-hungry that he lengthened the war in Vietnam, possibly killing tens of thousands of Americans and hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese, by conniving with President Thieu of South Vietnam to resist Johnson’s peace talks.
It would be hard for us to believe that about anyone else, but this was Nixon. When many of you were young, we considered Nixon a traitor to American Ideals. We had no idea how literally traitorous he was.
Some towards the end were actually talking about whether or not he was sane. In 1969, Nixon used his own “madman theory” to scare the Soviets into believing, as his messenger to Moscow Leonard Garment put it, that he was a “dramatically disjointed personality.” Which is a nice way of saying just a little bit off center, more than a little paranoid and when necessary, was thoroughly convinced that he could be a cold hearted butcher. What is sad, is years later, in retrospect, everything that Garment told the Soviets about Nixon, turned out to be basically true.
We don’t have a living Nixon to kick around anymore, but we can still set our political compasses by the Nixon record. The lesson we can all take from Mr. Nixon is that history shows us that politicians are never to be trusted. To stop hating them is a mistake, you should instead, trust your instincts. If a politician seems sneaky, he probably is. If he seems neurotic and anxious, he probably is. Nixon seemed like all these things to many voters of his time, and yet he got elected.
Why? People were sick of a war, and wanted to believe he had a plan that would provide “peace with honor.”
Nixon didn’t know what he meant, and he even believed the war was un-winnable. But he conned people because they wanted to be conned into believing that he could end the war. So, in all this if you find yourself wondering if a certain politician is “as dumb as they say he is” it is probably because he is. If it feels like he is conning you or lying to you, he probably is.
Compared to King George Dubya, poor Mr. Nixon comes off as a mere school boy, not an elder statesman of the world. And when Bush is done writing his particular version of history, they will all pale in comparison, watch n see.
If fiction is your bag, then you will be alright with this flick. It’s an okay movie I guess, like I said, I am not a movie critic. You can check it out this weekend, relive another time and place, sit in the dark and eat popcorn or wait on the DVD and save a buck or two. It surely isn’t Oscar Material that is about what I gathered about it.