Centennial birthday wishes, as delivered today at the Nixon Library.
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She grew into a valuable campaign researcher, and she worked at that when Mr. Nixon ran for the Senate and then when he ran for Vice President on the ticket with one of the greatest men of all time, General Dwight Eisenhower of Kansas.
When, in the 1952 campaign, the smear artists started in on Mr. Nixon with completely phony charges of a slush fund of illegal money from wealthy contributors, Mrs. Nixon was by his side, as he was telling the truth, defending the man she loved and the cause she loved: the cause of freedom.
When Mr. Nixon gave his famous Checkers speech explaining that he was far from rich, that he had no slush fund, that he was barely solvent, his beautiful Pat was sitting right next to him. He said some words that are haunting about Mrs. Nixon. He talked about what a fine stenographer she was but that he did not put her on the Senate payroll the way many other Senators did with their wives.
And he added that in their modest circumstances, Mrs. Nixon did not have a mink coat. What she did have was “a respectable Republican cloth coat… and I always tell her she would look good in anything.”
There is a little more to the note about the mink coat than you might think. Some Truman aides had gotten mink coats in return for favors for well-heeled contributors and RN wanted to distinguish his honest way of doing business from that of his opponents. But the point was much bigger than that: Mrs. Nixon was a respectable, hard-working woman. She did not need a fur coat the show off her status. She was a respectable woman and all she needed was a respectable coat that would keep her warm in the cold Washington winters.
That has always seemed to me the essence of Pat Nixon. She did not need to show off. She was such a fine woman that all she needed to do was be who she was. That was plenty.
Mrs. Nixon became the Vice President’s wife. She traveled all over the world to advance the causes of peace and freedom with Mr. Nixon. She went to dangerous places and got rocks thrown at her and had demonstrators spitting at her car in Venezuela.
Nothing stopped her from working for peace and for the cause of freedom.
She raised her daughters and raised them right. Julie has been my friend in particular for a long time. Julie has asked that I not gush over her so I won’t. Julie’s a saint. That’s all I’ll say. Like my wife, Julie’s a saint.
In 1960, Pat Nixon worked as hard as any human can work to help Mr. Nixon get elected. Everyone knows that the election was stolen from the Republicans that year by the Democrat machine in Illinois. Mrs. Nixon was in agony about it, but she abided by Mr. Nixon’s wish not to cause divisions by challenging the result.
The Kennedys, the exalted, mighty, elegant Kennedys, returned the favor by never once inviting the Nixons to the White House.
Time passed. Mrs. Nixon became in 1969 what she should have been in 1961 — First Lady. She was the hardest-working First Lady of the Century. She traveled all over the world, shook millions of hands, went to places like Africa where no First Lady had ever been before. She went to Vietnam and became the first First Lady to fly over a combat zone. She went with Mr. Nixon to Moscow to seek to end the Cold War.
She went to China and charmed Chou En-lai. She came back with two Giant Pandas and a new world order that gave rich promise of a generation of peace. That was always Mr. Nixon’s goal and Mrs. Nixon’s too — and they got it.
All the while, the beautiful people, the pretty people in New York and Hollywood and Washington, were calling Mrs. Nixon names and making fun of her for being square and a loyal wife. In their world, “working” is a joke and so is loyalty to your husband. Not in Mrs. Nixon’s world.
But the mockery did not stop her from traveling the world over helping lepers, helping the starving, helping the blind, helping the elderly. Mrs. Nixon just had too much love in her heart to be delayed in her missions by the mockery of the pretty people and the power players.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
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It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
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