Celebrating the great Richard Nixon at the Mayflower.
Up in the morning here at the Watergate for a long e-mail exchange with my smart friend, Cathy Rasenberger, on the subject of Al Jazeera’s planned purchase of Al Gore’s “Current” unsuccessful cable system. Cathy, a friend for close to four decades, literally since she was a student at Madeira, is now an extremely able and accomplished guru in the world of TV, and cable in particular.
Without dwelling on Al Gore and his personality, we talked about the economics of the deal. She explained that the relevant number was not how many people were watching “Current” now but how many households could potentially watch it. By that measure, said Cathy, the price paid by Al Jazeera is not excessive. It would be difficult and extremely time consuming for Al Jazeera to build up to as many households as Current potentially reaches right now, she explained, and perhaps impossible.
By shelling out $500 mill right now, Al Jazeera gets those households in one fell swoop.
Plus, Cathy said, Al Jazeera was a far fairer and more balanced news entity than I gave it credit for.
As I said, I have known her for a long time, know her to be extremely fair minded and competent, so let us wait and watch about the subject for a time. I am happy to learn new facts, and I guess I have now.
Then, off to CNN to do a short interview. The highlight was running into Wolf Blitzer. He has a major, pivotal role in Skyfall and I told him I had seen it nine times and always got a thrill out of seeing him on the screen. He was obviously extremely happy to have been in the movie, as well he might have been.
He pointed out that his scene in the movie is key — I won’t tell you how — and was pleased to have been so helpful to James Bond.
Then, a lightning trip to the National Gallery of Art. Then, back home for a haircut. I have been going to the Watergate Barber Shop for about forty years now and I feel comfortable there. The barbers all cut my father’s hair before me, and they can recall exactly their conversations with him about the Redskins, the poor doomed Redskins.
Then a nap, and then Alex and I raced off to The Mayflower Hotel on Connecticut Avenue, NW, to attend the Centenary of Richard Nixon’s birth, a celebration of Nixon hands from long ago honoring the greatest peacemaker America has ever known.
I was exploding with emotion as Alex and I walked into the hallway of the Mayflower. I remembered walking in there with my Pop to see a Cadillac with gold trim from the movie, The Solid Gold Cadillac, and also seeing preparations being made for Ike’s inauguration in 1953. (My father held me on his shoulders to watch Ike go by in a Lincoln convertible, if I recall correctly.) Long time passing. How I wish my father were alive. I wish I wish I wish.
There were cocktails in a large reception room. I saw my mentor and kind guardian, former Commerce Secretary and kind heart, Fred Dent; old pal and war hero, and helper in life, Peter Flanigan and his lovely wife; my great friend Ken Khachigian and his Meredith and two lovely daughters; Aram Bakshian, world’s smartest human; and many others whom I remembered more or less well from Nixon White House days.
The men and women in the room were uniformly intelligent looking, alert, friendly, but much more than that — they looked sane.
More and more I notice that at airports and shopping centers, the other people look insane and frantic. I guess I do, too. But these men and women looked relaxed, happy, content. Different by far from what I usually see in L.A., very different from what I see in Malibu, but oddly similar to what I see in Sandpoint, Idaho.
Off at the corner of my eye was Henry A. Kissinger, getting a lot of attention from the press and autograph seekers. He looked cheerful.
Then the lights flashed and some men rang a chime, and we all went across the hall to dinner. It was in a room where I have spoken in the past. We found our table, and then out of the blue appeared my dear pal, Phil DeMuth. Now, talk about an astoundingly great friend: Phil had a head cold, but even so, had flown all the way from LAX just for this event, arriving just in time to get to it before we even did, but out of sight at the cocktail hour. With him was his wonderful brother, Chris, and his charming sister in law, Susan. Chris was head of the AEI for dogs’ years and has been a fantastically good friend to the Steins. (He and AEI threw an 80th birthday party for my father that Pop called “the happiest day of his life.”) Also at our table were wonderful Wlady and his lovely wife, Joanna.
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