A few days ago, Fred Malek, a super-successful investor whom we used to refer to in the Nixon days as “Haldeman’s Haldeman” for a time until he went on to bigger and better things in the OMB, called me to invite me to an event.
Secretary Henry A. Kissinger, the foremost expert in foreign policy currently alive, maybe the foremost one since Metternich, has just published a book World Order and he’s coming to the Richard Nixon Library and Birthplace to promote it and to speak. Now, I have so much respect for Dr. Kissinger that I would pay to fly to anywhere to hear him. But he’s right here in Sunny Cal, so I told Fred I would be there with bells on.
And, sure enough, after a nice drive from Beverly Hills with me sleeping in the back seat, our pal Robert driving, and my other pal Phil listening to some horror story about electromagnetic pulses on his headphones, we arrived at the Richard Nixon Library and Birthplace.
It was all decked out for the event, with many photos of RN and Dr. Kissinger in their glory days as they went about the globe using American power, moral uplift, more power, and intelligence to spread oil on the troubled waters of the world. There was a big crowd, but I, your servant, was hustled to a private area where Dr. Kissinger stood, about to give a short speech. It was a shock to see him. The sight of this genius from great days reminded me of the years my father and I spent at the White House, either having lunch or working. I half expected my father, long gone to immortality, to slip in behind the eminent Professor.
Anything redolent of RN gets me worked up because of my extreme love of the man and what he did for the world, for the nation, for Israel, and for our family. I was breathing heavily when Dr. Kissinger gave his brief remarks. He mostly said that America was the only great power without dangerous neighbors on its borders. Instead, we have two great oceans.
Because of them, most U.S. Presidents have not engaged with the world on an ongoing basis and have only applied their attention to the world or had a plan to improve the U.S. position in the world not until after actual hostilities broke out.
The only exceptions, said Dr. K., were Teddy Roosevelt and RN. There was more but the point was similar to a point Warren Buffett often makes about the necessity of having a plan. RN had a plan from day one and that had made him and Dr. Kissinger work smoothly from the moment Prof. Kissinger was hired.
Then we went upstairs to lunch. I sat next to a lovely woman who had gone to the Madeira School, alma mater of my friend, Catherine Rasenberger, a smart tall woman.
My lunch neighbor told me that Madeira, once the world epicenter of WASP privilege, was now about 40 percent nonwhite. I was staggered. I so well remember going to Cathy Rasenberger’s graduation in (what was it?) 1973 or ’74 and seeing one tall beautiful blond girl after another, a dream come true. However, apparently it’s different at Madeira now and God bless ’em.
Dr. Kissinger spoke some more about how thoughtful and “reflective” Mr. Nixon was. He talked about how carefully Nixon thought about everything and how he loved to plan and make lists. He talked about how we for centuries lived in a world of empires. Then came the Peace of Westphalia and nations replaced empires. Now, he fears, we are slipping back into the world of empires. (I kept thinking, “Hey, what about the Soviet Union and Hitler’s Reich? Weren’t those empires? Weren’t those attempts to repeal the Westphalian ideal? And they didn’t happen long ago at all.” But I didn’t say much about it.)
Then came the payoff. The man leading the discussion, a genius named Frank Gannon, asked if it were important to have a sophisticated, complex view of foreign relations.
“Yes, indeed,” said the learned Doctor.
“So, is ‘Don’t do stupid stuff,’ such a strategy?’” asked Mr. Gannon.
“No,” said Dr. Kissinger emphatically, and then he added, “Enough said.” I led the applause.
It was a brilliant but heart-breaking afternoon.
To think that we have replaced the likes of Nixon and Kissinger with Mr. Obama and that fool, Kerry. We have moved way down on the intellectual ladder.
Plus, where is my father?
I slept all afternoon.
Now I am going out for Japanese food.
Oh, what a treasure Dr. Kissinger is. Oh, how guarded are our prospects.
BUT WAIT!!!!I just remembered something. Mr. Gannon asked Dr. Kissinger what young Americans should be taught about America. “We should teach about our great successes and progress and not dwell excessively on the negatives.”
So, I’ll do that and say it’s great how open and cheery America is for anyone who is left here who wants to work. And, again, God bless Dr. Kissinger and this spectacular America and my wife, the summit of human achievement.
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