Weekend Sadness - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
Weekend Sadness
President Richard Nixon and Premier Chou En-lai on Feb. 21, 1972 (Wikimedia Commons)

I had a disastrous night last night. The woman who is the closest to me of any human on earth had a wild panic attack while watching Perry Mason. It was terrifying. She was shaking like a leaf in a storm. Her nurse and I drugged her as well as we could and put her to sleep, but this morning she is still shaking.

I woke up with tears in my eyes, tears rolling down my cheeks, and I thought of my father and how much I missed him. I had the greatest good fortune any man could want. In 1973-74, thanks largely to Peter M. Flanigan, a genuine saint, I worked in the Executive Office Building, really part of the White House as a speechwriter for Mr. Nixon and sometimes also for Anne Armstrong. My father worked two stories above me in a huge office with a working fireplace. He was first a member then Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers.

We had lunch together in the White House “Mess,” actually a super elegant restaurant run by the Navy, two or three days a week. Only men and women of Cabinet rank or above could eat there.

Every single person in the room was famous. The only one who looked Too Cool for School was John Dean, White House Counsel. He had a simply beautiful wife with him. But my girlfriend, Pat K., a statistical clerk under Frances James, head of research for the CEA, was by far the most beautiful girl at the White House except for Julie Nixon Eisenhower and her glamorous sister, Tricia.

Pop and I talked about the terrible slanders the media was heaping upon RN. The amazing thing was that the leader of the pack as far as criticism of Mr. Nixon was my boyhood next-door neighbor (literally next door) Carl Mark Bernstein.

To me, RN was the greatest President of all of the 20th century. He made peace with China, and saved Israel from the Russians by going to DEF Con 3, which told the Russians we were about to use nukes against them if they invaded Israel or attacked the IDF once it was encircling Cairo. How any Jew on this earth could not love RN was totally beyond me.

No other world leader has ever gone to the lengths and risks Mr. Nixon did to save the Jews. But, incredibly, some fools took a few meaningless jibes against Jews — jokes of trivial significance — to make RN out to be an anti-Semite.

In fact, he was the greatest friend of the Jewish people there has ever been. God bless him and his family for all eternity.

I am still close friends with Julie, and I consider her an actual goddess.

Anyway, day after day Pop and I would talk about how bad things looked for RN. I was terrified because Pat had talked me into buying a tiny house in Wesley Heights. I could ill afford it, and if Mr. Nixon left office, and I lost my job, how would I survive? In the event, Mr. Nixon, a god in my house, was kicked out of office for no reason at all except that it was a “media coup,” as my sainted mother called it.

I was indeed fired, by none other than Don Rumsfeld. He was good to me about it, though, and promised to find me a job high up in the bureaucracy.

In the event, the great Bob Bartley hired me to be a columnist and editorial writer for the Wall Street Journal. I hated the office but the people in it were good to me, especially Mr. Bartley. He took me out to lunch and raved about my abilities as a writer. Nevertheless, I went to Hollywood, where I wrote novels, nonfiction, and scripts for Norman Lear and Al Burton. Al became the best friend I ever had, but died about five years ago. I had no idea I would become a famous actor.

How could I have ever been so blessed? I still miss my Pop like the cut of a razor every day. He was so good to me it’s almost unbelievable.

One day when I was stuck on a stat for a speech, I went to see him and asked, “If you have nothing more important to do, could you find out the unemployment rate in November 1941?”

My father drew a huge drag from his Kent, and asked, “What do you think I have to do that’s more important than helping my only son?”

Now you see why I wake up in tears almost 25 years after he died while I held his hand and read him the Psalms.

Ben Stein
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Ben Stein is a writer, actor, economist, and lawyer living in Beverly Hills and Malibu. He writes “Ben Stein’s Diary” for every issue of The American Spectator.
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