How Media Attacks on Trump Echo the Press vs. Nixon: “They Think That All It Takes to be Virtuous Is to Hate Him”

In Charles McCarry’s novel, Second Sight, a famous 1970s television journalist, Patrick Graham, and his wife Charlotte are talking at dinner with David Patchen, head of the CIA, and his wife Martha, a Quaker.

Graham said, “Are you an acquaintance of Dick Nixon, Martha? He was a Quaker, too, wasn’t he?”

“Yes, poor man.”

“You sympathize with him?”

“Yes, of course, they have tormented him so. But I feel even more sorry for his enemies.”

Sorry for his enemies? What was this? Both Grahams were fully alert now.

“You do?” Charlotte said. “Why is that?”

“Because they hate him so that they put their own souls in jeopardy.”

“My dear Martha, what an original way to look at it. I’m not sure I understand what you’re saying.”

“They have made Mr. Nixon stand for evil and they think that all it takes to be virtuous is to hate him. It is the sin of pride. My husband calls it ‘the politics of self-congratulation.’ Nixon arouses something primitive in people. David says Nixon is a Neanderthal among Cro-Magnons; they thought their ancestors had killed them all, and when they saw him and heard him speak they wanted to kill him without knowing why. It was an instinct, a voice from prehistory; he made them remember their own suppressed guilt. If Nixon had looked and sounded like a Kennedy and committed exactly the same crimes, my husband says,  the people who hate him would all love him instead. I don’t know about that, but it’s very sad to hate someone so much that it makes you love all the wrong things.”

Patrick Graham, who had never before been in the same room with someone who was willing to defend Richard Nixon, was visibly shocked and offended by Martha’s words. He turned to Patchen. “Is that what you say?”

“It sounds like me,” Patchen replied, smiling fondly across the table at Martha, who had innocently gone back to her plate of vegetables.

“It’s a good thing you only sound like that in the privacy of your own home,” Graham said.

Charles McCarry was a newspaper reporter in Ohio, a CIA spy in Rome and Geneva, a magazine editor in Washington, and then a novelist.

Comments

  1. BARNARD COLLIER says:

    So on the mark and the money!!!

    Thanks.

Speak Your Mind

*