Friday, January 26, 2007

The Nixon Interview (Part 3)

Continued from Part 2

Nixon smiled as he held that thought a moment longer, then abruptly frowned and shook his head. "Nah. Wouldn't have worked. I'd need a coordinated strike. Take out Harvard and Columbia, too."

"Mr. President?"

"Agnew always said that if I wanted to fix 90-percent of the country's problems and get an instant jump to a 95-percent approval rating, all I had to do was wipe out Yale Law School, Harvard Business School, and the Columbia School of Journalism. At the end there, I was actually starting to give the idea serious thought."

I couldn't believe what I was hearing. "You're joking, right?"

Nixon stared me straight in the eye. "Do I look like I'm joking?"

He held that stare a moment longer, then cracked up, leaned back, and laughed. "Had you going there, didn't I? Yes, of course I'm joking. That was always one of my strongest assets; a world-class poker face. That's how I financed my first run for Congress, you know; on the bankroll I built up playing poker in the Navy. Man, I cleaned out those swabbies all over the South Pacific!" He allowed himself a last chuckle, then shook his head again. "Can't understand why it didn't work for Kerry." He paused a moment, and let out a long sigh.

"All the same, Liddy was working up a target list for me. But it got too long: UC-Berkeley, UW-Madison, all the Ivy League schools... Kent State wasn't even on the list. I have no idea what the hell happened there." He shook his head.

Nixon pointed at me and fixed me with that stare again. "To this day, people still talk about my enemies list. That was peanuts compared to the enemy schools list. That part of VENONA still hasn't been declassified; the names of the American university professors who were on the KGB payroll — and worse, the ones who were working for the Soviets for free. There was no way to get them all, short of calling Curt LeMay out of retirement and carpet-bombing the entire Atlantic seaboard, and then — poof! — there goes your secrecy."

I was back to hoping that he was joking.

"You know," Nixon said, almost jovially, "there's a special place in the Eighth Circle of Hell for college professors who deliberately subvert and corrupt their students. But any American student fool enough to die while wearing a Che Guevara t-shirt goes straight to the Ninth Circle."

I was really hoping he was joking.

The jovial mood switched off; he pursed his lips and frowned again. "The ironic part is, we could do it now. With the programs Curt LeMay saved from McNamara and Congress, and the programs I got rolling that we managed to keep secret from Carter, we could actually do it now. One executive order, one agreeable Naval commander, three Tomahawks — POW! POW! POW! Columbia Journalism, Harvard Business, and Yale Law. Hell, target Yale with a fourth missile, just to make sure we get Skull and Bones."

I couldn't keep quiet any longer. "Mr. President! I can understand Columbia, but what have you got against Harvard Business?"

He looked at me. "Oh, that's right, your brother is a Harvard MBA, isn't he?" He nodded. "Look, it's nothing personal. It's just that cut-throat capitalists and red-diaper communists are symbiotic." He entwined his fingers together. "Each one produces the other, almost like an immune response. Teddy Roosevelt discovered that. It was his run-ins with the laissez-faire robber barons of the 19th century that turned him into a 20th century progressive, and damned near a socialist. Luckily, he didn't start reading Croly until after he was out of office.

"But in America, in the 20th century, nothing epitomizes that worker-be-damned bottom line ├╝ber alles mentality like the teachings of the Harvard Business School. There is no faster way to produce lots of cranky little socialists than to put them under the direct control of a Harvard Business School graduate!"

It was my turn to nod. "Okay, I'll buy that. So what have you got against Yale?"

"Well," Nixon said, "that brings us back to Bush family, doesn't it? But before we get to that: what was your impression of Junior's State of the Union address?"

I drew a deep breath, blew it out, settled back in my chair, and thought it over. "I couldn't help noticing that he spent most of the speech looking over at the Democratic side," I said at last.

"Like a man in a leaky lifeboat?" Nixon suggested. "Doing the mental arithmetic, and figuring out just how many of his friends he needs to throw to the sharks in order to keep them satisfied until he's rescued?"

Continued in Part 4