Tuesday, March 13, 2012
The Tenderness of Richard Nixon
Every day and every night I want to see you and be with you. Yet I have no feeling of selfish ownership or jealousy. In fact I should always want you to live just as you wanted — because if you didn’t then you would change and wouldn’t be you. Let’s go for a long ride Sundays; let’s go to the mountains weekends; let’s read books in front of fires; most of all let’s really grow together and find the happiness we know is ours.
With these words, Richard Nixon, a young lawyer and future president of the
United States, won over the heart of Patricia Ryan, a typing and stenography teacher from . What strikes me the most about this letter that the young and love-sick Nixon wrote is not its sincerity, which belied the deceitfulness of an aspiring politician who would go on to create one of the ugliest political scandals in American history – the Watergate; nor its simmering affections, which almost boiled over from every single utterance; nor its tenacity, which perhaps was indicative of the dogged and unyielding political fighter that Nixon eventually turned into in the waning days of his presidency. What really impresses me about this letter is how Nixon, like many of us from the “older generation”, expressed his love for Patricia with some degree of reserve and taciturnity. It’s an art of expression that is literary and poetic; it’s a noble sentiment no longer entertained by modern day courtship which sees subtlety as a nuisance, has no patience for the mastery of spirit over carnal desires, and seeks sex long before the dating couple even meets. Ely, Nevada