Nixon’s “Election Time”: Like Minds Choose Treason
This example is from 1 Feb 1972. I choose it because it got an embossed reply — embossed in gold mind you — with the Presidential Seal.
Dear President Nixon:
I guess it was about last May that there was talk in the senate about having our troops out of Vietnam by December 1971 if our prisoners of war were released. And now you’re saying that there’s a possibility of having our troops out by election (note) time if our prisoners of war are released. I think that’s a great idea: it’s important to set a date, especially if you want a chance of being reelected.
Well, the other day, the New York Times had an editorial by the famous what’s his name, you know, the historian, Dean Memminger, or Henry Comminer? No doubt your state department people have already thought of this for you, but just in case, I thought I’d write and suggest it. He said that maybe the four year term of office is too short for a president to do anything really good and important, like raise the oil depletion allowances, or increase federal aid to ailing industries. And that politicking for another term is all you really have time for in four years, and that that’s got to tie your hands from doing anything you really believe in. He said that the presidency should be limited to one term, but that the one term should be lengthened to six years. I think it’s a terrific idea and I think you should do it.
Surely some way could be found around those who would object. (I myself remember what it was like to wait out Johnston’s term.)
Anyway, the way it is, you’ve got a chance for another four years, and you’ve got a chance for nothing, nada, the goose egg, to miss out altogether. The possibilities are four and zero, and that averages out to two more years, or the six that you’d get with Memminger’s way. So why not take the sure thing? Then, without taking a risk, and without suffering the embarrassment that Johnston had to put up with, you could still set the date for withdrawal if your prisoners of war are released, still keep it for election year if your prisoners of war are released, but it would be 1974 instead of 1972. You could keep the war going another two years, really whoop it on the gooks, and still keep your promise.
The idea should save you millions of dollars of electioneering money. On the chance that Kissingger hasn’t already thought of it, I do think it would be only fair if you’d share some of the savings with me. If it’s my idea, that is.
P.S. One thing that’s always struck me as curious about the problem over our prisoners of war is why we don’t release them whenever we want to. After all, they’re our prisoners. We got the key. As for their prisoners of war, on the chance it’s their prisoners people are talking about, I don’t think you should release them until ours are. Unless it would save money.
P.P.S. In the last case I mean, of course, release in the Tibetan Buddhist sense. As for those who have already been released in this holy way, I think you could remind them that it’s a good thing for their karma balance. How many human souls are there to be reborn, anyway?
I proposed that Nixon disregard his oath of allegiance to the Constitution and commit an(other) act of tyranny. I proposed that he commit treason. He thanked me on the finest stationary for my “confidence, understanding, and support.”
The New Yorker wrote me, Alas, we cannot print your correspondence with the White House, but we sure enjoyed passing it around the office.
There’s nothing like a free press.
Dean Memminger, by the way was a long-legged rookie for the New York Knicks that year. I trusted at the time that even the White House might be stimulated by my confusions to think of persons such as Henry Steele Commager or Barry Comminer. I no longer recall which of those two penned the idea of a six year term. A perusal of the New York Times from around 1971 should find it.
2006 10 11 I “explain” the circumstances and the comedy of my letter a bit more extensively than ever before at my “NYU” website.
[Sorry: proscribed, censored, by order of US federal court following my arrest and incarceration in 2006: I'll try to find some "legal" way to tell about it]
Spelling things out as simply as possible for academics has never worked for me before (never worked for me with the public either), but I’m still trying.
2008 03 11 Sorry, that’s what got me arrested! I’ll try to figure a way to show them without going back to jail. You see, obviously, they didn’t get the humor: proving how right I am: those academics are almost as stupid as the rest of the kleptocracy’s citizenry.
Election: Critical Timing:
I hope you notice that Nixon’s new promise wasn’t moving the date closer, but was in fact postponing it. My satiric tempo of indefinite postponements followed his lead.
I’ve moved the first paragraphs of this post to an introduction, more here should be edited.
2013 04 19 Explanations shouldn’t be required, but seem to be, I’m not sure anyone has ever gotten the majority of the letter’s most basic jokes:
Prisoners of War
The press was always talking about the release of “our” prisoners of war as a condition for peace. Our prisoners are in our prisons, how can we demand that they be released? By whom? Our soldiers were not our prisoners; they were their prisoners, in their prisons: our soldiers, their prisoners.
And my “release” joke seems permanently beyond us: Christians, however unChristian in fact, simply cannot get Buddhist cosmology: read “releae” to mean murder: releasing a soul from this life on this earth. Imagine a finite (or infinite) number of souls in heaven. Further imagine a law of conservation of souls: a new soul can’t get born till some old soul dies. There are people who believe that; but not Americans.
Someday I’ll rewrite this whole piece, streamlining it.