The Twentieth-Century American West: A Potpourri

The Twentieth-Century American West: A Potpourri

The Twentieth-Century American West: A Potpourri

The Twentieth-Century American West: A Potpourri

Excerpt

A reporter and a politician boarded together a United Air Lines plane at the Los Angeles International Airport for a flight to San Francisco. The reporter welcomed the opportunity to have the former vice-president, recent presidential aspirant, and then-current California gubernatorial candidate to himself for a couple of hours. In turn, Richard Nixon appears to have looked forward to a relaxed informal conversation as they flew north. After a half hour or so of discussing the issues in the California campaign, Nixon began an analysis of Californians and their way of life. On the one hand, he saw his fellow citizens as hard-driving, forceful, "go-ahead people." He found much in their pattern of living that he could approve, even applaud. On the other hand, he discerned an erosion of the Puritan ethic. Life was almost too good: too much sun and leisure, a place where one could play golf every day under sunny skies; the result, the former vice- president put it quite bluntly, was simply that "some of our more creative people are not creating as much as they should." As another indication of the mañana malaise, he found a go- as-you-wish pace in the intellectual atmosphere. As he listened to his fellow Californians he heard a basic intellectual shallowness. He confided to Neil Morgan, his journalist seatmate, that after returning to Los Angeles from years in the East, he and Mrs. Nixon had been shocked to hear the banality of subjects under discussion at dinner parties and other social occasions. How really terribly "unsophisticated the conversational pace and the intellectual pace" seemed to the Nixons.

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