Wish You Were Here
Cottle, Michelle, Newsweek
Byline: michelle cottle
On Nixon's 100th, a[umlaut]Republican faithful party like it's 1972.
this is what nostalgia looks like: It's Jan. 9, and the Grand Ballroom of Washington's storied Mayflower hotel has been decked out for the Richard Nixon Foundation's centennial-birthday gala celebrating the late president, who would have turned 100 today. Reproductions of campaign posters and buttons trumpet slogans like "Had Enough? A vote for Nixon is a vote for change." And "Nixon's the one." Towering screens in the corners of the hall show Nixon photos and quotes through the decades. Some 400 of the president's kin, ex-staff, and enduring fans have powdered, coiffed, and stuffed themselves into their finest party duds, rendering the dining room a sea of dark suits, balding pates, sequins, and fiercely teased hair. Servers wheel out a massive birthday cake in the shape of Nixon's boyhood home in Yorba Linda, Calif.
this is what nostalgia sounds like: Hundreds of attendees sing along to grainy video footage of Nixon playing "Happy Birthday" on the piano. The Rev. Franklin Graham reads a wish-I-could-be-there letter from his ailing father, Billy, who lauds Nixon as "one of my warmest lifelong friends." Legendary Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, his trademark growl grown even more halting with age, extols his former boss's foreign-policy vision. Nixon aide turned pundit and presidential candidate Pat Buchanan takes the room on a historical stroll through the tumultuous 1960s. When guests mingle, the air is filled with "Do you remember ..." and "I haven't seen you since ..." This is definitely your (grand)father's Republican party.
any event dedicated to the unadulterated praise of America's 37th president carries with it a certain cognitive dissonance. Whatever his achievements, Richard Nixon remains, for many Americans, the embodiment of political ambition gone wrong. …