Donald Trump claims Richard Nixon's "law and order" mantle, which raises a shudder to anyone who lived through Tricky Dick's years.
As his idiotic statements on NATO and Russia, etc., reveals, Trump can't carry Nixon's five O'clock shadow. Nixon, the man who opened up China and reached out to the Soviet Union, was one of the most knowledgeable presidents in the realm of foreign policy. Or at least he did a good job presenting himself as Mr. Global Mastermind.
While Tricky made his bones as a Red hunter, and shredded civil liberties of Vietnam war protesters, his administration looks stunningly liberal when compared with today's GOP platform. He started the EPA, and his revenue sharing program built public works projects in the nation's cities.
After Hillary Clinton's effective address Thursday night, I looked back at John F. Kennedy's 1960 nomination acceptance speech. JFK compared Nixon to Richard II, evoking Henry II's overthrow of the allegedly deformed despot, a Shakespearean reference which would be lost on much of the American public today.
Kennedy also threw a stinging barb at Nixon, which would aptly describe Trump, the new Tricky.
"We know they will invoke the name of Abraham Lincoln on behalf of their candidate," Kennedy said, "despite the fact that the political career of their candidate has often seemed to show charity toward none and malice for all."
Charity toward none and malice for all ... that sums up Trump.
I was also struck by how succinct Kennedy's address was. From Trump's 70-minute "odd" address, to Bill Clinon't rambling trip down memory lane, to President Obama's stirring but overly detailed revery to Hillary Clinton's crowded talk, the speeches went way past an hour, testing the endurance of listeners. Those little girls whom Hillary hoped to inspire had to stay up way past bedtime to watch her historic address.
Of the speeches, first lady Michelle Obama's stirring talk was one of the few that exhibited the once lauded virtue of brevity.
Lincoln's Gettysburg address lasted a few minutes, and he didn't even speak to the convention that nominated him for a second term. He sent a letter.
Watching the speeches, I found it reassuring that with all the political consultants, exorbitant ad spending, polls and high-tech voting analysis, public speaking remains paramount. Writing teacher Roy Peter Clark examined how today's speakers used rhetorical techniques that haven't changed much since the days of Lincoln, George Washington, Cicero, Julius Caesar, Marc Antony, Aristotle and Pericles.
Or, in Trump's case, Attila the Hun.
I was amused that Hillary, following her theme of celebrating women's accomplishments, cited Jacqueline Kennedy quoting JFK.
Seeing Chelsea Clinton introduce her Mom made me wonder why Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg was absent from the convention. I would have loved to have heard John and Jackie Kennedy's daughter speak. Obama's ambassador to Japan would have brought an international perspective as well as evoked women's historical accomplishments with special insight.
Along with Chelsea and Caroline, some great daughters have called the White House home. The Johnson girls, the Nixon girls, the Bush girls, the Obama girls. Amy Carter.
Speaking of Caroline, here's to other notable Democrats forgotten at the convention Adlai Stevenson, Al Gore, Bill Bradley, George McGovern, Michael Dukakis.