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Winston and Tricky Dickie-an uncanny parallel

September 16, 2008

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Scoopit!

Inventory2 at Keeping Stock blogged today ‘Honest Winston’ on the classic piece of political attack advertising by John F Kennedy when running for the Presidency against Richard Nixon in 1960 – A picture of Nixon with 5 o’clock shadow with the caption ‘Would you buy a used car from this man?’. The phrase was used in later years as well.

The Democratic attack poster from 1960

The Democratic attack poster from 1960

But what struck a chord in the Smith memory banks was in fact an earlier episode in Nixon’s career. The famous or perhaps more appropriately the infamous Checkers speech.

For those who do not remember this:-

The “Checkers speech” was given by Richard Nixon on September 23, 1952, when he was the Republican candidate for the Vice Presidency. The speech, broadcast nationwide from the El Capitan Theatre in Hollywood,[1] was one of the first political uses of television to appeal directly to the populace.

Nixon, having been accused of accepting $18,000 (about $140,000 in 2007 dollars) in illegal campaign contributions, gave a live address to the nation in which he revealed the results of an independent audit that was conducted on his finances, exonerating him of any malfeasance. The money, he asserted, did not go to him for personal use, nor did it count as income, but rather as reimbursement for expenses. He followed with a complete financial history of his personal assets, finances, and debts, including his mortgages, life insurance, and loans, all of which had the effect of painting him as living a rather austere lifestyle. He denied that his wife Pat had a mink coat; instead, she wore a “respectable Republican cloth coat.”

The one contribution he admitted receiving was from a Texas traveling salesman named Lou Carrol who gave his family an American Cocker Spaniel, which his daughter named “Checkers.” [2] Nixon admitted that this gift could be made into an issue by some, but maintained that he didn’t care, stating “the kids, like all kids, love the dog and I just want to say this right now, that regardless of what they say about it, we’re gonna keep it.” Later, when asked about Nixon’s performance, some Dwight Eisenhower campaign insiders joked, “We’re keeping the dog.” (Wikipedia)

What is interesting here is the uncanny parallel between the Nixon problems and the Winston problem. Nixon brazened it out, through fronting the issue and in fact turned the issue around on his detractors.

Peters has not fronted and has taken refuge in bluster and obfuscation.

Adam suggests that it is now too late to buy a dog. The time to do a ‘Nixon’ was at the beginning.

It is interesting though how history appears to have repeated itself though.

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