I have two items for my write-up today on Stephen Ambrose’s Nixon: The Education of a Politician.
1. On page 301, we read: “Following the election [in 1952], Nixon flew to Miami for a vacation. He stayed at the home of Charles ‘Bebe’ Rebozo in Key Biscayne. Rebozo took Nixon fishing and to a University of Miami football game. He introduced Nixon to Key Biscayne society. The two men went for long walks on the beach together. Rebozo was the perfect companion for an exhausted politician. He never introduced a subject, never volunteered an opinion, never argued. ‘Bebe Robozo is the only person Nixon can relax with,’ one close observer said, ‘particularly when he’s under pressure. He’s the only person Nixon really trusts.'”
I like this passage. I can’t say that I am a friend like this, for I myself can be rather argumentative, especially when I hear something with which I disagree. Would I like to have a friend like this? I can understand the appeal. Rebozo sounds like a nice, low-key guy who just let his friends be. If they wanted to talk, then he would listen. If they wanted to be quiet, he was still there. He was an accepting presence, and it would be easy to relax around such a person. But doesn’t one need friends who would challenge, since that helps one to grow? Heck, Nixon was challenged all the time in the political arena! It was nice that he got a chance to relax with someone, every now and then.
And, in case you’re wondering, yes, there have been rumors about Rebozo and Nixon’s relationship with him (see here).
2. On pages 307-308, there is an interesting and funny story about Pat Nixon:
“In public, especially when reporters were around, she was tightly controlled, always smiling but with nothing to say. But in private, with people she trusted, she relaxed, told jokes, teased her husband. Earl and Rita Mazo became good friends; Mazo found her ‘a very haimisheh girl,’ a Yiddish word meaning informal, unpretentious, warm. He recalled the time Nixon was pontificating in his study when Pat walked in with a tray. ‘Try some of these,’ she said. ‘They’re better than that baloney he’s handing out.'”
In an episode of Family Ties, Nixon-admirer Alex Keaton seemed to regard Pat Nixon as his ideal woman: warm, docile, etc. Actually, it appears that she could get quite saucy!