For my blog post today about Monica Crowley’s Nixon in Winter, I’ll highlight something on page 110. Richard Nixon, Monica Crowley, and Joseph Crowley (Nixon’s private security escort) are in Moscow in the 1990’s, walking around the grounds of the guesthouse. Nixon tells Monica that, if she wants to talk in Russia, she has to do so outside, due to bugging. Monica asks, “Even in a newly democratic Russia?”, and Nixon laughingly responds, “I know about bugging. Democracies are the worst!” Monica then narrates:
“Since [Nixon] had wanted to think about the next day’s meeting with Yeltsin, we walked the rest of the way in silence. Crowley and I tossed some snowballs at each other, narrowly missing the former president, who bent down, made a snowball of his own and lobbed it at us.” Nixon then said, “Enough fun and games”, and proceeded to talk with Monica about her tasks in Russia.
I liked this part, for it shows Nixon playing! Is this believable? Well, on the one hand, Stephen Ambrose depicts Nixon as somewhat of a stuffed shirt. Nixon often wore a tie, even when he was at home. Nixon said that his friend Bebe Rebozo addressed him as “Mr. President.” Nixon was not that big on watching TV. Some of the things that Monica says about Nixon are consistent with this picture (though she doesn’t call Nixon a stuffed shirt, and neither, for that matter, does Ambrose, even though he portrays Nixon as the serious type). On the other hand, Nixon did enjoy the company of his grandchildren. And Nixon was also competitive and loved sports. That being the case, I can easily picture Nixon lobbing a snowball after being nearly hit! And maybe, just maybe, Nixon loosened up and played more in his older years, at least sometimes!