It was a bit surprising that my father, well to the left politically, admired Richard Nixon, but it had to do with that period to the end of his presidency when he showed a lot of guts in trying to stay in office.
Two other men are admirers of Nixon, both of whom are as unlike my father as chalk is to cheese, or as left is to right: Jonathan Aitken and Lord Black both of whom have written biographies of Nixon, and both of whom have been convicted of crimes, one having already served his sentence, the other probably about to.
I never liked the guy. Yet I felt a kindling of admiration when I read the following report on Nixon reminiscing at San Clemente shortly after his resignation:
"What starts the process really are the laughs and snubs and slights you get when you are a kid. Sometimes it's because you're poor or Irish or Jewish or ugly, or simply that you are skinny. But if you are reasonably intelligent and if your anger is deep enough and strong enough, you learn that you can change those attitudes by excellence, personal gut performance, while those who have everything are sitting on their fat buts....
When you get to the top you find you can't stop playing the game the way you've always played it because it is part of you and you need it as much as you do an arm or a leg. So you are lean and mean and resourceful and you continue to walk on the edge of the precipice because over the years you have become fascinated by how close to the edge you can walk without losing your balance."
The reporter who wrote this added: "With Nixon, the anger ran so deep it never left him. He was the angriest American president."