The History of the Modern Republican Party: A Play in One Scene

The time is February 1969. The place is the Oval Office. Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger are alone, seated in chairs. A three-quarters empty bottle of Chivas Regal sits on a table between them. Nixon has been outpacing Kissinger by about three drinks to one.

Nixon: You know, Henry, right now the liberals hate Nixon. They hate me, but I’m going to change that.

Kissinger: How vill you do that, Mr. President.

Nixon: Well, Henry, I’m going to recognize Red China. In fact, I’m going to travel to China and I’m going to drink champagne toasts with Mao, and the liberals are going to say, “That Nixon, he’s not such a bad guy.” They’ll love me, at last.

Kissinger: Perhaps, Mr. President, but I vouldn’t count those chickens before they have hatched, as we say in international politics.

Nixon: And then, Henry, I’m going to set up a special environmental agency to satisfy their concerns about the air and water, and they’ll just eat it up. They’ll say, “Nixon is the one. He’s the man.” The liberals will love me. They’ll finally see me as one of them. I will have arrived.

Kissinger: That vill be quite an accomplishment, but I vouldn’t get your hopes up too high.

Nixon: Next I’m going to end the war in Vietnam. You’ll be key to that, Henry. I want peace with honor. But we’ll get the hell out of there, and the liberals will love me for that, finally ending a war that embarrasses them because their heroes started it. They’ll say, “That Nixon, he’s a man of peace,” and they will finally love me.

Kissinger: It sounds like a plan, Mr. President, and to know you is to love you, for sure, but those who do not expect are never disappointed.

Nixon: But wait, Henry, that’s not all. I know what will drive them wild with Nixon love. Ready? I’m going to finally desegregate the public schools in the South. They’ll love me for it like I was one of their own. They’ll say, “Nixon is our man. Nixon is like a god,” and I’ll have changed the politcal map for all time. Who could deny it?

Kissinger: You make a strong case, Mr. President, but remember that the liberals, right now, are not your friends, and it vill be very difficult to overcome their suspicions.

Nixon: Just one more thing, Henry, and it’s the clincher. For this one the liberals will line up at the door to this office to kiss Nixon’s feet. I’m going to begin a process of reconciliation with the Soviets, a new era of good feelings, if you will. We’ll give it nice a French name, something like…

Kissinger: Detente?

Nixon: Yes, perfect, just like that. I’ll wine and dine Brezhnev. Send them whatever they want. Buy from them whatever they need to sell. And we’ll act just like this Cold War thing isn’t really that big a deal. And the liberals from both coasts, from Manhattan to Los Angeles, and everyone at the New York Times and the Washington Post and all the Ivy League intellectuals, they won’t have enough good things to say about Nixon. They’ll say Nixon is a brother after all. They’ll say Nixon is a jolly good fellow. They’ll love me, Henry.

Kissinger: Vell, perhaps.

Nixon: Let me pour us another one, Henry.

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