I‘LL FOREVER BE SURPRISED by current day apologists of Richard Nixon, who are able (much like admirers of John Kennedy and Bill Clinton) to side-step quite a bit of nastiness to put forward the triumphs — in this case concerning China and the Soviet Union and the often cited “détente.” And indeed this was the chief tactic of Nixon himself, who discounted the Watergate disclosures and who preferred to talk instead about his efforts “to build peace in the world.”
THERE ARE A few rules to which I’ve held myself as a professional speech writer. Do your homework, know and respect your audience and the protocols governing the occasion, and always prefer the plain truth that will not please your audience over nice-sounding and gratifying words that aren’t so. Or, as I’ve had occasion to summarize: it’s better to deliver bad news that you can guarantee than it is good news that you are confident you can’t.
It wasn’t long ago that one would hear it said the world will be a different place when women are in charge. But then came the masculine regimes of Indira Gandhi — from whom a politician as dirty and ruthless as Richard Nixon recoiled — and Margaret Thatcher. From then forward, the essentialist claim that female leadership is distinct from its male counterpart could be put forward only with laboured qualifications and irony.
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