Friday 22 July 2011

"I'm not a Crook"

While I have every confidence that those words are true about me, I cannot say the same about the man who so famously uttered them: Richard Milhous Nixon, 37th President of the United States. “Tricky Dick” is, obviously, best remembered for the Watergate scandal and his ensuing resignation, although he does also get credit for his historic visit to China.
Now I wasn’t alive during Nixon’s presidency, and twentieth-century US history is “not my time period,” so this entry isn’t going to be a recap of the Nixon presidency. It also isn’t going to be a recap of the Nixon vice presidency or anything else that he did in politics because that’s boring. You want to know what Nixon did? Ask your parents or grandparents.
Instead, I’m going to take this opportunity to mention the few highlights of what I know about ol’ Tricky Dick. First, he was so hairy he had to shave twice a day. I don’t actually know if this is true (or if it’s some pernicious rumor trying to claim Nixon is the fabled “missing link”), but it cracks me up. Sometimes I think I’m hairy, and it comforts me to think that no matter how hirsute I feel, Nixon was hairier. And he became president! See kids, anyone truly can become president. Excess body hair isn’t debilitating; it’s character building.
When Nixon met his wife, Pat (whose real name was neither Pat nor Patricia), she didn’t really want to date him. Nixon had fallen in love at first sight, though, so when Pat finally went out with him, he pretty much asked her to marry him right then. She thought he was crazy, but married him two years later. In the meantime, Nixon had kept close to her, even driving Pat around on her dates with other men. Now that’s devotion (and a potential technique for stalkers)!
Nixon apparently was a tad paranoid, tended to assume the worst in people, and, consequently, brought out the worst in them. Well, that might help explain Watergate. Anyway, Nixon seems to have run a rather formal White House; according to a New York Times article I read about Betty Ford, the White House staff (housekeepers, butlers, etc) wouldn’t speak much to her and President Ford when they first arrived because the Nixons had insisted on formality and distance. This article placed the blame on both Pat and Richard Nixon, which is interesting when compared with Pat’s Wikipedia page. Wikipedia recounts all of the different volunteer groups Pat brought to the White House, how she helped develop new tour brochures, and how much she liked meeting and greeting people. Weird. Maybe household staff are a different story. Or maybe Wikipedia (gasp!) lies. Who knows?
And in doing my very brief research for this article I discovered that Nixon and his brothers were all (with one exception) named after early kings of England. So Nixon was named after Richard the Lionheart. Totally awesome. I’m not sure the Lionheart would be pleased, though.
So to bastardize a phrase from Stephen Colbert:
Richard Nixon: Dick President or Most Dick President?

Wednesday 6 July 2011

The Coronation of Richard III

         Given my great love of Richard III, it seems only appropriate that I announce that today was his coronation. Instead of his young nephew being crowned as Edward V, Richard was made king of England. The victory was brief, though, for he was killed in battle on 22 August 1485.   
          On 6 July 1483, Richard III was crowned king of England. It was a double coronation, as Richard's wife Anne Neville was also crowned queen. Richard's coronation was kind of a surprise, as no one had really foreseen him being the successor to his brother Edward IV. Edward IV had died in April 1483, and various coronation dates were proposed for his son, Edward V. Originally, Edward V's coronation was supposed to take place in May, but that didn't happen, so June was suggested. Before June was over, Edward IV's marriage to his queen, Elizabeth Woodville, was declared invalid (officially on account of Edward already being married when he married Elizabeth), and their children bastards. This whole series of bastard-declaring seems really strange to modern people because medieval marriage laws were rather different and incredibly detailed. In any event, Richard's nephew was a bastard and with no other legally-suitable heirs, Richard was going to be king. All of this was decided in late June, leaving just a few weeks for the nobles of England to assemble. Not everyone attended the coronation, but many did. Richard became Richard III and started down his path of epic villainy.