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Poisoned political discourse, Gonzo journalism & Rock n Roll: The Strange Existence Of Richard Milhous Nixon

“He has poisoned our water forever. Nixon will be remembered as a classic case of a smart man shitting in his own nest. But he also shit in our nests, and that was the crime that history will burn on his memory like a brand. By disgracing and degrading the Presidency of the United States, by fleeing the White House like a diseased cur, Richard Nixon broke the heart of the American Dream.”

Hunter S Thompson, ‘He Was A Crook’

Earlier in the year, whilst furloughed from work in the midst of the pandemic, I read through Fear and Loathing at Rolling Stone: The Essential Hunter S. Thompson. One of the most striking pieces in the book, for me, was the obituary he wrote for Rolling Stone following the death of disgraced Republican former president, & in many ways Thompson’s arch-enemy, Richard Milhous Nixon (Reprinted in The Atlantic here). The most striking thing about this article, here, in the year of our lord 2020, is that the poison that Nixon poured into the political discourse is what has, inexorably, lead to the batshit chaos of American politics today. The normalisation of lawbreaking by public figures, at least in the public eye, is probably the primary building block which lead to the incumbent Republican, criminal, president Donald J Trump. Unlike Nixon, however, Trump didn’t have the weasel cunning to jump ship, to resign, rather than face impeachment. As such the stain of being an impeached president will forever linger on his record.

The pardoning of Nixon in light of his many criminal acts, is perhaps the single greatest mistake made in US history. Had Nixon been convicted & imprisoned for his lawbreaking, perhaps the crass opportunism of Trump wouldn’t have turned so many heads in the 2016 election. This is all by the by, however, Trump’s opportunism isn’t his worse crime. He is merely a toxic byproduct of Reaganism/Thatcherism, a poisoned outflow. His greatest crime is the enormous amount of fraud & tax evasion he has committed o=ver the years to hide his greatest flaw, his lack of ability in business. Ironically, he presents his business acuity as his greatest strength, despite the wreckage of his many bankrupt business ventures littering the highway behind him. Richard Milhous Nixon normalised this use of criminal acts by a public figure, & normalised the notion of the said public figure then being able to ascend to the lands highest office.

The main reason, however, for my thinking about Nixon today, is that I heard the excellent hit single The Love Of Richard Nixon by Manic Street Preachers on YouTube earlier & decided that I’d put together a blogpost of artwork, pics & links about the both the song & the Hunter S Thompson article. The video & artwork are excellent & the song is extremely different to much of the Manic’s catalogue up until that point. Driven by synth sounds & motorik rhythms, The Love Of Richard Nixon resembles artists like Depeche Mode more than the usual list of Manics influences. Over this New Wave/Post Punk sound, singer James Dean Bradfield treats the lyrics with a wonderful vocal performance. According to one YouTube commenter, “it is loaded with wit, pathos, irony and humour.”

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