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Peter Robinson’s always-interesting Uncommon Knowledge, this week featuring the authors of The Presidents’ Club, includes a great story about Ronald Reagan and Richard Nixon. When President Nixon was told that one of Governor Reagan’s strengths was that he did not care what the New York Times wrote about him, Nixon unconvincingly tried to play me-too, claiming that he didn’t care what the NYT said about him, either, which anyone who knows anything about Nixon knows is not true.
The story reminds me of something Marc Thiessen once told me about his former boss Jesse Helms. When Thiessen brought Helms a draft letter to the editor complaining about something the Times had written about Helms, the Senator responded as follows: “Son, this is fine, and you can print it, but I want you to know that I don’t care what the New York Times writes about me, and nobody I care about cares what they say about me, either.” Try as he might, Nixon could never come close to Helms in the category of Times apathy.