Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Speaking of moving on and letting go ...

In the post immediately below, I write about a blogger whose unrelenting partisanship can make her posts very ugly (regardless of how many times she quotes Jesus). And it got me thinking about people who get so wrapped up in their hate, they are stuck.

This got me thinking about one of the coolest guys ever, Ben Bradlee, and one of the most uncomfortably formal guys ever, Richard Nixon. No two people could have been more at odds throughout their professional lives than these two. Ben Bradlee, after all, published Woodward and Bernstein. Next to Nixon himself, no one did more to bring down the 37th President than Ben Bradlee.

Yet they managed to be cordial whenever thrown together. One of my favorite stories about Ben Bradlee (whom I admit I was a little in love with) concerns the party he threw for one of his longtime reporters, a man who was retiring from the newspaper business because he was dying of cancer. Everyone who had worked with this reporter agreed he was a great guy, and they wanted this farewell party to be a big, important celebration of the man's life and work.

Throughout this reporter's long career, one of the people he had covered most often and most closely was Richard Nixon. By the time of this party in the mid-1980s, Nixon had long since resigned the Presidency. But two things are eternally true: 1) anyone who has held the Office inspires awe, regardless of how they left it and 2) Richard Nixon and Ben Bradlee are adversaries.

Because of #1, friends of the reporter's wanted Nixon to participate somehow in the party. It would mean so much to their dying comrade. Because of #2, no one thought it likely.

Everyone underestimated both Bradlee and Nixon. During the party at Ben's home, the Bradlee landline rang. When the call was put on speaker, a familiar and oft-imitated voice was heard by all. "They said I would never visit China, but I did," Nixon announced to the room. "And they said I'd never call Ben Bradlee's house, and I just have."

I love this story. The way Bradlee and Nixon got past their massive, historically consequential differences makes me believe anything is possible.

1 comment:

  1. A great story I'd never heard before, and a conclusion very well said! Admirable behavior from both men.