Nixon’s back! (At least on Twitter)
NEW YORK — If you believe the media reports, Richard Nixon suffered a stroke in 1994 and died days later at age 81. He is buried in his native Yorba Linda, California, silent as the country marks the 40th anniversary of his resignation.
But the many obsessives among the 7,000-plus followers of Dick—Nixon couldn’t be blamed for sharing the president’s suspicion of reporters.
The “Nixon” on this Twitter feed has never been more alive, sounding off about everything from the Russians to the Academy Awards, lashing out at old enemies and sizing up such possible presidential contenders as Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida.
“He is a smart fellow. But he should stop swinging at pitches he can’t hit yet,” reads a recent tweet.
The Dick—Nixon feed is neither tribute nor parody but an uncanny reincarnation that has some Washington insiders and political junkies marveling that someone could so well captured the phrasing, savvy, tenacity, profanity and world view of the 37th president.
“He has his voice and his mentality down cold. And he also makes me laugh,” said Elizabeth Drew, an author and journalist whose Watergate-era book, “Washington Journal,” was reissued in May.
“I never got to meet Nixon, so this is the next best thing for me,” said author and journalist Robert Draper, who has written books about Congress and the George W. Bush administration and is the grandson of Watergate prosecutor Leon Jaworski.
Admirers have speculated the account manager is a politician, a journalist or even a member of the Nixon family. But Twitter “Nixon” is, apparently, 33-year-old playwright and New York resident Justin Sherin, born years after the president left office.
Drew has met him and befriended him. John Weaver, a Republican strategist who worked on the 2000 and 2008 presidential campaigns of Sen. John McCain, said that he had spoken with Sherin. Drew and Weaver are among his followers.
During a recent interview at a bar in Grand Central Station, Sherin said he had long been fascinated by Nixon and his “weird” and “convoluted” way of expressing himself. In 2008, he began tweeting excerpts from Nixon’s taped White House conversations. About four years later, he decided to bring the former president into the 21st century, combining historical and original material.
“I try very hard either to use something that he did say in a similar context or that I could argue he would have said when faced with such a situation,” said the clean-cut, round-eyed Sherin, whose plays include “Mickey Mouse Is Dead,” a 2006 off-Broadway production about McCarthy-era blacklisting at the Walt Disney studios.
The former president and his wife, Pat (also dead, or so we’ve been told), reside on Twitter, as they did on Earth, in Saddle River, New Jersey. The president makes occasional trips to Washington and vacations in Key Biscayne, Florida. Some messages are initialed by former White House press secretary Ron Ziegler, who supposedly joined the afterlife in 2003.
Nixon on Twitter is impressed with Hillary Clinton (“She is cold, cold, tough as hell. That is the good side”) and dismayed by President Barack Obama. (“The current president strikes me as a fellow who is reading from a book written by a lot of Ivy Leaguers who’ve never been to Moscow”). He is grateful for his supporters, seething that he doesn’t have a deal for his latest book, “Realism,” and mindful of his eternal rivals, the Kennedys
“Teddy had the best political skills out of any of them. Jack would rather be in the pool, Bobby burned witches,” he tweeted.
On the Nixon feed, you get the calculating Nixon (“The ecology thing is crap for clowns. But there’s votes in it”). You get Nixon on gays (“Our granddaughter is an actress. So many people in that line are gay. We go to the plays, shake their hands. They seem happy”), and Nixon on American cities (“Have you been to Tampa? My God. Nothing but Cubans and houses of prostitution).”
“He seems to know everything there is about Nixon,” Weaver said of Sherin. “He also has the president’s keen political analytical skills, and he has that streak within Nixon that undid the president.”
The newest Nixon is understandably preoccupied with the current anniversary. (Nixon resigned Aug. 9, 1974.) He has blunt words for his former aide and whistleblower, John Dean (“He knows how to lie. Why do you think we judged him effective?”) and for the newspaper that broke the Watergate scandal, The Washington Post — now owned by Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos — and star reporter Bob Woodward.
“Woodward still gets a check from the Post, you know,” Nixon observed. “I was not aware that Bezos enjoys paying fellows who don’t work.”
Call him names, if you will. The president only gets angry with those he respects.
Just don’t call him finished.
“All these bastards saying how young they are,” he tweeted last month. “We’re still here, by God. We’ll outlive you all.”
Rules for posting comments
Comments posted below are from readers. In no way do they represent the view of Oahu Publishing Inc. or this newspaper. This is a public forum.
Comments may be monitored for inappropriate content but the newspaper is under no obligation to do so. Comment posters are solely responsible under the Communications Decency Act for comments posted on this Web site. Oahu Publishing Inc. is not liable for messages from third parties.
IP and email addresses of persons who post are not treated as confidential records and will be disclosed in response to valid legal process.
Do not post:
- Potentially libelous statements or damaging innuendo.
- Obscene, explicit, or racist language.
- Copyrighted materials of any sort without the express permission of the copyright holder.
- Personal attacks, insults or threats.
- The use of another person's real name to disguise your identity.
- Comments unrelated to the story.
If you believe that a commenter has not followed these guidelines, please click the FLAG icon below the comment.