The Striking Contradictions of Richard Nixon's Inauguration 50 Years Ago, as Observed by Hunter S. ThompsonBreaking News
tags: inauguration, Richard Nixon, political history, presidential history, Hunter S. Thompson
Fifty years ago Sunday, Richard Milhous Nixon descended the steps at the Capitol’s East Portico to become the 37th president of the United States.
“The greatest honor history can bestow is the title of peacemaker,” he proclaimed. “When we listen to ‘the better angels of our nature,’ we find that they celebrate the simple things, the basic things—such as goodness, decency, love, kindness.”
Overhead, the low Atlantic sky was the color of wet concrete, threatening rain. “For its part,” Nixon said at the end of his address, “government will listen. We will strive to listen in new ways.” Then he got into his enormous bulletproof Lincoln limousine and kicked off the inaugural parade, which would take him within a literal stone’s throw of the thousands of protesters who lined the winter streets.
Members of the national press had also posted up along the parade route. Among them was Hunter S. Thompson, a 31-year-old freelance journalist fresh off the success of his first book, Hell’s Angels; he’d made the trip east from Colorado to cover the inauguration for the Boston Globe’s weekend magazine. By this point Thompson had been writing about Nixon for nearly a decade, and from the start he’d understood exactly what it was that made this particular politician so dangerous: an innate and sinister talent for deception that the American electorate, when presented over and over again with its unabashed used-car-salesman tenor, somehow kept mistaking for an entirely different trait—ambition.
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