Now that the effort to dump Nixon from the Republican ticket has run into strong, public opposition from President Eisenhower himself, the All-American Boy of the Republican Party is apparently destined for the number two spot once again--assuming that both Nixon and the convention nod approval. If liberal Republicans remain silent between now and August, Nixon seems to have a clear path to the nomination.
Even the Democrats are pushing Nixon toward renomination. Many at present are gleefully blasting him as a slanderer, but secretly hope that he will be Ike's running-mate. "Tricky Dicky," they say, is the Republican Party's Achilles Heel, and not many independents are going to vote for a heel, no matter who the President may be. While the Republicans, therefore, want Nixon because they think he can win, the Democrats want Nixon because they think he might cause a Republican defeat.
Both attitudes are discouraging, for both make Nixon the Republican Vice Presidential candidate, and in the likely event of a Republican victory, the Vice President, one heart-beat from the most important elective office in the free world.
The thought of having as President "that wonderful, attractive, honest and good Dick Nixon"--as Helen Hayes put it--is, indeed, frightening. From the start of his political career to his latest free-swinging superlatives about Chief Justice Warren, Nixon has proven that he is out for just one thing: Richard Nixon. Obviously, he now supports the Eisenhower legislative program, but it is virtually impossible to point to a single substantive policy in the past three year's that has been his own. The combined lack of creative leadership and of consistent political principles make Nixon's opportunism dangerous to Eisenhower Republicanism and to the nation.
Eisenhower can probably take substantial credit for effectively silencing McCarthy, and yet Nixon's first campaign was a miniature of McCarthy's tactics. And in 1950, in his successful race for the Senate against Helen Gahagan Douglas, Nixon hid his own record by showing that his opponent had voted 353 times with Representative Vito Marcantonia, and was therefore "soft on Communism." Nixon failed to point out that on most of these votes Marcantonia was merely going along with the Democratic majority, and that on a key issue like Nixon's vote against economic aid to Korea five months before the attack, he had himself joined the isolationists and Marcantonio. Nixon's smear campaigns of 1946 and 1950 hardly jibe with the President's own record in fighting McCarthyism.
Nixon's role in the 1954 campaign is equally far from the President's opposition to smear and slander. At one point, Eisenhower went so far as to say that he hoped the Communists-in-Government issue would not be an issue in the 1954 campaign. Yet Nixon's whole speaking tour was a blatant effort to pin the Red Shirt on the Democrats and show that the Eisenhower Administration had "kicked the Communists out of Government not by the hundreds, but by the thousands." Nixon also revealed that when he came to power in 1953, he "found in the files a blue print for socializing America." He also found a document proving that the Communist Party had secretly decided to operate through the Democratic Party. All of this does not quite amount to calling the Democrats traitors, but it comes so close to McCarthyism that it is surprising and dishearting to find Eisenhower supporting Nixon as his running-mate.
Nor does Nixon's past voting record come near the kind of Eisenhower Republicanism he is now supporting. Eisenhower strongly favors economic aid to under-developed nations, but Nixon not only opposed aid to Korea, (which was defeated by one vote in January, 1950) but he also was absent and unrecorded on Truman's Point Four Program. Eisenhower strongly favors drastic revision of the McCarran-Walter Immigration Act, yet Nixon was one of the Senator's whose vote helped override Truman's veto. Eisenhower strongly favors a liberal, long-term Reciprocal Trade Program, yet Nixon in 1948 voed against a three extension of the trade program.
While this voting record may be only a prelude to the "new" Nixon, one who now supports the United Nations, economic aid, and a liberal trade program, his latest statement on segregation shows that his sense of political expedieney does not always lead him to principles which Eisenhower has supported. After Nixon had dragged the Supreme Court into politics by praising a "great, Republican Chief Justice" for the segregation decision, Eisenhower himself had to repudiate the Vice-President and show that this issue, above all others, must be kept as far from politics as possible. Clearly, Nixon lacks the qualities of statesmanship which are perhaps Eisenhower's greatest strength.
Eisenhower's statesmanship has been the kind that can unify a nation, Nixon's antics are intensely partisan. Eisenhower's policy has been generally liberal; Nixon's real policy is totally elusive. As a quick-change artist of the worst sort, Nixon's entire political career makes current support for Eisenhower's Republicanism highly questionable. There are many independents and even Democrats who would support Eisenhower--but not if Nixon is on the ticket. If the President is really attempting to bring the Republican Party up to date, he had better make sure that his possible successor has principles in which both Eisenhower and the nation can have confidence.