Several years ago, I heard Dick Cavett on TV reminiscing about a dancing class he took in the early 1950s. He said that the teacher had told them that “There is a man in public life whom I would call a ‘motor moron.’ That man is Senator Nixon of California.” Cavett went on to talk about how widely Richard Nixon’s physical awkwardness was remarked on during his career. I can’t find that clip anywhere online, but here’s a blog post of Cavett’s about Nixon. Here’s a clip of him telling a shorter version of the story from that post.
What brings this to mind are this morning’s newspapers, several of which feature a quote from the State of the Union Address President Obama delivered to Congress last night. Evidently Mr O said “We will move forward together or not at all.” Another video clip I wish I could find would be one of Richard Nixon intoning his 1968 campaign slogan, “Let us move forward together.” When Nixon begins, his arms are outstretched in front of him, his hands together. As he says “Let us move forward,” he jerks his arms backward. As he says, “together,” he flings his arms wide. Nixon also famously said in his fourth debate with John Kennedy in 1960 that “This country cannot stand pat.” Considering that Nixon’s wife was named Pat, this was an unfortunate choice of words. I’ve heard it said that he once used this expression while gesturing in the direction of Pat Nixon; I don’t know if that”s true, though it isn’t hard to imagine him doing it.