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The Good Times

Baker, Russell | William Morrow, 1989


p. 315

Russell Baker on Richard Nixon: Nixon was like Russ himself when he was dancing by the numbers. No graceful, sensuous response to the music for him. No, “on the dance floor I moved woodenly through patterns memorized from books while silently counting, ‘One, two, sidestep three, feet together, four. . . . . I was graceless, awkward, terrible.” I was like Nixon. “Nixon’s political performances were like my dancing. He was doing everything by the numbers . . . [But unlike me with my dancing] he could never give it up.” He was too ambitious. “No matter how artificial he looked at it, he had to keep it up, had to keep counting: One, two, sidestep three, feet together, four . . . . No wonder he couldn’t stand the reporters. They were an audience that would never stop watching him do something he didn’t do well. They were witnesses to the profound joylessness with which he pursued his terrible ambition.”