Tuesday, May 01, 2018


National Review's Kyle Smith's assessment of the new campaign memoir by Amy Chozick of The New York Times is marred by some reading comprehension problems:
One intriguing aspect of Amy Chozick’s reporting in Chasing Hillary is that Chozick wrote a story for the New York Times that never ran that celebrated Clinton’s convivial spirit (or, if you like, her boozing)....

The attentive reader will wonder whether Clinton has a drinking problem. Chozick says that Clinton would have been “the booziest president since FDR” and “enjoys a cocktail — or three — more than most previous presidents.” Chozick isn’t saying that Clinton has three cocktails but that she has three cocktails more than a man. So: five cocktails, then? Five cocktails for a woman is generally said to have the same effect as ten cocktails on a man. Would you want a man who regularly put away ten cocktails to be president?
Chozick isn't saying that Clinton routinely drinks three more cocktails than a typical male president. She's saying that Clinton enjoys her cocktails -- one, three, whatever -- more than most previous presidents do. Isn't that obvious? Smith graduated summa cum laude from Yale. Why can't he read? Or does Hillary Derangement Syndrome just make the misreading too tempting?

Not that Chozick is on particularly solid ground. Does she really believe that Clinton would have been “the booziest president since FDR”? Amy Chozick, meet LBJ:
Lyndon Johnson was well known in Washington for his capacity to guzzle Cutty Sark whisky and soda when he was Democratic majority leader in the Senate, a habit he took to the White House. Johnson, who told his doctor after a heart attack that the only things he enjoyed in life were "whisky, sunshine and sex", enjoyed entertaining at his Texas ranch where the booze flowed.

LBJ's special assistant for domestic affairs, Joseph A Califano, remembered a ride around the ranch with the president: "As we drove around we were followed by a car and a station wagon with Secret Service agents. The president drank Cutty Sark scotch and soda out of a large, white, plastic foam cup.

"Periodically, Johnson would slow down and hold his left arm outside the car, shaking the cup and ice. A Secret Service agent would run up to the car, take the cup and go back to the station wagon. There another agent would refill it with ice, scotch and soda as the first agent trotted behind the wagon."

And then there's Richard Nixon, who, to be fair, didn't need a lot of alcohol to get plowed (the pills helped):
[John] Ehrlichman, after watching a sodden Nixon make a clumsy pass at a young lady in 1964, had made him promise to lay off the stuff before agreeing to work for him. [Leonard] Garment remembered instances during the 1968 campaign when his exhausted friend—after a drink or a sleeping pill or both—would call him late at night and ramble on and on until Morpheus claimed him in midconversation....

A beer and a sleeping pill, and Nixon began to mumble, Speechwriter Ray Price recalled. Two drinks and “his voice would become slurred,” said another Nixon speechwriter, William Safire. “He would reminisce … open himself up.” On a private jet to Florida during the 1968 campaign, Nixon had downed a quick scotch or two and began to cry as he spoke to his aides of his parents, Frank and Hannah, and Arthur and Harold, the two brothers who died in their youth. “People don’t know me,” he pitiably told his staff.

Three drinks? “He couldn’t handle it,” said veteran California strate­gist Stu Spencer. “He really got paranoid when he got three drinks in him. There are things I’m not even going to discuss that were said, but they were the result of drinking. He could not handle drink.” His White House tapes capture the tinkling of ice cubes on several occasions in which Nixon, coming down from the high of a nationally televised address or a prime-time press conference, starts slurring his words while polling friends and advisers on his performance. “When I talked to the president he was loaded,” Kissinger told a colleague, explaining why Nixon could not take a phone call from the British prime minister during a Mideast crisis.
Nixon nearly got us into a nuclear war while under the influence:
When North Korea shot down a US spy plane in April 1969, an enraged Nixon allegedly ordered a tactical nuclear strike and told the joint chiefs to recommend targets. According to the historian Anthony Summers, citing the CIA's top Vietnam specialist at the time, George Carver, Henry Kissinger spoke to military commanders on the phone and agreed not to do anything until Nixon sobered up in the morning.
Amy, maybe you should read a little history before you make sweeping statements.

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