George H.W. Bush (1924-2018) (BOOK EXCERPT)

George H.W. Bush passed away on Friday at the age of 94. The former Representative, UN Ambassador, RNC Chair, China Envoy, CIA Director, Vice President and President owed a lot to President Richard Nixon. After Bush’s unsuccessful 1970 campaign for U.S. Senate, Nixon made sure Bush stayed in the political arena by appointing him UN Ambassador and then RNC Chair. Perhaps Nixon was well-disposed to the future President due to an important, but somewhat understated role that Bush played in Nixon’s 1968 comeback. 

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The Comeback

CBS Sunday Morning ran a story this weekend about Richard Nixon’s 1968 comeback. I thought it was a good piece that summarized what was at stake, both in Nixon’s life and in 1968. It was nice seeing all those video clips and interviews with people like Pat Buchanan and Dwight Chapin – people that were extraordinarily helpful to me when I was writing my book. It helped bring to life what had, otherwise, mainly existed to me in the form of papers, emails, and phone calls.

One thing that disappointed me about that story was that it didn’t mention his law firm career at all. After all, interviewees Buchanan and Chapin were both employed by Nixon Mudge, while campaign manager John Mitchell (mentioned near the end) had come to the firm via merger. Until that happened, Nixon and Mitchell had barely even known one another – indeed, Mitchell had a stronger relationship with Nixon’s longtime rival in the GOP, Nelson Rockefeller.

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It was 50 Years Ago Today.

On November 5, 1968, Richard Nixon completed his remarkable comeback from political oblivion and was elected President of the United States (okay, his victory wasn’t confirmed until early the following morning, but still…).

When I was writing my book, I deliberately aimed for 2018 as a release date since it would mark the 50th anniversary of Nixon’s victory. Indeed, the 50th anniversary had been the main driving point behind the entire project. This book had started out as a proposed Q&A with former Nixon aide and Mudge Rose managing partner Tom Evans to mark the 50th anniversary of his joining the firm in 1963.

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A Fantastic Review from CHOICE

After losing the California governor’s race in 1962, Nixon announced the end of his political career, and he accepted a partnership in a prestigious New York City law firm. He became a valuable rainmaker for the firm, and he used his position to reconstitute his political base with wealthy contributors, a deep and talented campaign staff, and enhanced international experience. This culminated in his victory in the 1968 presidential campaign. The assistant managing editor of the American Bar Association’s trade journal, Li provides an excellent, straightforward narrative of how this transpired. The author places these transformational years within a quick survey of Nixon’s prior political career and a brief overview of his two administrations. The consistency of Nixon’s talents and flaws is evident in each phase of his career. The final chapter treats former colleagues and legal issues of the firm during Nixon’s presidency. The epilogue touches on recent presidential players’ engagements with prestigious law firms. Although this focused and manageable account relies more on interviews and printed sources than on extensive archival research, it deserves consideration in competition with John Farrell’s or Evan Thomas’s recent, massive Nixon biographies.

Summing Up: Highly recommended. General readers; upper-division undergraduates through faculty. — Choice Reviews

Podcast: ABA Annual Meeting 2018: State Attorneys General and Federalism in the Obama/Trump Eras

An interesting podcast from the 2018 ABA Annual Meeting consisting of legal heavyweights Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum, former Virginia Solicitor General William Hurd, Wisconsin Solicitor General Misha Tseytlin and Northwestern Law School dean Dan Rodriguez. And me.

How the Radical Movements of the 1960s Changed the Law and Challenged the Status Quo (Podcast)

I got the opportunity to host this month’s episode of “Asked and Answered.” I interviewed attorney and activist Paul Harris about his work stretching back to the 1960s. Harris, one of the radical “movement lawyers” featured in the cover story for the August issue of the ABA Journal, spoke about his work defending high-profile clients like Huey Newton, Leonard McNeil and others.

New York Lifts Ban on MMA Events

Well, New York state has finally legalized professional mixed martial art events. The big news came yesterday, as the state assembly, where many prior bills have gone to die, finally passed it by an overwhelming majority. Without long-time opponent Sheldon Silver around to stop the bill from reaching the floor, the bill easily passed with bipartisan support.

… And only six years after I wrote my master’s thesis on the battle to lift the MMA ban in the state. Can’t say I didn’t get some mileage out of the whole thing:

Some fighting to legalize mixed martial arts in NY.

Suit Challenges Ban on Mixed Marts.

Judge Narrows Challenge to Ban on Mixed Martial Arts.

Ted Cruz Announces 2016 Bid for Presidency

I have no idea whether or not Ted Cruz will be a credible Presidential candidate. Who knows anymore? Especially with this Republican Party.

All I know is that he’ll be entertaining to watch. He’s the first GOP candidate in recent memory that, when it comes to substantive issues, is essentially gaffe-proof. While other candidates might try and avoid taking extreme positions or saying controversial things that could be damaging in a general election, or be forced into doing all kinds of verbal jiu-jitsu to explain their voting records to Tea Partiers that don’t care about what it takes to get stuff done in Washington, Cruz (assuming he remains true to form) doesn’t care about any of that.

Even Rick Santorum, by virtue of the fact he was part of the GOP Senate leadership while in Washington, had some votes on his record that he struggled to explain to conservative voters (like his vote in favor of “No Child Left Behind”). Cruz won’t have to worry about that since he’s actively trying to be the ultra-conservative culture warrior who won’t be outflanked on the right by anyone. Talking Points Memo has argued that he will push the entire GOP field to the right – and maybe that’s his #1 goal. Whether it’s a winning strategy in the general election is another question.

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