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By Norman Mailer
Published by Random House Trade Paperbacks on 2016-07-05
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Praise for Norman Mailer '[Norman Mailer] loomed over American letters longer and larger than any other writer of his generation.' ''The New York Times 'A writer of the greatest and most reckless talent.' ''The New Yorker 'Mailer is indispensable, an American treasure.' ''The Washington Post 'A devastatingly alive and original creative mind.' ''Life 'Mailer is 'erce, courageous, and reckless and nearly everything he writes has sections of headlong brilliance.' ''The New York Review of Books 'The largest mind and imagination at work [in modern] American literature'.' .' . Unlike just about every American writer since Henry James, Mailer has managed to grow and become richer in wisdom with each new book.' ''Chicago Tribune 'Mailer is a master of his craft. His language carries you through the story like a leaf on a stream.' ''The Cincinnati Post
Praise for Miami and the Siege of Chicago '[Miami and the Siege of Chicago analyzes] events inside and beyond the convention hall with its author's characteristic, and in this case perfectly appropriate, blend of intellectual grandiosity and journalistic acumen.' ''A. O. Scott, The New York Times 'Mailer's book holds up better than most political journalism written last week, let alone four decades ago. Indeed it survives better than it has any right to'? as history, as literature, and as a portrait of America both then and now.' ''Frank Rich, The New York Review of Books '[One] of the era's de'nitional books.' ''The Nation 'Mailer's report glows with descriptions of the people and the places whose permanent identities were forged in the hot furnace of that tragic, fateful year. . . . [A] sharp, funny, bitter, beautiful rumination on what it must have been like.' ''Chicago Tribune 'Wrong as often as he was right, Mailer seems so brave precisely because he was so ready to risk looking foolish.'.' .' . Mailer was not only perfectly attuned to the moment but prescient.' ''The Phoenix (Boston) 'Mailer was a poet laureate of the punch, and this classic New Journalism''style report on the '68 conventions sizes up presidential wanna-'bes as if they were a batch of second-'rate palookas. . . . His descriptions alone are reason to read this still-'relevant book.' ''Time Out New York
By Norman Mailer The Naked and the Dead Barbary Shore The Deer Park The White Negro Advertisements for Myself Deaths for the Ladies (and Other Disasters) The Presidential Papers An American Dream Cannibals and Christians The Short Fiction of Norman Mailer The Deer Park''A Play Why Are We in Vietnam? The Bull'ght The Armies of the Night Miami and the Siege of Chicago Of a Fire on the Moon King of the Hill The Prisoner of Sex Maidstone The Long Patrol Existential Errands St. George and the Godfather Marilyn The Faith of Gra'ti The Fight Genius and Lust A Transit to Narcissus The Executioner's Song Of Women and Their Elegance Pieces and Ponti'cations Ancient Evenings Tough Guys Don't Dance Conversations with Norman Mailer Harlot's Ghost Oswald's Tale Portrait of Picasso as a Young Man The Gospel According to the Son The Time of Our Time The Spooky Art Why Are We at War? Modest Gifts The Big Empty (with John Bu'alo Mailer) The Castle in the Forest On God (with J. Michael Lennon) Mind of an Outlaw Selected Letters of Norman Mailer (edited by J. Michael Lennon)
Miami and the Siege of Chicago
Miami and the Siege of Chicago An Informal History of the Republican and Democratic Conventions of 1968 Norman Mailer R A N D O M H O U S E N E W Y O R K
2016 Random House Trade Paperback Edition Copyright ? 1968 and copyright renewed 1996 by Norman Mailer All rights reserved. Published in the United States by Random House, an imprint and division of Penguin Random House LLC, New York. Random House and the House colophon are registered trademarks of Penguin Random House LLC. Originally published in hardcover in the United States by D.I. Fine in 1968. library of congress cataloginginpublication data Mailer, Norman Miami and the siege of Chicago: an informal history of the Republican and Democratic conventions of 1968 / by Norman Mailer p. cm. ISBN 978- 0- 399- 58833- 4 ebook ISBN 978-0-399-58834-1 1. Republican National Convention (1968 : Miami, Fla.) 2. Democratic National Convention (1968 : Chicago, Ill.). I. Title JK23531968 . M34 2008 324.273'15609046? dc22 Printed in the United States of America on acidfree paper randomhousebooks.com 2 4 6 8 9 7 5 3 1
To my father
Nothing Infuriates the Natives of Miami Beach More Than to Be Confused with Miamians. ''Miami Beach Chamber of Commerce
Contents I. Nixon in Miami? 1 II. The Siege of Chicago? 81
I. Nixon in Miami
Miami Beach, August 3'? 9 They snipped the ribbon in 1915, they popped the cork, Miami Beach was born. A modest burg they called a city, nine-'tenths jungle. An island. It ran along a coastal barrier the other side of Biscayne Bay from young Miami'? in 1868 when Henry Lum, a California 'forty-'niner, 'rst glimpsed the island from a schooner, you may be certain it was jungle, cocoanut palms on the sand, mangrove swamp and palmetto thicket ten feet o? the beach. But by 1915, they were working the vein. John S. Collins, a New Jersey nurseryman (after whom Collins Avenue is kindly named) brought in bean 'elds and avocado groves; a gent named Fisher, Carl G., a Hoosier''he invented Prestolite, a millionaire''bought up acres from Collins, brought in a work-'load of machinery, men, even two elephants, and jungle was cleared, swamps were 'lled, small residential islands were made out of baybottom mud, dredged, then relocated, somewhat larger natural islands adjacent to the barrier island found themselves improved, streets were paved, sidewalks put in with other amenities''by 1968, one hundred years after Lum 'rst glommed the beach, large areas of the original coastal strip were covered over altogether with macadam, white condominium, white luxury hotel and white stucco flea-? bag. Over hundreds, then thousands of acres, white sidewalks, streets and white buildings covered the earth where the jungle had been. Is it so dissimilar from covering your poor pubic hair with adhesive tape for 'fty years? The vegetal memories of that excised
4norman NORMAN mailer jungle haunted Miami Beach in a steam-'pot of miasmas. Ghosts of expunged flora, the never-'born groaning in vegetative chancery beneath the asphalt came up with a tropical curse, an equatorial leaden wet sweat of air which rose from the earth itself, rose right up through the baked asphalt and into the heated air which entered the lungs like a hand slipping into a rubber glove. The temperature was not that insane. It hung around 87 day after day, at night it went down to 82, back to the same 87 in the a.m.''the claims of the News Bureau for Miami Beach promised that in 1967 temperature exceeded 90? only four times. (Which the Island of Manhattan could never begin to say.) But of course Miami Beach did not have to go that high, for its humidity was up to 87 as well'? it was, on any and every day of the Republican Convention of 1968, one of the hottest cities in the world. The reporter was no expert on tropical heats''he had had, he would admit, the island of Luzon for a summer in World War II; and basic training in the pine woods of Fort Bragg, North Carolina, in August; he had put in a week at Las Vegas during July'? temperatures to 110; he had crossed the Mojave Desert once by day; he was familiar with the New York subway in the rush hour on the hottest day of the year. These were awesome immersions'? one did not have to hit the Congo to know what it was like in a'hothouse in hell''but that 87? in Miami Beach day after day held up in competition against other sulphuric encounters. Traveling for 've miles up the broken-'down, forever in-? astate-'of-'? alteration and repair of Collins Avenue, crawling through 5 p.m. Miami Beach traffic in the pure miserable fortune of catching an old taxi without air conditioning, dressed in shirt and tie and jacket''formal and implicitly demanded uniform of political journalists''the sensation of breathing, then living, was not unlike being obliged to make love to a 300-'pound woman who has decided to get on top. Got it? You could not dominate a thing. That uprooted jungle had to be screaming beneath. Of course it could have been the air conditioning: natural climate transmogri'ed by technological climate. They say that in
NIXON IN MIAMI 5 Miami Beach the air conditioning is pushed to that icy point where women may wear fur coats over their diamonds in the tropics. For ten miles, from the Diplomat to the Di Lido, above Hallandale Beach Boulevard down to Lincoln Mall, all the white refrigerators stood, piles of white refrigerators six and eight and twelve stories high, twenty stories high, shaped like sugar cubes and ice-'cube trays on edge, like mosques and palaces, shaped like matched white luggage and portable radios, stereos, plastic compacts and plastic rings, Moorish castles shaped like wa'e irons, shaped like the ba'e plates on white plastic electric heaters, and cylinders like Waring blenders, buildings looking like giant op art and pop art paintings, and sweet wedding cakes, cottons of kitsch and piles of dirty cotton stucco, yes, for ten miles the hotels for the delegates stood on the beach side of Collins Avenue: the Eden Roc and the Fontainebleau (Press Headquarters), the Di'Lido and the De Lano, the Ivanhoe, Deauville, Sherry Frontenac and the Monte Carlo, the Cadillac, Caribbean and the Balmoral, the Lucerne, Hilton Plaza, Doral Beach, the Sorrento, Marco Polo, Casa'blanca, and Atlantis, the Hilyard Manor, Sans Souci, Algiers, Carillon, Seville, the Gaylord, the Shore Club, the Nautilus, Montmartre, and the Promenade, the Bal Harbour on North Bay Causeway, and the Twelve Caesars, the Regency and the Americana, the Diplomat, Versailles, Coronado, Sovereign, the Waldman (dig!), the Beau Rivage, the Crown Hotel, even Holiday Inn, all oases for technological man. Deep air conditioning down to 68', ice-'palaces to chill the fevered brain''when the air conditioning worked. And their furnishings were monumentally materialistic. Not all of them: the cheaper downtown hotels like the Di Lido and the Nautilus were bare and mean with vinyl ? coverings on the sofas and the glare of plastic o? the rugs and ? ta'bles and tiles, inexpensive hotel colors of pale brown and bu? and dingy cream, sodden gray, but the diadems like the Fontaine? bleau and the Eden Roc, the Doral Beach, the Hilton Plaza (Headquarters for Nixon), the Deauville (Hq for Reagan) or the Americana''Rockefeller and the New York State delegation's
6norman NORMAN mailer own ground''were lavish with interlockings, curves, vaults and runs of furnishings as intertwined as serpents in the roots of a mangrove tree. All the rivers of the very worst taste twisted down to the delta of each lobby in each grand Miami Beach hotel''rare was the central room which did not look like the lobby of a movie palace, imitation of late-'Renaissance imitations of Greek and Roman statues, imitations of baroque and rococo and brothel Victorian and Art Nouveau and Bauhaus with gold grapes and cornucopias welded to the modern bronze tubing of the chair, golden moldings which ran like ivy from room to room, chandeliers complex as the armature of dynamos, and curvilinear steps in the shape of amoebas and palettes, cocktail lounge bars in deep rose or maroon with spun-'sugar white tubes of plaster decor to twist around the ceiling. There was every color of iridescence, rainbows of vulgarity, aureoles of gorgeous taste, opium den of a middle-'class dollar, materialistic as meat, sweat, and the cigar. It is said that people born under Taurus and Capricorn are the most materialistic of us all. Take a sample of the residents in the census of Miami B.''does Taurus predominate more than one-'twelfth of its share? It must, or astrology is done, for the Republicans, Grand Old Party with a philosophy rather than a program, had chosen what must certainly be the materialistic capital of the world for their convention. Las Vegas might o'er competition, but Las Vegas was materialism in the service of electricity'? fortunes could be lost in the spark of the dice. Miami was materialism baking in the sun, then stepping back to air-'conditioned caverns where ice could nestle in the fur. It was the 'rst of a hundred curiosities''that in a year when the Republic hovered on the edge of revolution, nihilism, and lines of police on 'le to the horizon, visions of future Vietnams in our own cities upon us, the party of conservatism and principle, of corporate wealth and personal frugality, the party of cleanliness, hygiene, and balanced budget, should have set itself down on a sultan's strip. That was the 'rst of a hundred curiosities, but there were mysteries as well. The reporter had moved through the convention
NIXON IN MIAMI 7 quietly, as anonymously as possible, wan, depressed, troubled. Something profoundly unclassi'able was going on among the Republicans and he did not know if it was conceivably good or a concealment of something bad''which was the 'rst time a major social phenomenon like a convention had confused him so. He had covered others. The Democratic Convention in 1960 in Los Angeles which nominated John F. Kennedy, and the Republican in San Francisco in 1964 which installed Barry Goldwater, had encouraged some of his very best writing. He had felt a gift for comprehending those conventions. But the Republican assembly in Miami Beach in 1968 was a di'erent a'air''one could not tell if nothing much was going on, or to the contrary, nothing much was going on near the surface but everything was shifting down below. So dialogue with other journalists merely depressed him''the complaints were unanimous that this was the dullest convention anyone could remember. Complaints took his mind away from the slow brooding infusion he desired in the enigmas of conservatism and/or Republicanism, and any hope of perspective on the problem beyond. The country was in a throe, a species of eschatological heave. The novelist John Updike was not necessarily one of his favorite authors, but after the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy, it was Updike who had made the remark that God might have withdrawn His blessing from America. It was a thought which could not be forgotten for it gave insight to the perspectives of the Devil and his political pincers: Left-'wing demons, white and Black, working to inflame the conservative heart of America, while Right-'wing devils exacerbated Blacks and drove the mind of the New Left and liberal middle class into prides of hopeless position. And the country roaring like a bull in its wounds, coughing like a sick lung in the smog, turning over in sleep at the sound of motorcycles, shivering at its need for new phalanxes of order. Where were the new phalanxes one could trust? The reporter had seen the faces of too many police to balm his dreams with the sleep they promised. Even the drinks tasted bad in Miami in the fever and the chill.
8norman NORMAN mailer 2 His 'rst afternoon in Miami Beach was spent by the reporter in Convention Hall. He stepped up on the speaker's podium to see how it might feel, nosed into the jerrybuilt back room back of the podium where speakers would wait, and Press be excluded, once the convention was begun. A room unmatched for dreariness. Dull green daybeds and sofas, a nondescript powder-'blue rug, open studding and therefore open wall-'board color, brown and tan leatherette chairs, a dreary cloth throw on a table. Every quiet color clashed with every other quiet color''it was the sort of room which could have served for the bridge players in an old folks? summer camp in some flat and inland state. In this room, while preparing to orate, would wait some of the more ambitious men in America, and some of the more famous; looking at their manuscripts might be John Wayne, Barry Goldwater, John Lindsay, Thomas E. Dewey, Ronald Reagan, Governor Rockefeller, George Romney, Richard Nixon himself''not to mention Billy Graham''they would pass through the splendors of this profoundly American anteroom. Examination completed, the reporter abruptly decided he would actually go out to the airport to greet the arrival of a baby elephant which was arriving on a Delta cargo plane as a gift to Richard Nixon from the people of Anaheim, California. That seemed an appropriate way to open coverage of the convention. 3 Unless one knows him well, or has done a sizable work of preparation, it is next to useless to interview a politician. He has a mind which is accustomed to political questions. By the time he decides to run for President, he may have answered a million. Or at least this is true if he has been in politics for twenty years and has replied to an average of one hundred-''fty such queries a day, no
NIXON IN MIAMI 9 uncharacteristic amount. To surprise a skillful politician with a question is then approximately equal in difficulty to hitting a professional boxer with a barroom hook. One cannot therefore tell a great deal from interviews with a candidate. His teeth are bound to be white, his manner mild and pleasant, his presence attractive, and his ability to slide o? the question and return with an answer is as implicit in the work of his jaws as the ability to bite a piece of meat. Interviewing a candidate is about as intimate as catching him on television. Therefore it is sometimes easier to pick up the truth of his campaign by studying the outriggers of his activity. Therefore the reporter went to cover the elephant. It was, as expected, a modest story in a quiet corner of International Airport in Miami. Not more than ten reporters and a dozen photographers showed up. And a band, and a quorum of Nixonettes wearing blue dresses and white straw hats with a legend nixon's the one. A publicity pu? was handed around which informed the Press that the beast was named Ana (for Anaheim, California) and was 52" high, 2? years old, weighed 1,266 lbs. and had been given to Nixon by the happy citizens of the town'? Ana! Ana came in on a Lockheed 100, a hippo of a four-'motor plane with four-'bladed propellers. The cargo door was in the rear, and as the musicians, Don Goldie and his Dixieland Band, white musicians from the Hilton-'Miami''accordion, tuba, trombone, snares, clarinet, banjo, and trumpet''began to play, and the six Nixonettes began to strut (they looked to be high school juniors) and the plane to unload, so the black cloud on the horizon moved over, and began its drop, black tropical rain so intense even photographers had to take shelter, and a dozen, then another dozen of musicians, Nixonettes, cameramen, photographers, and animal handlers piled into a small 6 x 8 Hertz trailer later to be used for the elephant. In the steam of the interior, the day took on surreal and elegant proportions''two dozen amateurs and professionals on call for one baby elephant (said to be arriving in her tutu) were equal across the board to the logic of one political con-
10norman NORMAN mailer vention; by the time the rain stopped 've minutes later and the elephant crate was unloaded, hoisted on a fork lift o? the carrier, brought near the trailer and opened, everyone gave a cheer to Ana who came out nervously from her crate, but with a de'nite sense of style. She took a quick look at the still photographers surrounding her, and the larger movie cameras to which certain humans were obviously connected, stepped on the still-wet? steaming runway, threw a droll red-'eye at her handler, dropped a small turd to X the spot of her liberation from the crate (and as a marker in case she wanted later to retrace her steps) then did a good Republican handstand, trunk curved as graciously as a pinkie o? a teacup. To which the media corps responded with approval, Nixonettes squealing, Don Goldie Band playing Dixieland, still cameras clicking, movie cameras ticking within the gears of their clockwork, Dade County police grinning as they stood to one side (four men''all armed). Then Ana from Anaheim walked on her hind legs. To much approval. She curtsied, bowed, turned in a circle, obviously pleased with herself, then stretched out her trunk in the general area of everybody's midsection. 'Hey, chum, watch your peanuts,' a man called out. It went on for a period, the Nixonettes having their pictures taken, one girl who was not a high school junior but most likely a professional model taking care to see she was in the picture often, and all the girls kept trying to put a straw Nixon hat on Ana, but the hat kept falling o'. After ten minutes, the handlers tried to coax Ana into the Hertz trailer, but she was not about to, not yet, so they walked her around a hangar, brought her back, then slipped her 1200-'lb. bulk into the box with a bit of elephant handler's legerdemain. The arrival was over. It had been pleasant; in truth, more pleasant than the reporter had expected. It had not been tense, not even with the four armed cops. The air had been better than one might have thought. So it was a warning to one's perspective and proportion: the Nixon forces and the Nixon people were going to be in command of small subtleties he had not anticipated. It was his 'rst clue to the
NIXON IN MIAMI 11 notion that there was a new Nixon. He could have read a dozen articles which said the same thing and paid no mind, for the men who wrote them were experts and so were wrong in their predictions as often as they were right. Experts he would disregard''so far as he was able''but Ana had been happy doing her handstand: that was an unexpected fact he would have to absorb into the 'rst freshets of his brooding. Of course the reporter had once decided (using similar methods) that Barry Goldwater could win the 1964 election. This, at least, was the method at its extreme. Still, a happy elephant spoke of luck for Nixon, or at the least, agreeable management down the line. 4 Rockefeller came in at Opa Locka Airport next day, and again it rained. The skies over Miami were at their best when rain was near, for cumulus clouds piled high on themselves, making towers, pyramids, turrets, and heavenly Miami Beach hotels two miles up in the air while dark horizontal tides of oncoming tropical storm washed through the sky, crossed the sun, gave gildings of gold and black to the towers of cumulus. The schedule for arrival was Rockefeller on Saturday, Reagan later that evening, and Nixon on Monday. They were all of course coming in on charter flights, and the Rockefeller plane, an American Airlines 727 jet which had carried the candidate 65,000 miles into forty-''ve states during the campaign, was landing, for security reasons, at the Coast Guard Airport, Opa Locka, out to the west of Miami, almost in red-'neck country, the town of Opa Locka still another sad sweet real estate failure of Southern Florida for it had been built to recapitulate a piece of North Africa. Residential streets with names like Ali Baba Avenue, Sesame Street, Sharazad Boulevard, Arabia Avenue, Sultan Avenue, Caliph Street, and Salim Street wound around the center of Opa Locka in complicated ovals and ellipses all planned thirty-'plus or
12norman NORMAN mailer forty years ago by a real estate genius, now a town all but deserted in the afternoon sun with the storm coming on, just occasional palmettoes and the crumbling white stucco center where a small old hotel and bar stood like the molderings of a Foreign Legion fort, holding the crossroads before the Coast Guard pushed onto the airport. Perhaps a hundred or a hundred-''fty newsmen, TV cameras, and still photographers were out at the main hangar with the Press bus, way out in the quiet empty reaches of the all but deserted airdrome, and overhead, light planes and helicopters patrolled the near sky, and four or 've police cars were parked in uneasy relation to the crowd. The reporter had to show no identi'cation to enter the gate, and needed none now; a potential assassin, tipped to Rockefeller's entrance at Opa Locka, could have packed a piece to within a yard of him''of course, afterward, he could never have escaped. If he managed to shoot past the twenty-? odd cops in the direct vicinity, the helicopters would have followed his car all the way to Miami, maybe nailed him on Arthur Godfrey Causeway from the sky. Like pieces of flesh fragmented from the explosion of a grenade, echoes of the horror of Kennedy's assassination were thus everywhere: helicopters riding overhead like roller coasters, state troopers with Magnums on their hip and crash helmets, squad cars, motorcycles, yet no real security, just powers of retaliation. It forced one to cherish major politicians''no matter how colorless, they all had hints of charisma now that they were obviously more vulnerable to sudden death than bull'ghters, and so they were surrounded with a suggestion of the awe peasants reserve for the visit of the bishop'? some rushed to touch them, others looked ready to drop to their knees. Thus, at least, for Rockefeller and the Press. He was surrounded almost immediately after he came down the landing ramp, and never left alone, surrounded by Press and cameramen 've deep, the photographers by long practice holding their cameras and even their movie cameras up over their heads, aiming down by skillful guess, so that from a distance one could always
NIXON IN MIAMI 13 tell exactly where the candidate was situated, for a semicircle of cameras crooned in from above like bulbs of seaweed breaking surface at high tide, or were they more like praying mantises on the heads of tall grass'''a bazaar of metaphor was obviously offered. Rocky had come o? the plane with his entourage and his wife. She was surprisingly attractive, with a marvelous high color which made her vastly better-'looking than her photographs, and Rocky looked like much less than his photographs, gray beyond gray in the flesh, gray as New York City pavements, gray as an old con''the sun could not have touched him in a month or else all the 'ghting blood of the heart was somewhere deep inside the brain, working through the anxiety-'ridden calculations with which he must have come to Miami, for Nixon with his six-? hundred-'plus votes now almost secure was a handful or a score or at best not 'fty votes from the 'rst ballot nomination. Anxiety had to be stirred by every omen: the weather, the 'rst unfamiliar face to greet you o? the plane, the sudden flight of a bird, the warmth of the policeman's salutation, or the enthusiasm of the Press corps. But if it were for that, he was elected already. Rockefeller was obviously the near-'unanimous choice of the Press, and above all, the television''a mating of high chemical potentials existed 'between the media and the man as if they had been each conceived for the other. Except for his complexion, Rocky had an all but perfect face for President, virile, friendly, rough-? hewn, of the common man, yet uncommon''Spencer Tracy's younger brother gone into politics. He had only one flaw''an odd and unpleasant mouth, a cat'sh mouth, wide, unnaturally wide with very thin lips. In the center of the mouth there seemed almost another mouth which did the speaking, somewhat thicker lips which pursed, opened, deliberated''all the while the slit-'thin corners of the mouth seemed o? on their own, not really moving with the center. So he gave the impression of a man to whom expert instruction had disclosed what
14norman NORMAN mailer he might be expected to say''therefore only the middle of the mouth would be on call. The rain which had begun to come down and then providentially stopped, was coming on again. So he was able to slip out of the tight ring of interviewers locked about him after answering 'fty more of the million political questions he would reply to in his life, and now the press bus and the private cars were o? in a race across Miami to the 72nd Street public beach in Miami Beach maybe ten miles away where a big rally was scheduled. The helicopters rode lead and flank cowhand overhead, the cavalcade sped from Opa Locka; not thirty minutes later, band playing, cymbals smashing, Rocky walked a half-'block through a crowd on 72nd Street and Collins Avenue, accepting the mob, walking through them to partial deliriums of excitement, a crazy mob for politicking, dressed in bathing suits, bikinis, bathrobes, surfers? trunks, paper dresses, terry cloth shirts, they jammed the pavement in bare feet, sandals, clod-'hoppers, bathers screaming, calling out, falling in line around the free Pepsi-'Cola wagon, good-'natured but never super-'excited''the rally was on the edge of the beach after all, and a leaden milky-'green sea was pounding an erratic, nervous foam of surf onto the water's-'edge of the beach not 'fty yards away. As Rocky moved forward in his brown-'gray business suit, murmurs went up everywhere'''There goes the next President of the United States.' But the crowd was somehow not huge enough to amplify this sentiment''they looked more like tourists than Republicans''all those votes he would get some day if ever he would capture the nomination. And as he moved forward through the crowd, shaking hands, saying 'Hiya, hiya,' big grin on his face at the shouts of, 'We want Rocky,' so also at that instant a tall skinny Negro maybe thirty years old leaped in front to shake hands and with the other hand looking for a souvenir, he flipped Rocky's purple handkerchief out of his breast pocket. But Rockefeller showed true Republican blood. A look of consternation for one stricken gap of an instant''was this an attempt'''until seeing the handkerchief in the man's hand, the
NIXON IN MIAMI 15 situation was recovered: Rocky strode forward, pulled the handkerchief back, gave an admonishing look, as if to say, 'Come on, fellow!' and immediately had some cardboard sunglasses pilfered from the same breast pocket by a heated happy hysterical lady tourist with whom he could not wrestle. Kerchief recovered, sunglasses o'ered up in tribute, he made the speaker's stand''the flat bed of a truck''and the meeting began. The New York Times was to report 3,000 people there, perhaps it was half; they cheered everything he said, those who could hear him. The acoustics varied from punko to atrocious, and the reporter circling the crowd heard one plain buxom girl with long brown hair''hippie hints of trinket and dungarees, girl formed out of the very mold of Rockefeller supporters''turn nonetheless sadly to her friend and say, 'I can't hear a thing''bye bye.' Next step, a sixty-'year-'old blonde in a bikini with half of a good 'gure left (breast and buttocks) the flesh around her navel unhappily equal to the flesh around her neck, wearing orange plastic bracelets, gold charm necklace, rings, rhinestone sunglasses, wedgies, painted toes, red hot momma kisser lips, a transistor radio giving rock, and she''whatever she was hearing''out to yell, 'Rocky, we want Rocky,' beating out the rhythm on one of her two consorts, the one younger than herself; the older, a husband? had a cigar, a paunch, and that benign cool which speaks of holding property in Flatbush in Brooklyn, and putting up with a live-'wire wife. But indeed it must have been reminiscent to Rocky of campaigning on beaches in Brooklyn and Queens, not Coney Island so much as Brighton or Manhattan Beach or Jacob Riis Park: the crowd had the same propinquity, same raucous cheery wise hard middle-'class New York smarts''take the measure of everything and still give your cheer because you are there, Murray. Even the smells were the same''orgiastic onions in red hot dog and knish grease, dirty yellow sand''Rocky had to recognize it all, for when he introduced Claude Kirk, 'the young alive Governor of Florida? (sole vote for him in the Florida delegation) a smattering
16norman NORMAN mailer of applause came up, a spattering of comment, and one or two spit-'spraying lip blats''it was obvious the crowd didn't know Kirk from a Ma'a dance-'contest winner. So Rocky shifted gears. 'It's a thrill for us from New York to be here, in Florida,' he said, 'and half of you must be here from New York.' The laugh told him he was right. A delicate gloom began to come in equal to the 'rst tendrils of mist over a full moon; God would know what his advisers had been telling him about the possible power of this open street rally on the 72nd Street beach''with luck and a mass turnout massive enough to break all records in category, he could be on his way''a people's candidate must ride a tidal wave. This was not even a bona 'de breaker. Half of his audience was from New York. Well, he was no weak campaigner. He kept it going, hitting the hard spots, 'The Republican Party must become again a national party, the voice of the poor and the oppressed.' Great cheers for the size of the crowd. 'The Republican Party cannot a'ord parochialism any longer.' Smaller cheer, slight confusion in his audience. 'Parochialism? had vague connotations of Roman Catholic schools. Rocky had a good voice, man-? to-'man voice, Tracy, Bogart, hints of Gable. When the very rich desert their patrician holdings on the larynx (invariably because they have gone into politics) and would come over as regular grips, mill-'hands and populists, they lean dependably into the imitation of movie stars they have loved. One could psych a big bet that Spencer Tracy was Rocky's own Number One and would be on the ticket as Vice President if the election were held in heaven. It was an honest voice, sincere, masculine, vibrant, reedy, slightly hoarse, full of honest range-'rider muscle, with injections from the honest throatiness of New York. It was a near-'perfect voice for a campaigner; it was just a question of whether it was entirely his own or had gravitated to its function, much as the center of his mouth had concentrated itself away from the corners of his lips. 'And while we're on it,' said Rocky, powers of transition not notably his true preserve, 'Senator McCarthy deserves a vote of
NIXON IN MIAMI 17 commendation for getting the eighteen-'year-'olds back into politics again,' (was this the Rockefeller who had once tried to shove fallout shelters into every suburban back yard') 'and when I'm President, I want to pass a bill letting the eighteen-'year-'olds vote.' Big cheers for this. The kids were out''everybody was enjoying Rocky''and those with him on the flatbed truck. Kirk, Rocky's brother, and several former Republican National Committee Chairmen, came in on the noise machine. In the background, Miami Mummers wearing pink and orange and yellow and white and sky-'blue satin out'ts with net wings and white feathers, Miami Beach angels playing triangles and glockenspiels piped up tinklings and cracklings of sweet sound. Oompah went the oompah drum. 'I o'er,' said Rocky, 'a choice. It is'.' .' . victory in November'.' .' . victory for four years.' He held up both hands in V for Victory signs. 'Eight years,' shouted someone from the crowd. 'I won't quibble,' said Rocky with a grin. But then, defeat licking at the center of this projected huge turnout which was 'nally not half huge enough, he added drily, 'The gentleman who just spoke must be from New York.' The rally ended, and a black sky mopped out the sun for ten minutes, hid the cumulus. Rain came in tropical force, water trying to work through that asphalt, reach the jungle beneath. Everyone scattered, those who were dressed not quite in time. The rain hit with a squall. And the luminaries on the flatbed truck went o? with Rocky''Leonard Hall, Bill Miller, and Meade Alcorn. It may be worthwhile to take a look at them. 5 The former Republican National Committee Chairmen who were committed to Rockefeller and had been out at Opa Locka were on display earlier in a press conference in the French Room of the Fountainebleau.
18norman NORMAN mailer A yellow drape hung behind a long table covered in kelly green. On the walls were wall paintings of pink ribbons and pink trumpets in heraldic hearts ten feet high; dirty blue drapes contested dingy wallpaper. A small piece of plaster was o? the ceiling in a corner. It was not a room equal to the talent present. Meade Alcorn 'rst, his presentation hard, driving, full of Wasp authority''his voice had a ring, 'I like to articulate it in terms of the greater electibility of Governor Rockefeller'''he had answered in response to a question whether he thought Richard Nixon, if nominated, might lose the election. By all agreement one of the few superb professionals in the Republican party, Alcorn had a friendly freckled face and sandy hair, black horn-'rims, a jaw which could probably crack a lobster claw in one bite, his voice drilled its authority. He was the kind of man who could look you in the eye while turning down your bid for a mortgage. 'We don't name the ballot where Rockefeller is going to take it. Could be the fourth, the 'fth. Wendell Willkie took it on the sixth. We expect a convention not unlike the one in 1940.' He hadn't been National Committee Chairman for nothing; whatever political stand he might be obliged to support came out with the crackling conviction of personal truth. Then Senator Hugh Scott of Pennsylvania was on. Scott had modest but impeccable aplomb as he explained that since only 12 per cent of the delegates had been in San Francisco in 1964, he did not expect bitterness from old Goldwater followers to hurt Rockefeller's chances now. A 'ne character actor had been lost when Hugh Scott went to politics''he could have played the spectrum from butler to count. Leonard Hall, heavy, imperturbable, was there with 'gures ''he counted 535 for Nixon, 350 for Rockefeller. He was a man noted for relative accuracy, but was probably structuring his 'gures today. He gave the impression of an extraordinarily intelligent man, in appearance not unlike Jack E. Leonard doing a straight turn, as if all of Jack E. Leonard's hyper-'acute intelligence had gone into the formidable bastions of Squaresville. 'My
NIXON IN MIAMI 19 goodness,' said Hall at one point, 'Rockefeller means the di'erence for thirty or forty Republican Congressmen between getting elected'.' .' . and being in trouble.' He was not about to say Nixon would certainly make them go down. 'These Congressmen are human beings. They want to win.' But picture Jack E.'Leonard talking like that. Some part of conviction was lacking. When Hall said 'My goodness? he looked too much like the director of the most impressive funeral establishment in the nation, the kind of man who certainly couldn't think much of you if, my goodness, you wouldn't spring ten thousand smackeroonies for a casket. There had also been Bill Miller, the man who had run for Vice President on Barry Goldwater's ticket in '64. Now he was supporting Rockefeller. When asked if he and Goldwater were still friends, he said, 'I've promised to go along with Governor Rockefeller, and he has said that if he is not nominated, he will support the convention's choice. Goldwater has said he will work for any? body the convention nominates. So sooner or later, Barry and I will be together again.' Miller had the big head, big nose, and little hunched shoulders which are reminiscent of an ex-'jockey. He had become popular with the Press during the last Presidential campaign. Becoming convinced somewhere en route that Barry's cause was hopeless, he had spent his time on the Vice Presidential campaign plane drinking bourbon and playing cards; when the plane came to a stop, he would get out, give his airport speech to the airport rally''usually a small crowd at a small airport''get back in the plane again, his card hand still warm, and pick up the play. Now he was wending his way through trick questions, emphasizing his long continuing relations with Rocke'feller, whom he had supported for election four times while Rockefeller indeed had supported him seven times, so no curiosity that he was back of Rocky now. Miller talked in a barking voice full of snap. Where it had once been disagreeable in a formal speech, it was not unattractive here. Maybe all that bourbon and bridge had mellowed him since '64''he no longer looked like the nastiest yap in town.
20norman NORMAN mailer To the contrary, he now had all the political oils. He was for Rockefeller because Rockefeller solved problems through action. 'You name a problem, and in New York we've got it.' So he went on to cite the Governor's 'ne record in highways and air pollution and conservation. It was hard to know just what he was talking about. Every year the traffic in New York was worse, and the air less possible to breathe, the Hudson River more polluted. It gave a hint of the extra-'terrestrial dimension where Rockefeller and his advisers must live. Plans, large projects, huge campaigns, government fundings, mass participation in government, successful prosecution of air pollution, comprehensive surveys of traffic control, people's candidate, public opinion polls''the feather of doubt would whisper that Rockefeller was better suited for the Democrats than the Republicans. There were nuts and bolts and small tools necessary for unscrewing a Republican delegate from a 'rst attachment to a second, and Rockefeller might have nothing smaller to employ than a bulldozer. But on to the Nixon camp. 6 The Orpheum Room in the Hilton Plaza where Herb Klein, Director of Press Relations for Nixon, held his conferences, looked like a public room for small gatherings which had been converted to a surgical theater. The approach was along a red corridor with red carpet, red ceiling, red velvet flock on the walls, and mirrors in gold frames, but the Orpheum Room had gold flock on a cream base in ivy 'gured wallpaper with heavy gold molding on the ceiling, and a gold and tan 'gured rug. Two huge glass chandeliers with about 800 prisms in each completed allegiance to the eighteenth century. The twentieth century was a foot away from the chandeliers in the form of a big square aluminum ba'e plate flush in the ceiling for air conditioning. The chairs for Press were the ubiquitous brown leatherette sprinkled with gold dust.
NIXON IN MIAMI 21 The podium was a structure covered with formica processed to look like walnut grain. Behind it hung a shrine-'like photograph of Richard Nixon, exhibiting the kind of colors one saw on Jack Kennedy photographs after his assassination; also on pictures of Manolete, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Abraham Lincoln. Klein was a slim neat man with a high forehead, a pleasant demeanor''men in public relations are not noted for disagree? able dispositions''and a smile which would have delivered the simile of a cat licking cream if no previous investor of the simile had yet existed. He was claiming 700 votes for Nixon on the 'rst ballot. Since Leonard Hall had insisted not two hours before that his most careful estimates put Nixon at 535, it was obvious'? both men revealing no shiver of incertitude''that one of them was a liar. Since Nixon would not be arriving until Monday, he had little news to o'er before introducing Governor John Volpe of Massachusetts, a Republican of Italian extraction who had come into prosperous political life by way of the construction business. Volpe was a self-'made man, and looked not unlike a small version of Rockefeller. He was no great orator as he read his prepared speech which declared him all-'out for Nixon, indeed he seemed to hire no great speech writers either. 'Americans see in Mr. Nixon a leader who can unite this country in an e'ort that will preserve and enhance our position in the world, while simultaneously providing the needed inspiration and new thoughts required in the next four years.' Sock it to 'em, Volpe! His strength was in other places. In concrete. All the while, standing behind him, Herb Klein smiled his happy tabby-'cat smile. They made a good pair standing side by side. When he smiled, Herb Klein's narrow eyes became slits. Just after Volpe smiled, his narrow mouth became a slit. It was a modest conference without much news and nothing was disturbed. Afterward came a fashion show: out'ts were shown for the Nixon dancers, and the Nixonaires'? airline stewardesses based in Miami who were willing or eager to
22norman NORMAN mailer work for Nixon in their spare time. A bevy of good-'looking chicks with sharp noses and tight mouths modelled the stu'. They were carefully balanced between blondes''Women for Nixon''wearing sleeveless blue A-'line cotton dresses, and several brunettes''Nixonaires'? in orange leatherette vests, white miniskirts, and black and white leatherette jockey caps. By the next day, when Nixon's daughters arrived, it was obvious that such notion of balance''blondes to share stage with brunettes''had been calculated for many an aspect of his campaign. There were, for instance, two complete bands in the lobby of the Hilton Plaza to celebrate the arrival of his daughters, and one band was white, the other Black. Yet if not for the mezzanine which was inlaid, it will be recollected, with red velvet flock for the walls and red fleur-'de-'lis for the rugs, the Hilton Plaza could have been converted to a hospital. Even with entertainment, the lobby was relatively bare and colorless. Compared to the Fontainebleau and the Americana it was ascetic. Hints of some future American empire and some future American sterility were in the seed of the architect's conception. It was 'lled now of course with the two bands and the Nixon Dancers and Nixonaires and TV cameras and crowds and Nixon workers and a man dressed like Uncle Sam on ten-'foot stilts who bore a curious but undeniable resemblance to Senator Eugene McCarthy. The Nixon daughters had come in to pleasant cheers, cries of pleasure from those who could see them in the crowd, the beating of the two bands, and they had passed through the crowd and into the lobby, both lovely looking girls. The older (who looked younger) was Tricia, gentle, bemused, a misty look to her face, but incontestably a beauty with very blonde hair. She had an extraordinary complexion''one would be forced to describe it with the terminology of the Victorian novel, alabaster and ivory could vie for prominence with peaches and cream. The other daughter, Julia, brown-'haired, apple-'cheeked, snub-'nosed, was healthy, genial, a perfect soubrette for a family comedy on television. She was as American as Corporate Bakeries apple pie.
NIXON IN MIAMI 23 And now engaged to David Eisenhower, grandson of Old Ike. It was an engagement which had caused much bitter chortling and a predictable tightening of the collective mouth when word came to liberal circles. There seemed at the time no limit to Richard Nixon's iniquity. But in fact daughter Julia was a nice-'looking girl, and Ike's grandson who looked to be not yet twenty had a pleasant face, more than a hint of innocence in it, not only small-? town but near to yokel, redeemed by the friendliest of simple smiles. An ambitious high school dramatics teacher might have picked him to play Billy Budd. The arrival of the girls and covert scrutiny of them by the reporter had produced one incontestable back-'slapping turn-'of-? the-'century gu'aw: a man who could produce daughters like that could not be all bad. The remote possibility of some re? appraisal of Richard Nixon was now forced to enter the works. It was, of course, remote, but the reporter was determined to be fair to all, and the notion was incontestably there. Nothing in his prior view of Nixon had ever prepared him to conceive of a man with two lovely girls. (Since the reporter had four 'ne daughters of his own, he was not inclined to look on such matters as accident.) And indeed later that night, the voice (agreeably well-? brought-'up but not remarkable) of one of Nixon's daughters was heard for a fragment of dialogue on radio. No, she was saying, their father had never spanked them. It was indicated that Mother had been the disciplinarian. 'But then,' the girl's voice went on, simple clarity, even honest devotion in the tone, 'we never wanted to displease him. We wanted to be good.' The reporter had not heard a girl make a remark like that about her father since his own mother had spoken in such fashion thirty-'odd years ago. Of course the remote contingency of reappraising Nixon had been kept comfortably remote by the nature of the entertainment provided in the lobby of the Hilton Plaza after the daughters had made their entrance and well-'regulated escape to some private suite upstairs. The Nixon Dancers were now entertaining the crowd. Thirty-'six adolescent girls all seemingly between 've
24norman NORMAN mailer feet, four inches and 've feet, six inches came out to dance various sorts of cheerleader-'type dances. Impossible to de'ne the steps more neatly, it was some sort of cross between television entertainment at half-'time and working on a farm team for the Rockettes. Later the girls made an exit in 'le, in pro'le, and a clear count was there to be made in noses. Six of the thirty-'six had aquiline curves, six were straight-'nosed, and the other twenty-'four had turned-'up buttons at the tip. Now heard was the white band. There were sixteen of them, about as good, and about as simple, as a good high school marching band. The Black band was something else, Eureka Brass Band by name, right out of Beale Street sixty years ago, ten Negroes in black pants, white shirts and white yachting caps with black visors did a Dixieland strut up and around the floor, led by their master, a tall disdainful wizardly old warlock, a big Black in a big black tuxedo, black felt Homburg on his head, medals and green sashes and Nixon buttons all over him. He was no ad for anybody but the most arcane Black Power, he was an old prince of a witch doctor''insult him at your peril''but the other ten musicians with their trumpets and snares and assorted brass would prove no pull for Nixon on TV with any Black votes watching, for they were old and meek, naught but elderly Black Southern musicians, a veritable Ganges of Uncle Toms. They had disappeared with Tom Swift and Little Lord Fauntleroy. 7 That evening at the Fountainebleau, on the night before the convention was to begin, the Republicans had their Grand Gala, no Press admitted, and the reporter by a piece of luck was nearly the 'rst to get in. The a'air was well-'policed, in fact strict in its security, for some of the most important Republican notables would be there, but strolling through the large crowd in the lobby the reporter discovered himself by accident in the immediate wake of
NIXON IN MIAMI 25 Governor Reagan's passage along a channel of security officers through the mob to the doors of the Gala. It was assumed by the people who gave way to the Governor that the reporter must be one of the plainclothesmen assigned to His Excellency's rear, and with a frown here, judicious tightening of his mouth there, look of concern for the Governor's welfare squeezed onto his map, o'ering a security officer's look superior to the absence of any ticket, he went right in through the ticket-'takers, having found time in that passage to observe Governor Reagan and his Lady, who were formally dressed to the hilt of the occasion, now smiling, now shaking hands, eager, tense, bird-'like, genial, not quite habituated to eminence, seeking to make brisk but not rude progress through the crowd, and obviously uneasy in the crowd (like most political 'gures) since a night in June in Los Angeles. It was an expected observation, but Mr. and Mrs. Reagan looked very much like an actor and actress playing Governor and Wife. Still Reagan held himself sort of uneasily about the middle, as if his solar plexus were fragile, and a clout would leave him like a 'sh on the floor. Once inside the ballroom, however, the reporter discovered that the Governor had been among the 'rst guests to enter. His own position was therefore not comfortable. Since there were no other guests among whom to mix (nothing but two hundred and forty empty tables with settings for two thousand people, all still to come in) and no cover to conceal him but small potted trees with oranges attached by green wire, since Security might be furious to the point of cop-'mania catching him thus early, there was no choice but to take up a stand twenty feet from the door, his legs at parade rest, his arms clasped behind, while he scrutinized the entrance of everybody who came in. Any security of'cer studying him might therefore be forced to conclude that he belonged to other Security. Suffice it, he was not approached in his position near the entrance, and for the next thirty minutes looked at some thousand Republicans coming through the gate, the other thousand entering out of view by an adjacent door.
26norman NORMAN mailer It was not a crowd totally representative of the power of the Republican Party. Some poor delegates may have been there as guests, and a few other delegates might have chosen to give their annual contribution of $1,000 for husband and wife here ($500 a plate) rather than to some other evening of fund raising for the party, indeed an air of sobriety and quiet dress was on many of the Republicans who entered. There were women who looked like librarians and schoolteachers, there were middle-'aged men who looked like they might be out for their one night of the year. The Eastern Establishment was of course present in degree, and powers from the South, West, Midwest, but it was not a gang one could hold up in comparative glitter to an opening at the Met. No, rather, it was modesty which hung over these well-'bred subscribers to the Gala. Still, exceptions noted, they were obviously in large part composed of a thousand of the wealthiest Republicans in the land, the corporate and social power of America was here in legions of interconnection he could not even begin to trace. Of necessity, a measure of his own ignorance came over him, for among those thousand, except for candidates, politicians and faces in the news, there were not ten people he recognized. Yet here they were, the economic power of America (so far as economic power was still private, not public) the family power (so far as position in society was still a passion to average and ambitious Americans) the military power (to the extent that important sword-'rattlers and/or patriots were among the company, as well as cadres of corporations not unmarried to the Pentagon) yes, even the spiritual power of America ( just so far as Puritanism, Calvinism, conservatism and golf still gave the Wasp an American faith more intense than the faith of cosmopolitans, one-'worlders, trade-'unionists, Black militants, New Leftists, acid-'heads, tribunes of the gay, families of Ma'a, political machinists, 'xers, swingers, Democratic lobbyists, members of the Grange, and government workers, not to include the Weltanschauung of every partisan in every minority group). No, so far as there was an American faith, a
NIXON IN MIAMI 27 belief, a mystique that America was more than the sum of its constituencies, its trillions of dollars and billions of acres, its constellation of factories, empyrean of communications, mountain transcendant of 'nance, and heroic of sport, transports of medicine, hygiene, and church, so long as belief persisted that America, 'nally more than all this, was the world's ultimate reserve of rectitude, 'nal garden of the Lord, so far as this mystique could survive in every American family of Christian substance, so then were the people entering this Gala willy-'nilly the leaders of this faith, never articulated by any of them except in the most absurd and taste-'curdling jargons of patriotism mixed with religion, but the faith existed in those crossroads between the psyche and the heart where love, hate, the cognition of grace, the all but lost sense of the root, and adoration of America congregate for some. Their own value was in this faith, the workings of their seed from one generation into the next, their link to the sense of what might be life-'force was in the faith. Yes, primitive life was there, and ancestral life, health concealed in their own flesh from towns occupied and once well-'settled, from farms which prospered, and frontiers they had''through ancestors''dared to pass. They believed in America as they believed in God''they could not really ever expect that America might collapse and God yet survive, no, they had even gone so far as to think that America was the savior of the world, food and medicine by one hand, sword in the other, highest of high faith in a nation which would bow the knee before no problem since God's own strength was in the die. It was a faith which had flared so high in San Francisco in 1964 that staid old Republicans had come near to frothing while they danced in the aisle, there to nominate Barry, there to nominate Barry. But their hero had gone down to a catastrophe of defeat, blind in politics, impolite in tactics, a sorehead, a fool, a disaster. And if his policies had prevailed to some degree, to the degree of escalating the war in Vietnam, so had that policy depressed some part of America's optimism to the bottom of the decade, for the country had learned an almost unendurable lesson'? its history in Asia
28norman NORMAN mailer was next to done, and there was not any real desire to hold armies on that land; worse, the country had begun to wear away inside, and the specter of Vietnam in every American city would haunt the suburb, the terror of a dollar cut loose from every standard of economic anchor was in the news, and some of the best of the youth were mad demented dogs with teeth in the flesh of the deepest Republican faith. They were a chastened collocation these days. The high 're of hard Republican faith was more modest now, the vision of America had diminished. The claims on Empire had met limits. But it was nonetheless uncommon, yes bizarre, for the reporter to stand like an agent of their security as these leaders of the last American faith came through to the Gala, for, repeat: they were in the main not impressive, no, not by the hard eye of New York. Most of them were ill-'proportioned in some part of their physique. Half must have been, of course, men and women over 'fty and their bodies reflected the pull of their character. The dowager's hump was common, and many a man had a flaccid paunch, but the collective tension was rather in the shoulders, in the girdling of the shoulders against anticipated lashings on the back, in the thrust forward of the neck, in the maintenance of the muscles of the mouth forever locked in readiness to bite the tough meat of resistance, in a posture forward from the hip since the small of the back was dependably sti', loins and mind cut away from each other by some abyss between navel and hip. More than half of the men wore eyeglasses, young with old'? the reporter made his count, close as a professional basketball game, and gave up by the time his score was up to Glasses 87, No Glasses 83. You could not picture a Gala Republican who was not clean-'shaven by eight a.m. Coming to power, they could only conceive of trying to clean up every situation in sight. And so many of the women seemed victims of the higher hygiene. Even a large part of the young seemed to have faces whose cheeks had been injected with Novocain. Yet he felt himself unaccountably 'lled with a mild sorrow.
NIXON IN MIAMI 29 He did not detest these people, he did not feel so superior as to pity them, it was rather he felt a sad sorrowful respect. In their immaculate cleanliness, in the somewhat antiseptic odors of their astringent toilet water and perfume, in the abnegation of their walks, in the heavy sturdy moves so many demonstrated of bodies in life's harness, there was the muted tragedy of the Wasp''they were not on earth to enjoy or even perhaps to love so very much, they were here to serve, and serve they had in public functions and public charities (while recipients of their charity might vomit in rage and laugh in scorn), served on opera committees, and served in long hours of duty at the piano, served as the sentinel in concert halls and the pews on the aisle in church, at the desk in schools, had served for culture, served for 'nance, served for salvation, served for America''and so much of America did not wish them to serve any longer, and so many of them doubted themselves, doubted that the force of their faith could illumine their path in these new modern horror-'head times. On and on, they came through the door, the clean, the well-'bred, the extraordinarily prosperous, and for the most astonishing part, the almost entirely proper. Yes, in San Francisco in '64 they had been able to be insane for a little while, but now they were subdued, now they were modest, now they were looking for a leader to bring America back to them, their lost America, Jesusland. 'Nelson Rockefeller is out of his mind if he thinks he can take the nomination away from Richard Nixon,' the reporter said suddenly to himself. It was the 'rst certitude the convention had given. 8 Still, Rockefeller was trying. He had been mounting a massive o'ensive for weeks. In speeches which came most often as prepared announcements for television and in full-'page advertise-
30norman NORMAN mailer ments in newspapers all over the country, he had been saturating America with Rockefeller philosophy, paying for it with Rockefeller money, the rhetoric in the style of that Madison Avenue Eminent, Emmet Hughes. On Vietnam: The country must never again ''nd itself with a commitment looking for a justi'cation.'.' .' . The war has been conducted without a coherent strategy or program for peace.' Of course he had been until recently a hawk with the hawks'? like Nixon, he was now a dove of a hawk, a dove of a hawk like all the Republicans but Reagan. The ads had come with text in 20-'point type, 30-'point type, larger. 'We must assure to all Americans two basic rights: the right to learn and the right to work.' (The right to learn would come in mega-'universities with lectures pulled in on television and study halls with plastic bucket seats''the right to work? or was it the right to take pride in one's work') On Cities: '.' .' . the con'dence that we can rebuild our great cities''making slums of old despair into centers of new hope.'.' .' .' Or: 'I see'.' .' . the welfare concept'.' .' . as a floor below which nobody will be allowed to fall, but with no ceiling to prevent anyone from rising as high as he wants to rise.' It was the best of potency-'rhetoric for the thriving liberal center of America where most of the action was, building contracts, federal money for super-'highways, youth programs for the slums, wars against poverty, bigotry, violence, and hate. (But how did one go to war with hate? 'On your knees, mother-'fucker!' said the saint.) Yes, Rockefeller had only to win the nomination and it might take an act of God to keep him from the Presidency. He was the dream candidate for all Democratic voters''they could repudiate Johnson and Humphrey and still have the New Deal, the Fair Deal, Stevenson, Eleanor Roosevelt, Kennedy, Bobby Kennedy, Gene McCarthy, and Folk Rock with Rocky. He would get three-'quarters of the Democrats? votes. Of course he would get only one-'fourth of the Republicans? votes (the rest would go to
NIXON IN MIAMI 31 Humphrey or Wallace or stay at home) but he would be in, he could unite the country right down that liberal center which had given birth to a Great Society, a war in Vietnam, and a permanent state of police alert in the cities in the summer. He was like a general who had mounted the most massive offensive of a massive war but had neglected to observe that the enemy was not on his route, and the line of march led into a swamp. Rockefeller took out ads, pushed television, worked with hip musicians and groovy bands (Cannonball Adderley, Lionel Hampton) got out the young at every rally (the adolescents too young to vote) hobnobbed with governors and senators, made the phone calls, hit the high pressure valve (Bill Miller and Meade Alcorn and Leonard Hall and Thruston Morton called in old debts from old friends) hit the hustings in his plane. 'Hiya fellow,'''did everything but enter the campaign at the right time, 'ght it out in the primaries, or design his attack for the molli'cation of Republican fears. He did everything but exercise choice in serving up the best political greens and liver juice for the rehabilitation of Republican pride. In secret he may have detested the Average Republican'? it was no secret that same Republican hated him: they had never forgiven each other for his divorce and his remarriage. A man married for thirty-'two years should have known all marital misery by then'? to smash such a scene spoke to the average Republican of massive instability, no fear of God, an obvious hankering for the orgiastic fats of the liberal center, and no saving secret gifts of hypocrisy''this latter being indispensable, reasons the conservative mind, to prudence and protection in government. Besides, the sort of passion for a late-'entering candidate which can lead a delegate to make a last-'minute switch in his choice must have roots in hysteria, and thereby be near to that incandescent condition of the soul when love and/or physical attraction is felt for three or four people at once. Hysteria is not in high demand among Republicans. Their lives have been geared to keep m'nage-''-'trois at a minimum. If love is then sometimes also at a
32norman NORMAN mailer minimum, well, that's all right. Misers can feel vertiginous titillation if they are worked upon for years to give up their coin, their kiss, their delegate's vote. And Nixon had worked on them for many months and just some of those years, you bet! The miser giving up his gift once is the happiest of men''being asked to switch his choice again is the invitation to hysteria'? it can only end by sending him to the nut house, the poorhouse, or a school for the whirling dervish. What Rockefeller needed was delegate votes, not millions of Americans sending good thoughts. There were dreams of repeating Wendell Willkie's sixth ballot in 1940, but those were scandalous military dreams, for Republicans then hated Roosevelt to such distraction they would have nominated any man who had a chance against him, whereas in 1968 their loyalty was to the philosophy of the party''to Republicanism! Rocky had spent and would spend, it was said, ten million bucks to get the nomination. (One journalist remarked that he would have done better to buy delegates: at $25,000 a delegate, he could have had four hundred.) On Sunday afternoon, there was an opportunity to see how the money was spent. Some rich men are famous for penury'? it was Rocky's own grandfather after all who used to pass out the thin dime. But generosity to a rich man is like hysteria to a miser: once entertain it, and there's no way to stop''the bitch is in the house. Having engaged the habit of spending, where was Rocky to quit? After the television came the rallies and the chartered planes; now in Miami, the rented river boats on Island Creek for delegates who wanted an afternoon of booze on an inland waterway yacht; or the parties. Rocky threw open the Americana for a Sunday reception and supper for the New York delegation. On Monday from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m., after Nixon's arrival, he gave a giant reception for all delegates, alternates and Republican leadership. The party jammed the Continental Room and the Grand Ballroom of the Americana, and the numbers could not be counted; 5,000 could have gone through, 6,000, the Times estimated 8,000 guests and
NIXON IN MIAMI 33 a cost of $50,000. Half of Miami Beach may have passed through for the free meal and the drinks. On the tables (eight bars, sixteen bu'et tables) thousands of glasses were ready with ice cubes; so too were ready shrimp and cocktail sauce, potted meat balls, turkeys, hams, goulash, aspic, 'clairs, pigs in blankets, chicken liver, p't? de volailles, vats of caviar (black), lady'ngers, jelly rings, celebration cakes''where were the crepes suzette? What wonders of the American gut. On the bandstand in each room, a band; in the Continental Room, dark as a night club (indeed a night club on any other night) Lionel Hampton was vibrating a beat right into the rich middle octave of a young Black singer giving up soul for Rocky. 'We want Rocky,' went the chant. Sock'.' .' . sock'.' .' . went the beat, driving, lightly hypnotic, something reminiscent in the tempo of shots on the rim of the snare when the drummer backs the stripper's bumps. But Rocky wasn't coming out now, he was somewhere else, so members of his family, his older children and wives of his older children and sister and Helen Hayes and Billy Daniels were out on the stage with Hampton and the happy young Black singer snapping his 'ngers and the happy Black girl singer full of soul and zap and breasts! Everybody was eating, drinking''young Rockefeller family up there on happiness beat, arms locked, prancing, natives of Miami Beach on the floor cheering it up, America ready to truck its happiness right out on One World Highway One. And here and there a delegate, or a delegate's family from Ohio or Colorado or Illinois, delegate's badge on the lapel, mixed look of curiosity, wonder, and pleasure in the eye: 'If the man wants to throw his money around like that, well, we're not here to stop him!' And the pleasure in the eye is reserved for the thought of telling the home folks about the swinishness, sottishness, and waste expenditure of the occasion. 'They were spilling half the drinks they were in such a hurry to serve them up.' And in the corridor between the Caribbean Room and the Ballroom a jam of guests. The line would not move. Trapped in the rush hour again. In the 'rst world war, Marshal Haig used to
34norman NORMAN mailer send a million men over the top in a frontal attack. One hundred yards would be gained, one hundred thousand casualties would be the price. It was possible Nelson Rockefeller was the Marshal Haig of presidential hopefuls. Rich men should not surround themselves with other rich men if they want to win a war. 9 Nixon had come in earlier that day. A modestly large crowd, perhaps six hundred at the entrance to the Miami Hilton, two bands playing 'Nixon's the One,' and the Nixonettes and the Nixonaires, good clean blonde and brown-haired ? Christian faces, same two Negresses, a cluster of 2,000 balloons going up in the air, flings of color, thin dots of color, and Nixon himself 'nally in partial view at the center of the semicircle of cameras held overhead. Just a glimpse: he has a sunburn''his forehead is bright pink. Then he has made it into the hotel, pushed from behind, hands in hand-'shakes from the front, hair recognizable'? it is curlier than most and combed in roller coaster waves, not unreminiscent of the head of hair on Gore Vidal. (But where was Nixon's Breckenridge') The crowd had been enthusiastic without real hurly-'burly or hint of pandemonium. More in a state of respectful enthusiasm, and the hot patriotic cupidity to get near the man who is probably going to be the next American President. The office, not the man, is moving them. And Nixon passes through them with the odd stick-'like motions which are so much a characteristic of his presence. He is like an actor with good voice and hordes of potential, but the despair of his dramatic coach (again it is High School). 'Dick, you just got to learn how to move.' There is something almost touching in the way he does it, as if sensitive flesh winces at the way he must expose his lack of heart for being warm and really winning in crowds, and yet he is all heart to perform his task, as if the total unstinting exercise of the will must
NIXON IN MIAMI 35 'nally deliver every last grace, yes, he is like a missionary handing out Bibles among the Urdu. Christ, they are 'lthy fellows, but deserving of the touch. No, it is not so much that he is a bad actor (for Nixon in a street crowd is radiant with emotion to reach across the prison pen of his own arti'cial moves and deadly reputation and show that he is sincere) it is rather that he grew up in the worst set of schools for actors in the world''white gloves and church usher, debating team, Young Republicanism, captive of Ike's forensic style''as an actor, Nixon thinks his work is to signify. So if he wants to show someone that he likes them, he must smile; if he wishes to show disapproval of Communism, he frowns; America must be strong, out goes his chest. Prisoner of old habit or unwitting of a new kind of move, he has not come remotely near any modern moves, he would not be ready to see that the young love McCarthy because he plays forever against his line. 'If I'm nominated, I can't see how I'd possibly fail to win,' says McCarthy in a gloomy modest mild little voice, then his eyes twinkle at the myriad of consequences to follow: raps in the newspaper about his arrogance, the sheer delicious zaniness of any man making any claim about his candidacy''yes, many people love McCarthy because his wan wit is telling them, 'We straddle ultimates: spitballs and eternals.' Nixon has never learned this. He is in for the straight sell. No wonder he foundered on 'America can't stand pat.' But the reporter is obsessed with him. He has never written anything nice about Nixon. Over the years he has saved some of his sharpest comments for him, he has disliked him intimately ever since his Checkers speech in 1952''the kind of man who was ready to plough sentimentality in such a bog was the kind of man who would press any button to manipulate the masses''and there was large fear in those days of buttons which might ignite atomic wars. Nixon's presence on television had inspired emotions close to nausea. There had been a gap between the man who spoke and the man who lived behind the speaker which o'ered every clue of schizophrenia in the American public if they failed