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Presidential trivia

Presidential trivia
Published 17 Sep 2014   Follow @SamRoggeveen

Two anecdotes I have stumbled on recently from reviews of Rick Perlstein's The Invisible Bridge, a new book about the US conservative movement.

First, did you know Richard Nixon invented the term 'Missing in Action'?:

The ’70s also marked the high tide of the American Right. Much of the country was discomfited by protests, drugs, and crime...In The Invisible Bridge, (Perlstein) describes how Nixon invented the category of soldiers “Missing in Action” (who, in previous wars, would have been called “Killed in Action / Body Unrecovered”) to rile up the home front against peaceniks, making it seem as though they were determined to abandon soldiers on the field of combat.

And here's a great anecdote about Reagan and the 1973 Arab-Israeli war:

Kissinger...solicited him for advice on the extraordinarily delicate matter of how to frame an Israeli resupply operation that, if handled incorrectly, could lead to a military confrontation with the Soviet Union. Reagan suggested: "Why don't you say you will replace all the aircraft the Arabs claim they have shot down?"

This was brilliant. Since the Arabs were wildly exaggerating their success, presenting them with a Hobson's choice—saying nothing or facing international humiliation—was perfect. Reagan's interpersonal intelligence was something to behold.

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