THE SECOND YEAR OF THE NIXON WATCH by John Osborne

THE SECOND YEAR OF THE NIXON WATCH

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Osborne, who patrols the Potomac for the New Republic, has suffered disenchantment over the course of the last twelve months. Like The Nixon Watch (1970) the present collection focuses on rising and failing constellations within the President's entourage with cool appraisals of cabinet shakeups (Hickel, Finch, Schultz), the passing of Moynihan and the bright young men (leaving because ""the time for innovation is past""), and the malfunctioning of the Kissinger system (""Henry's wonderful machine"") which led to the Cambodian ""madness."" Despite the Haynsworth/Carswell fiasco the ascendancy of Atty. Gen. Mitchell has not diminished and the recently heralded modulations in Agnewism are deemed ""small and illusionary."" Osborne diagnoses a hardening of Presidential attitudes and communications arteries coinciding with the early exhaustion of reform programs (welfare, national health). Last year's fond hope -- that the man would rise to the office, ""decent and credible,"" has dimmed. Instead he detects alarming fissures in the imperturbability and dispassionate efficiency: glimpses of the President ""letting himself go"" on the campaign stump and following the Carswell rejection make Osborne shudder, evidently fearful of some atavistic lapse into the old Nixon of Me Six Crises. There is a cautiously ominous warning that the entire Nixon Vietnam policy -- negotiations and Vietnamization -- is on the verge of bankruptcy with everything about Indo-China (including the pledge of no ground troops in Cambodia and Laos) ""subject to change."" Noting that Nixon's advisers are bitter about the ""sour and persistent disbelief"" of the press, Osborne finds himself sour and disbelieving.

Pub Date: April 1st, 1971
Publisher: Liveright