Jim Popkin and Jeffrey Frank are our guests this week.
Show produced by Katherine Caperton.
Original Air Date: May 11, 2013 on SiriusXM “POTUS” Channel 124.
PoliOptics airs regularly on POTUS on Saturdays at 6 am, 12 noon and 6 pm.
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Two really great guests this week.
When, in late November, 1992, I packed up my water-leaky Volkswagon Jetta and moved permanently to Washington, D.C., I eventually arrived at my first apartment at 1850 Wyoming Avenue in the Adams Morgan neighborhood. My upstairs neighbors were Jim Popkin and his ultra-fabulous wife Robin Goldman. Jim was, back then, a writer for U.S. News and World Report, but he would soon begin a storied career as an investigative producer for NBC News, a gig that would bring him face-to-face with some of the most compelling stories of the 1990s and 2000s.
Jim now runs his own firm, Seven Oaks Media, that helps clients put their best foot forward when hard-charging news producers like Jim Popkin come knocking at their door.
When he’s not on the clock with his clients, Jim keeps his reporting skills fresh, most recently for the Washington Post with his acclaimed long-form piece, “The Queen of Cuba,” about Ana Montes, Castro’s woman at the DIA. The story is a great read and, in an Argo-like way, well worth making into a major motion picture.
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I was in Laguna Beach recently with a free day on my hands and a loaner silver Mercedes convertible 550. After spending a few hours coursing my way through the curvy turns of Ortega Highway, listening to the soft 70’s rock of SiriusXM’s Ch. 32 “The Bridge” (yeah, that’s me), I set my GPS for 18001 Yorba Linda Blvd. in Yorba Linda, California, home of the Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum (yeah, that’s me too).
Like many I can’t get enough of Nixon, and the Library is a special place. While the Mercedes sat parked in library in the the hot California sun, I spent hours among the exhibits, period photography and uniquely odd Nixon ephemera.
I was with President Clinton late in the evening of April 22, 1994, the night Nixon died at age 81. Most everyone else had gone home, but I looked forward to giving Nixon a special send-off by the current president, and choreographed the long walk for the camera down the colonnade in the White House Rose Garden. Clinton looked at me as he sometimes did when he thought my stagecraft was a bit over the top, but I thought Nixon had earned the treatment.
Jeffrey Frank has also given Nixon the treatment in his excellent new book, Ike and Dick: Portrait of a Strange Political Marriage, which takes us through 19 years of tumultuous American history, from the moment Ike taps Nixon to be his Vice Presidential nominee for the 1952 campaign (we’ll always have “the Checkers speech”) to the emotionally-wrenching final few weeks in which President Nixon bids farewell to his paternal mentor at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.
In his conversation with us, Jeff and I had a great time replaying classic Nixon moments (“They won’t have Nixon to kick around anymore”) and offering new context and new insights into an endlessly fascinating American character.
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