Friends and family of Richard Nixon gathered last night at the Mayflower Hotel to celebrate the 37th president’s legacy on what would have been his 100th birthday.
“He would be knocking heads together. He wouldn’t pussyfoot around,” said Fred Malek, the founder and chairman of Thayer Lodging Group Inc., about how Nixon would have handled the fiscal-cliff negotiations.
Malek was the vice chairman of the evening, which was hosted by the Richard Nixon Foundation, which has raised $4.5 million for the Nixon Centennial Legacy Campaign, helping to support the Nixon Library in Yorba Linda, California.
Photos, videos and campaign buttons fed the spirit of nostalgia for what author and former Nixon aide Pat Buchanan called “the age of Nixon.”
Among the guests were Henry Kissinger and former Republican senators Fred Thompson and Elizabeth Dole. A birthday cake in the shape of the house where Nixon was born was served after the three-course dinner.
Dole, in bright yellow, attended without her husband, former Majority Leader Bob Dole, and said that she’s always been grateful to Nixon for appointing her to the Federal Trade Commission at a time when professional women were especially rare in government.
Congressman Leonard Lance, New Jersey Republican, recalled his memories of Nixon’s 1968 and 1972 presidential campaigns. Lance’s father presided over the Electoral College in New Jersey, which voted for Nixon.
Kissinger held court as photographers and well-wishers huddled around him.
Representing Nixon’s family were his brother, Edward, and daughters Tricia Nixon Cox and Julie Nixon Eisenhower.
“He was the greatest president of the 20th century,” said actor and former Nixon speechwriter Ben Stein, ticking off his boss’s foreign policy strides in China and Russia.
Nixon’s Secretary of Commerce Frederick Dent said the president has never received credit for his accomplishments, because “it’s all about Watergate.”
Stein said that he’s often asked in Hollywood why he defends Nixon: “I’ll never turn my back on a peacemaker.”
This weekend the Washington Winter Show, also known as the Washington Antiques Show, will celebrate “the thrill of the chase” with antiques from the sporting life. Expect to see equine statues and Hermes luxuries.
The event will run through Jan. 13 at American University’s Katzen Arts Center. Proceeds will benefit a number of charities. Penny Chenery, owner of Secretariat, is the honorary chairwoman, and PNC Bank is the presenting sponsor.
(Stephanie Green is a writer and photographer for Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News. Any opinions expressed are her own.)
Muse highlights include Rich Jaroslovsky on technology and Jason Harper on supercars.