THE PRESIDENCY: An Appearance of Normalcy

In moments of severe stress, like last week, the little things count. Old friendships, normal routines, the familiar and comfortable become as studied and engrossing as high policy.

Richard Nixon came down to breakfast one day and he told his loyal Republican leaders that he did not usually eat such breakfasts. But, "Let's eat," he said. The White House waiters hustled in the scrambled and poached eggs, the rashers of bacon and sausage. Nixon began to talk congressional politics, calling on G.O.P. National Chairman George Bush to run down the coming elections. In the morning light Nixon was a realist. His...

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