- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 17, 2007

The Aug. 25, 1952, issue of Time magazine had a portrait of Sen. Richard Nixon on its cover. It is a smiling and benign Mr. Nixon, freshly chosen as Dwight Eisenhower’s running mate, with none of the caricature and dark countenance that was to come in his tumultuous national political career over the next two decades.

Mr. Nixon’s life story is treated sympathetically in the cover story inside the magazine. This is no surprise since Time in 1952 was a Republican-leaning news magazine, just as the Time magazine of today, and even more so, its rival Newsweek, leans to the liberal wing of the Democratic Party. Singled out was Mr. Nixon’s role as a congressman in exposing Alger Hiss in that era of anti-Communist sentiment in Washington. Mr. Nixon’s role in the Hiss case is contrasted with the reckless demagoguery of his later colleague, Sen. Joseph McCarthy. History has not been kind to Mr. McCarthy’s role in this era, but it has exonerated Mr. Nixon’s. Alger Hiss was found guilty of perjury at the time, but many on the left naively held on to the belief that he was unjustly accused and prosecuted. Thanks to the exhaustive scholarship and investigation of such figures as John Earle Haynes and Harvey Klehr, however, the extent of communist infiltration of the U.S. government in that era, and the role of Alger Hiss as a Soviet agent and traitor, have been proven incontrovertibly.

Republicans, it should be noted, did not have a monopoly on anti-Communism in that era.

Although he was to emerge nationally at a later time, Hubert Humphrey had been elected mayor of Minneapolis in 1946 after consolidating the Communist-dominated Farmer-Labor Party with the state Democratic Party (it’s still called the Democratic-Farmer-Labor party), and thus pushed the communists out of Minnesota politics. In 1948, after a sensational civil-rights speech at the Democratic National Convention, Mr. Humphrey was first elected to the Senate, two years before Mr. Nixon was.

This issue of Time came out 55 years ago. But, in addition to the cover story about vice presidential nominee Nixon, it contained some other new items which have some pertinence today. Under the headline “Hey King — One More!” the story of Iraq’s 17-year-old King Faisal II is recounted as he visits a baseball game at Ebbets Field in Brooklyn and meets Jackie Robinson.

Just as now, the State Department was wooing the Iraqis and the Saudi Arabians. (Earlier, the magazine recounts, Saudi King Ibn Saud had gone home mad after being picketed in New York City.) In another article on Egypt, “The Boss Takes a Hand,” one of current Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak’s predecessors, strongman Mohammed Naguib, is described as imposing his will on the government, saying, there are “still in the country elements who actively working to frustrate our movement. We’ll crush them — we’ll shoot them if necessary.” Next to the article on Egypt was an article on Iran, “Two Steps Forward,” which describes Iranian strongman Mohammed Mossadegh’s efforts to reform the ancient Persian empire without a communist takeover. Mr. Mossadegh’s efforts are described in the article sympathetically, but soon afterwards he was removed by the British in favor of the shah of Iran. The shah was later overthrown by the current regime of the ayatollahs.

It seems that, when it comes to the Middle East, things do not change all that much.

There was no war in Iraq then, but we were still at war in Korea in 1952. Time noted that a half-million American troops had then served in the Korean War, including 20,167 who had died.

The war was a central issue in the upcoming presidential election between Adlai Stevenson and Dwight Eisenhower. Incumbent and retiring President Harry Truman was very unpopular, and widely criticized for getting us into the Korean War. (Our troops are still there.) I am mentioning all of this because 1952 was the last presidential election until now when an incumbent president or vice president was not running. In 1952, not only was President Eisenhower elected for the first of two terms, but the campaign brought onto the national political scene a figure, Mr. Nixon, who would play a powerful role in American politics until his resignation in disgrace 22 years later.

I am not suggesting that the winning vice presidential candidate in 2008 will end up the same way, but I do think we have to think seriously about not only who should be president next year, but also who will share the ticket with him or her, and considering American political history, how that running mate might emerge in our national politics long after this election.

Barry Casselman writes about national politics for Preludium News Service.

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