Two hearts, separated by time and history, yet united by later time and later history: This is the story of America’s most beloved public figures, Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton, and the deep relationship they shared.
It was a different time, in the 1990s, and our society was not ready for these two men to publicly show such affection for one another. Like so many before them, Clinton and Nixon confined their relationship to letters and the occasional televised media event at the White House. Correspondence between the two star-crossed presidents is part of a new exhibit at the Nixon Presidential Library and Museum in Yorba Linda, California.
In another glimpse into their relationship, a handwritten note will be on display from Nixon to Clinton that praises the former Arkansas governor’s 1992 presidential campaign that helped put him in the White House. Nixon said the campaign was one of the best he had ever witnessed.
“The strongest steel must pass through the hottest fire. In enduring that ordeal you have demonstrated that you have the character to lead not just America but the forces of peace and freedom in the world,” Nixon wrote.
[Clinton] led the nation in paying tribute to Nixon at his funeral in California in April 1994, declaring, “May the day of judging President Nixon on anything less than his entire life and career come to a close.”
On this Valentine’s Day, perhaps we can all learn a lesson from these two great men. Perhaps we can love one another, after all.
Photo courtesy of the William J. Clinton Library.