Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Dead white guy II

I made a mistake in my mass e-mail announcement. I referred to former vice president Spiro Agnew as a "former presidential candidate." In fact, he was a vice-presidential candidate and ran successfully with Richard Nixon on the 1968 and 72 tickets. Here's an excerpt from about the origin of the "nattering nabobs" line:

"'Nattering nabobs of negativism' is one of the most popular turns of phrase associated with U.S. Vice President Spiro T. Agnew, who served under Richard Nixon until resigning in October 1974, after pleading no contest to charges of tax fraud. Agnew, who had a particularly acrimonious relationship with the press, used this term to refer to the members of the media, whom he also deemed "an effete corps of impudent snobs."
According to the Congressional Record, this term was first used during Agnew's address to the California Republican state convention in San Diego on September 11, 1970. In context, it was used together with another well-known Agnew alliteration: "In the United States today, we have more than our share of the nattering nabobs of negativism. They have formed their own 4-H Club -- the "hopeless, hysterical hypochondriacs of history."
Although this phrase is often credited to Agnew himself, it was actually written by William Safire, the legendary columnist for The New York Times, who was a speechwriter for Richard Nixon and Spiro Agnew. Some of Agnew's other pearls were actually written by Patrick Buchanan, another White House speechwriter at the time. "

Thanks to my uncle Jack for correcting my earlier assertion. I'd assumed Agnew ran for President in the primaries and was chosen from the pool of losers. Actually, Agnew was Governor of Maryland when Nixon asked him to run as VP in 1968. Agnew resigned from office in 1974, pleading no-contest to tax fraud, and died in 1996.