1 Big Thing: The Power of Nixonian Aplomb

March 18, 2022


• Smart Brevity™ count: 624 words ... 3¼ minutes.

I'll never forget the moment I checked my email inbox this morning and found a heartfelt note from our greatest living president, Andrew writes. "You're an MVP," the subject line read. Donald J. Trump, perhaps the hardest-working businessman in the world, had taken the time to reach out to a lowly journalist.

• "I want you to know how important you are to me," he wrote. "Despite everything the Left has thrown at us (and it has been A LOT), YOU have never let me down."

Why it matters: Naturally, I was overcome with emotion. Maybe it was the email, or maybe it was because the "allergy medication" I'd been taking every morning this week was actually MDMA. (Long story.) I was also a little confused. Just "an" MVP? Is that even a thing?

I needed answers. Fortunately, they would come in the form of another email delivered to my inbox late last night: Axios founder Jim VandeHei's brief yet smart take on "the power of radical humility," presented by Emergent BioSolutions.  It was a profoundly moving tribute to his colleague and cofounder, Mike Allen.

• "We often celebrate those who break things, invent things or build things with bravado. But I have learned more studying two men of uncommon modesty: Mikey [Allen] and the late Fred Rogers, a.k.a. Mister Rogers," VandeHei wrote. "The two are eerily similar in subtlety and selflessness."

The big picture: I finally understood what Trump was trying to tell me. The most important part about being an MVP is telling others why they're also MVPs, and I wasn't going to be outdone by a bunch of Axios nerds. To paraphrase Alonzo Harris from Training Day: King Kong, much less Mikey Allen, ain't got shit on my Washington Free Beacon colleagues.

Be smart: Allen isn't the only Beltway bigwig to be profiled in the New York Times. I fondly remember asking Michael Goldfarb, our esteemed chairman, how he escalated his capacity for what the Times called "gleeful evisceration" even as his public prominence—and power—soared, Andrew writes.

• "It's called not giving a f—," he said over cocktails at the St. Regis Hotel. "Anyone can wear the 'big boy pants' and prance around for 15 minutes. Very few have what it takes to live in those pants, to keep putting them on day in and day out, to sleep in them if necessary."

What they're saying: Of all the phrases Mr. Goldfarb's (many) admirers use while attempting to put his eminence into words, there is one that keeps cropping up: "Nixonian aplomb." Like our 37th president, he is a man of uncharacteristic confidence and no discernible weaknesses, unless you count working too hard, caring too much, and refusing to rest until his enemies are snuffed out under the formidable bootheel of justice.

Go deeper: Alas, Nixon was a quitter. Mr. Goldfarb is not. The same is true of Free Beacon editor in chief Eliana Johnson and executive editor Brent Scher. Together they comprise a Holy Trinity of neoconservative swagger, the real MVP: machismo, vigilance, and preemptive war. They aren't slobs, either. They spend significantly more on clothes than they do on donuts for Free Beacon colleagues. They are maddeningly private at times. But so was the legend Dick Cheney.

Leadership is the willingness to shoot an acquaintance in the face and never apologize.

Authentic humility is knowing when to exert your superiority over the pathetic libs who populate the media industry.

Try it … Richard Nixon had this inspiring ritual he would encourage others to do: Close your eyes for one minute, and picture all the enemies of freedom crammed together on some Soviet oligarch's yacht, slowly sinking into the Caspian Sea.

Published under: Axios , Parody