To be William Rehnquist was to consider one's self misunderstood—and with good reason. Rehnquist often appeared to be living in a private world of his own invention, and probing strangers were not welcome. Nixon, though, knew what he was getting. Right after his surprise announcement of Rehnquist's nomination, on the night of Thursday, October 21, 1971, Nixon telephoned his attorney general and gleefully spoke about the "four good men" he had named to the Court so early in his administration. "And Rehnquist is the smartest of the whole goddamn bunch! And he's on our side, isn't he?"
"I think you did a great thing for the Court," John Mitchell replied.
"I really built them up," Nixon went on. "You know, and I talked about respect [for] the law, whether you agree and obey the law, and all that. And they oughta appreciate it, the bastards! . . . Be sure to emphasize to all the southerners that Rehnquist is a reactionary bastard, which I hope to Christ he is."
Even as a young man in the 1950s, Rehnquist boldly preached an uncompromising brand of conservatism, and he espoused views—and acted on them—that were racist even by the standards of that era. Confronted later in the Senate, he took a disingenuous approach with his critics, lying his way out of trouble. Having taken his knocks in two brutal confirmation hearings, he deeply mistrusted the press, and he did his best to frustrate coverage or, failing that, to keep the stories about him one dimensional.
Pub date: 10/02/12
Price: $27.99/31.00 Canada
6 1/8 x 9 1/4
Selling Territory: WxUK,CW
Rights: First serial and Electronic rights: PublicAffairs
British Commonwealth, Translation, Audio, Performance rights: Dystel & Goderich