Sunday, January 07, 2007


Gambling/Puritan-Quaker/Nixon, Richard/Once Swept Under the Rug, Now on the Table/New York Times/New York/NY/USA/20-Jan-2006//…The habit of sweeping poker under a carpet of virtue persisted through much of the 20th century. But in his 1970 book "Nixon Agonistes," the historian Garry Wills showed how "vices" like poker could, in the right hands, become telling probes into the heart and mind of an officer or a president, even a Quaker like Richard M. Nixon, who was very much a product of the Puritan ethos.

Wills also showed that while Nixon played ruthlessly as a lieutenant in the Navy, Gen. Dwight Eisenhower was even better at poker, perhaps because he played with more joy - and with a stricter sense of virtue to boot.

"Like Nixon, he made large sums of money in the long games at military bases," Wills wrote. "Unlike Nixon, he was so good he had to stop playing with enlisted men; he was leaving too many of them broke."

Even so, when Eisenhower chose Nixon as his running mate in 1952, both men stopped playing or even mentioning poker, fearing voters would think it unsavory. ...


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