Spock once famously said there was an ancient Vulcan saying: "Only Nixon Could Go To China".
The lexicographic history of the phrase, for those of you born in a era of five dollar cups of coffee that just must share with the world on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and the like, starts by understanding that Richard Milhous Nixon- the 37th President of the United States, made his reputation as a congressman and senator from ….anyone? Bueller? anyone? California, as a strident anti-communist. He won his first seat in congress by running against ….anyone? Helen Gahagan Douglas, and infamously said "she's pink right down to her underwear." At the time, "pink" wasn't a singer, but "pink' and "red" where euphemistic terms for communists.
In the Senate Nixon was an anti-communist crusader, and rose to national prominence as he investigated state department employee Alger Hiss for being a Soviet Spy.
Senator Nixon reviewing microfilm discovered hidden in a Pumpkin in a pumpkin patch.
With his anti-communist credentials established, young Senator Nixon was General Eisenhower's choice for Vice President in 1952. In 1960 Nixon ran for President and lost when Senator Kennedy's father bought enough votes in Chicago to swing Illinois into the Kennedy column.
Nixon ran for Governor of California in 1962 and lost, and gave his famous epitaph in a drunken press conference the following morning "You won't have Nixon to kick around anymore." But as someone once said, "that was fake news."
Then came LBJ, and the Vietnam war and social unrest, and all of the sudden in 1968 a beleaguered nation turned to the law-and-order candidate, who was a strident anti-communist and had a "secret plan to end the war."
As President, Nixon secretly ordered the bombing of Cambodia, and lied about it. He ordered Haiphong Harbor mined, and tried to bomb the North Vietnamese into concessions at the peace talks.
Watergate came and weighed down his second term. With the economy sinking at home, the streets on fire with anti-war demonstrators, Nixon, like many beleaguered presidents before and since, looked over-seas. And he turned his gaze to Red China.
Before 1972, the US had openly supported Taiwan as the legitimate and democratic government of all China. There was little in the way of diplomatic relations. Communist China had supported North Vietnam in the war was an enemy.
So Nixon went to China in February 1972. It was as bold and brilliant a move in international relations as has ever been made by a US President. Ambassadors were exchanged (including a young George Herbert Walker Bush), and the seeds were sown for China to make that backpack in your closet, the pillows and sheets on your bed, the pens and pencils erasers in the coffee cup on your desk, and the assorted tchotchkes that now are integral to our daily lives.
The phrase "Only Nixon Could Go To China" entered the lexicon as standing for the idea that it takes a hardliner on an issue to do the opposite of his/her stated beliefs to achieve an unseen resolution to a seemingly intractable problem.
Only Nixon Could Go To China.
Clinton and the Crime Bill.
Eisenhower and his goodbye speech warning about the rise of the "military-industrial complex".
Wealthy Teddy Roosevelt as a trust-buster.
Item: President Trump has endorsed a bi-partisan sentencing reform bill.
Combining new funding for anti-recidivism programs, the expansion of early-release credits for prisoners and the reduction of certain mandatory minimum sentences, the compromise bill would help shape the experiences of tens of thousands of current inmates and future offenders
Trump; who has no understanding of, inter alia, the law, crime, sentencing, social issues (we could go on, but there is a limit to the size of posts) and once infamously said the young black men who was wrongly convicted of raping a woman jogging in Central Park should still be executed.
Trump, who calls entire races of people thugs.
Trump, who called the loyalty of a Judge into question based on his Hispanic ethnicity.
Trump, who was successful sued by the federal government for excluding African Americans from his apartments.
Trump, who called a caravan of refuges an invading army.
Trump, who appeals to the basest fears of people and baits races and sexes.
Trump is supporting a reform of sentencing. A reduction of the use of minimum mandatory sentences. An increase of funding for prisoner rehabilitation programs.
Only Nixon could go to China.