Yellow legal pad on his lap and his stocking feet crossed on an ottoman-shaped cloud, flipping from channel to channel, Richard Nixon would find tonight's New York primary results bittersweet.
Grandson Christopher, companion in his Saddle River study as they watched the Mets on TV and listened to the Yankees on the radio (or vice versa), was soundly beaten in his bid for the GOP nomination to run for the House from Long Island's Suffolk County. "He's young," Nixon would say.
His son-in-law Ed, Christopher's father, has had a rocky year as state Republican chairman. In June, he failed by backing a moderate (indeed a newly-converted former Democrat) as an alternative to presumptive gubernatorial nominee Rick Lazio. Tonight Lazio, having battled back after Cox's challenge from the left, was finished off from the right by a boiling loose tea kettle of an insurgent, Carl Paladino. Cox, who was backing Lazio by this time and praising him for having "gone through the fire" that Cox himself ignited in his caboose, is now especially battle hardened.
At least Lazio won't have a Nixon to kick him around anymore.
While it wouldn't take much of the sting out of his family's defeats, at least Nixon's post-presidential confidante Roger Stone, Paladino's key adviser, is a winner. Stone got his start doing dirty tricks as part of the operation Dwight Chapin launched in the 1972 Nixon campaign. In the 1980s, some of Nixon's White House-era aides told me how much they resented Stone's access to 37. Some of them are probably fuming. Nixon would be calling his secretary and saying, "Get Roger."