Watch what we do, not what we say

Our title today comes from one of the most intriguing and infamous government figures of the post-war era, John Mitchell (Richard Nixon’s Attorney General). Hunter S. Thompson famously wrote of Mitchell, “When going gets tough, the tough get going. John Mitchell said that—shortly before he quit his job and left Washington at 90 miles an hour in a chauffeured-driven limousine!” Mitchell did, in fact, deliver that famous quote to reporters shortly after Nixon was elected president in 1968.

Nixon had run on a platform that gave strong hints of either rolling back or not strictly enforcing civil rights laws, in order to pick up votes and states in the formerly Democrat-controlled South. Mitchell, who ran the campaign, was asked shortly after the election victory whether the new administration would roll back or just not enforce civil rights. To this, Mitchell responded, “Watch what we do, not what we say.” True to his word, the Nixon Administration, with John Mitchell running the Justice Department, strictly enforced civil rights.

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