After several months of Hitchcock movies with an occasional Sherlock Holmes mystery thrown in for good measure, my mom surprised me at her care center over the weekend with a special request.
“What are the chances of seeing ‘All the President’s Men‘” again?” she asked. “I haven’t watched it since it came out in the ’70s.”
The odds were 100 percent in her favor, I happily told her, since I’d recently bought a new copy to watch as a double feature with “The Post.” So yesterday afternoon, I put on my favorite t-shirt (“Journalist — I’m Not Fake, But My President Is”), picked up a couple of smoothies and settled in with her on a hot afternoon to watch Woodward (Robert Redford) and Bernstein (Dustin Hoffman) take down Nixon while my cell phone was lighting up with alerts from The Washington Post and The New York Times about Donald Trump tweeting that he has the “absolute right” to pardon himself.
When I told my mom about the alerts, she rolled her eyes. “He should do something to himself all right,” she quipped, “and maybe he should watch the movie, too. He might learn something.”
My mother can seem a little frustrated or confused sometimes, but when it comes to politics, she always snaps to attention. More than anyone, it was she who taught me to always speak my mind, question authority and fight for the underdog. I’ve mentioned before that when I was 12 and living with my father, I spent the summer of 1973 watching the Watergate hearings on an old black-and-white television in our East Midvale rental home. I was riveted. But my dad, a former Nixon supporter, was concerned. He talked to my mom and said he wondered if it was a good idea for a soon-to-be seventh-grader to spend the summer alone indoors, caught up in a political scandal aired live daily on PBS.
“Ahhh, let her watch it — there’s really no good reason why she shouldn’t,” my mother told him. “It’s not hurting anything, and besides, there are worse things she could be doing.”
When I reminded my mom about that conversation yesterday, she laughed, and then let out an exasperated sigh. “Isn’t it something,” she said, “that all these years later, here we are again? “What the hell is wrong with people? They’d better wake up.”
As I hugged her goodbye and promised to round up a DVD of “Nixon” featuring Anthony Hopkins, we both agreed that “All the President’s Men” should be required viewing for every American, now more than ever. With bonus points for those who pop some extra popcorn and also watch “The Post.” 🙂