The Who2 Blog

Eisenhower and Nixon Fishing: Whatta Photo

On this heels of the much-discussed Obama clay pigeon photo comes this classic of presidential sporting life:

Photo of Dwight Eisenhower showing a fishing rod to Dick Nixon, who scowls at the lure in nutty rubber bootsDwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library via NY Times

Yes, it’s presidential nominee Dwight D. Eisenhower (right) showing a fly-fishing rod to running mate Richard M. Nixon in 1952 on a fishing trip in Colorado.

Nixon couldn’t look more out of place, could he? No matter: Ike won the election that fall, maybe because Adlai Stevenson looked even less like a vigorous sportsman than Nixon.

The photo is from this review of Ike and Dick, a new history by Jeffrey Frank. It sounds terrific.

The 1999 book Fishing With the Presidents describes the moment:

The famous Eisenhower grin, however, was conspicuously absent as Ike tried to teach Nixon the rudiments of fly-fishing while the press looked on. “It was a disaster,” Nixon candidly recalled. “After hooking a limb the first three times, I caught his shirt on my fourth try. The lessons ended abruptly. I could see that he was disappointed because he loved fishing and could not understand why others did not like it as well as he did.”

The moment was caught on newsreel cameras, too.

Ike and Dick, by Jeffrey Frank »

 

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  • Troof Detector

    So what if Nixon looked out of place?

    • Fair point. I don’t regard it as a personal failing of Nixon’s; I regard it as a graphic example of the things we expect politicians to do (or which they sometimes choose to do themselves) to appear as “regular guys” for the cameras. Usually that means eating some absurd sandwich and grinning, but sometimes it goes farther. I do think Nixon looks especially dogged in that top shot, though — like he’s *trying* to be an excellent student but is simply confounded why anyone would want to do it.