The Swarm

Mix it up with The Bee's editorial board.

August 29, 2010
Carly Fiorina's father was a Nixon favorite, tapes show

No one knows whether President Richard Nixon would have named Joseph T. Sneed to the U.S. Supreme Court if Nixon had served a full second term.

But as we note in this column in today's Forum, White House tapes show that Nixon had a soft spot for Sneed, the father of Republican U.S. Senate candidate Carly Fiorina. We link to two of those tapes below.

Sneed was dean of Duke Law School, Nixon's alma mater, when Nixon appointed him deputy attorney general in January 1973. The President named Sneed to the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in July 1973. A year later, Nixon resigned in disgrace. His successor, Gerald Ford, made one appointment to the high court, John Paul Stevens, who recently retired.

Sneed, meanwhile, served 35 years on the appellate court and died in 2008. Here is an obituary.

Sneed's name came up several times during conversations recorded in Nixon's offices, as disclosed by the Presidential Records Program at the University of Virginia's Miller Center for Public Affairs.

In this tape, dated Nov. 11, 1972, Nixon is meeting at Camp David with Chief of Staff H.R. "Bob" Haldeman and Chief Domestic Policy Adviser John D. Ehrlichman, and asks whether Sneed might accept an appoinment as the head of the Internal Revenue Service:

"How about the Dean of the Duke [University] Law School? Would he take it? Having in mind the fact that he ... having in mind the fact that he would go up to the Court maybe?"

Earlier, on Feb. 2, 1972, Ehrlichman passed along a gift from Sneed to Nixon, a photo of Nixon during his days at the Duke law school. 

As this tape reveals, Ehrlichman and Nixon proceeded to discuss their plans for Sneed. Ehrlichman described him as "very bright, very obviously quite conservative, a good Republican."

Here is the Miller Center's full transcript:

Ehrlichman: It's the dean. He's named Sneed. He's a very classy Republican.

President Nixon: Well, I'm―incidentally, a fellow that Lon Fuller recommended for the Court.

Ehrlichman: Yeah.

President Nixon: Says he's that good.

Ehrlichman: Yeah. Well, I talked to him about busing and a lot of things, and he thinks straight.

President Nixon: Keep him in mind.

Ehrlichman: Yep. He's―

President Nixon: How old is he?

Ehrlichman: I would guess about 52, something of that kind. ... His wife was with him and she looks about that age.

President Nixon: What is his background, law school or whatever it is?

Ehrlichman: I'm not sure where he went to law school. He's been teaching at Stanford for about eight or ten years. I don't know where he was before that. I mean, that's how I got an introduction to him. But he asked to come in.

President Nixon: He is a classy guy, huh?

Ehrlichman: I think he is.

President Nixon: Good.

Ehrlichman: He's got a funny muscle spasm, his head over to one side, but very bright, very obviously quite conservative, a good Republican. He's been active in Republican politics in California.

President Nixon: How the hell did he?

Ehrlichman: I don't know how that happened, but―

President Nixon: God Almighty. You know, you have to wonder how any .

Ehrlichman: Apparently he's been pretty busy in California state politics, because he knew all the players.

President Nixon: Let's remember him, sort of keep him in mind, you know? You never know what―assistant attorney general, deputy attorney general. He's that kind of fellow.

Ehrlichman: He says you're most welcome at the law school any time you wanted to come down.

President Nixon: It's about the only place they'll let me on.

Ehrlichman laughs.

August 25, 2010
Ted Gaines is shifting into campaign mode

Some politicians gear up for campaigns by going on crash diets to lose those spare tires.

Assemblyman Ted Gaines gave up an entire set of wheels.

Gaines, a Roseville Republican, is running to replace the late Sen. Dave Cox in the California senate district that stretches from Fair Oaks to Elk Grove, Placer and El Dorado counties and up to the Oregon border.

As noted in this column, Gaines often used a state-issued 2007 Camry hybrid to traverse the vast district. But last week as the field took shape, Gaines informed the Assembly Rules Committee that he was turning in the vehicle.

Gaines explained the decision by saying he wanted "to be clear that I'm not using any state resources" to wage the campaign.

Gaines' main Republican challenger so far is Assemblyman Roger Niello, R-Fair Oaks. Niello hails from the auto dealership family, so no doubt has his pick of the lot.

August 17, 2010
Carly Fiorina doesn't take a stand on Proposition 23; Next question

Carly Fiorina gladly accepted the endorsement of the anti-tax Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association today, noting she has signed a pledge never to raise taxes if she becomes U.S. senator.

But the Republican who seeks to unseat Democratic incumbent U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer didn't endorse the Jarvis group's big cause on this November's ballot, passage of Proposition 23, the initiative to suspend California's law to curtail greenhouse gases. The Jarvis organization talks about the initiative here.

The former Hewlett-Packard chief executive officer made clear that she is no fan of AB 32, the 2006 law embraced by many Silicon Valley venture capitalists who believe the measure could help transform California's economy by encouraging growth in green technology.

Fiorina doesn't seem to share that optimism. Stopping at the Sacramento offices of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, Fiorina said in answer to a reporter's question about Proposition 23:

"AB 32--studies that have been done certainly suggest that in the short term, it will destroy jobs. I think that is worth taking into account in the middle of a deep recession where we have 21 counties with unemployment above 15 percent."

Will she vote for Proposition 23? the reporter pressed.

"I haven't yet taken a formal position on Proposition 23. But I think common sense would tell us that you don't rush forward with AB 32 when you know it is destroying jobs in the short term."

But will she take a position before the November election? the reporter persisted.

"Do we have other questions?"

With that, Fiorina proceeded to answer other a few other questions from the small gathering of reporters.

Jon Coupal, the organization's president, said after Fiorina left that he hopes she will take a stand in favor of the Proposition 23 before election day.

That almost surely will depend on polls as the election nears. CalBuzz last month summed up the political dilemma Republicans are facing in this item.

About The Swarm

The Swarm is written by members of The Sacramento Bee's editorial board. They meet daily and are separate from the newsroom. Views included here are those of individual writers, and do not necessarily reflect those of a majority of the board or the positions expressed in The Bee's editorials.

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