While the masses of Trump-supporting middle Americans celebrate “american independence” on July 4th (a contrived day of independence, either it’s when the British surrendered at Yorktown or when Lee surrendered at Appomattox, if we are being honest with ourselves and it was in fact independence only for a small group of tax-evading elites. Native Americans and African-Americans were better off under British rule then they were in the new “free” USA for sometime), we look back at a man who topped President Nixon’s infamous “enemies list,” a transplanted Floridian Arnold Picker.
The Nixon White House is the inspiration for so much that is wrong in today’s American society both at the corporate and political level. While Nixon was forced from office, the Nixonian methodology of shameless exercise of executive power and disregard for the law or collegiality became the norm in corporate America and later in the Clinton, Bush II and Trump White Houses. So at this time of Trump-infused national soul-searching I was reliving the Watergate scandal recently via the excellent History Channel 6-part series that came out last year. When Picker’s name was mentioned, I recalled he was a Floridian at the end of his life.
Arnold Picker who topped Nixon’s enemies list was by the end of the 1970’s the Mayor of Golden Beach, in Dade County. Golden Beach had been confirmed as an elite playground in the 1960’s and was immortalized in the 1970’s by Eric Clapton’s 461 Ocean Boulevard album.
Picker was one of the leading contributors to liberal causes in the country and had been a leading Hollywood executive. Picker left Hollywood when Lyndon Johnson named him to an administration post. Relocating to the east coast after LBJ was out of office, Picker was close to Maine Senator Edmund Muskie who Nixon most feared as a potential 1972 Democratic nominee for President. In 1976 Picker backed Scoop Jackson in the primaries.
By the end of the decade Picker, living in Golden Beach was the Mayor of the town. He helped to create and fund several of holocaust memorials in Miami-Dade County including the Holocaust Education Center at FIU.
Picker was both Jewish and a Hollywood executive which reinforced certain stereotypes on the far right at the time. Picker was joined on the initial 20-person enemies list by the likes of Allard Lowenstein, Morton Halperin (yes he was around back then!), Daniel Schoor, John Conyers, Ron Dellums, Mary McGrory, Bernard Feld, and Paul Newman! Yes, Paul Newman.
Thank goodness the insanity of Nixon years has ensured we never elect an insecure narcissistic egomaniac to the highest office in the land again…oh wait. Never mind.