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Fear and Loathing at Rolling Stone(114)

By:Hunter S. Thompson

Cazart! The fat is approaching the fire—very slowly, and in very cautious hands, but there is no ignoring the general drift of things. Sometime between now and the end of 1973, Richard Nixon may have to bite that bullet he’s talked about for so long. Seven is a lucky number for gamblers, but not for fixers, and Nixon’s seventh crisis is beginning to put his first six in very deep shade. Even the most conservative betting in Washington these days has Nixon either resigning or being impeached by the autumn of ’74—if not for reasons directly connected to the “Watergate scandal,” then because of his inability to explain how he paid for his beach-mansion at San Clemente, or why Vice President Agnew—along with most of Nixon’s original White House command staff—is under indictment for felonies ranging from extortion and perjury to burglary and obstruction of justice.

Another good bet in Washington—running at odds between two and three to one, these days—is that Nixon will crack both physically and mentally under all this pressure, and develop a serious psychosomatic illness of some kind: maybe another bad case of pneumonia.

This is not so wild a vision as it might sound—not even in the context of my own known taste for fantasy and savage bias in politics. Richard Nixon, a career politician who has rarely failed to crack under genuine pressure, is under more pressure now than most of us will ever understand. His whole life is turning to shit, just as he reached the pinnacle . . . and every once in a while, caving in to a weakness that blooms in the cool, thinking hours around dawn, I have to admit that I feel a touch of irrational sympathy for the bastard. Not as The President: a broken little bully who would sacrifice us all to save himself—if he still had the choice—but the same kind of sympathy I might feel, momentarily, for a vicious cheap-shot linebacker whose long career comes to a sudden end one Sunday afternoon when some rookie flanker shatters both his knees with a savage crackback block.

Cheap-shot artists don’t last very long in pro football. To cripple another person intentionally is to violate the same kind of code as the legendary “honor among thieves.”

More linebackers than thieves believe this, but when it comes to politics—to a twenty-eight-year career of cheap shots, lies, and thievery—there is no man in America who should understand what is happening to him now better than Richard Milhous Nixon. He is a living monument to the old army rule that says: “The only real crime is getting caught.”

This is not the first time Richard Nixon has been caught. After his failed campaign for the governorship of California in 1962 he was formally convicted—along with H. R. Haldeman, Maurice Stans, Murray Chotiner, Herb Klein, and Herb Kalmbach for almost exactly the same kind of crudely illegal campaign tactics that he stands accused of today.

But this time, in the language of the sergeants who keep military tradition alive, “he got caught every which way” . . . and “his ass went into the blades.”

Not many people have ever written in the English language better than a Polack with a twisted sense of humor who called himself Joseph Conrad. And if he were with us today, I think he’d be getting a fine boot out of this Watergate story. Mr. Kurtz, in Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, did his thing.

Mr. Nixon also did his thing.

And now, just as surely as Kurtz, “Mistah Nixon, he dead.”

Letter from JSW to HST

March 7, 1973


1) Re-edit “The End of the Campaign Trail For Now” plus a 250 word introduction immediately. Due no later than March 12.

2) “Dr. Thompson’s first-hand guide to motorcycles.” Due April 23. (Remember, you must immediately send me a marked-up copy of one or two motorcycle magazines so I can set up all the demonstrations for you in L.A. right after the Yorty piece.)

3) “Sam Yorty vs The Powers of Evil” (first look at the L.A. Mayor race) Due April 9 (issue 134, expect 2500–4000 words—a column).

4) The L.A. Mayors Race—feature article due June 4 (138).

5) The N.Y. Mayors Race (long column or feature article). Due June 18 (139).

In addition I expect you to be looking into two other pieces for feature treatment:

1) The Rev. Ike

2) Professional Wrestling

Further, I would like you to let me know when you think you would like to do a long piece (or series) on Texas so I can begin to work out a schedule with Ralph Steadman. I would like the Texas article to be one or two of the leading features this fall. Please confirm.


Editor’s note: None of these assignments came to fruition.

Fear and Loathing at the Super Bowl

February 28, 1974

. . . and whosoever was not found written into the book of life was cast into the lake of fire . . .