The intellectual legacies of two late, great, and Californian Republican presidents not-so-quietly contrast over a Trumpified GOP.

Richard Nixon always stabbed to the heart of the matter.

Leaders. Real Peace. In the Arena. Seize the Moment. RN: The Memoirs of Richard Nixon. These are a few of some nine titles the 37th president worked up during his forced retirement.

La Casa Pacifica. His house on the Pacific. (San Clemente, in southern Orange County, just north of San Diego, if we’re still being precise). But it’s not just Nixon’s old house that is out here. An escalating parlor game of sorts being played in California would likely remind President Nixon of a less sentimental, and far more meandering, chapter in life: Vietnam.

Like the future of the GOP itself, the hands played over Donald Trump between Nixon’s namesake library and that of his Republican successor in electoral victory, Ronald Reagan, appear, like ’nam and Covid-19, poised to go on for bloody forever. Allegedly vapid California is, coincidence or not, home to the intellectual nerve centers of the last two great Republican presidents.

The Nixon brain trust is burrowed in Yorba Linda, further up north from “La Casa,” and about fifty miles from the coast; it’s dubiously part of, or at least tangential to, the “Inland Empire” area, a name that is somehow suitable to R.N.’s smoldering, introverted, and powerful personality. What remains of Nixon, on this Earth, is there.

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