Nixon’s Chandelier

I’ve been reading Swim with the Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive, by Harvey Mackay. The book deals quite a bit with negotiation and perception of value . About halfway through the book I came across this story from a campaign manger for Richard Nixon in 1968:

“In every national campaign, there is a special office, usually right in the center of the country, here in Chicago.”

“The office has to have a chandelier. That’s critical. This has to be one very impressive office.”

“There’s a big desk and seated behind the desk is someone who appears to be the candidate’s innermost, closest, most trusted advisor.”

“And every day during the campaign, people come to that office and bring money.”

“Not really big money”

“Not Dallas Money”

“Medium Money”

“And they tell the trusted adviser what it is that they want, because nobody gives money to anyone in America without wanting something in return. Usually it is to be an ambassador or an undersecretary”

“Now, medium money won’t get you into the ambassador’s pantry in Sri Lanka, but you cant dump on people who give you money just because they don’t know how the world works.” 

“So, the man behind the desk…..nods gravely and takes notes on a beautiful Mark Cross pad.”

“The donor goes away. He’s happy. He can tell his wife and his friends that he talked to the next president’s brother. He’ll even get a beautiful copy of a letter on fancy stationery that the brother sends to the candidate talking about Joe Suitcase’s “deep commitment” or very “deep commitment” to our candidates presidency. And, best of all, we can forget about him, because anyone dumb enough to let himself get steered into that office in Chicago with the chandelier isn’t worth worrying about later on, just in case we do win the presidency.”


Hmmm….I wonder if there is a room with a chandelier in Detroit and all the coal mining states.