Roger Stone has been called the “dapper don of dirty deeds” and an “equal opportunity trickster.” He began his political career working as chairman of Connecticut Youth for Nixon/Agnew and later on the infamous Committee for the Re-Election of the President. After Nixon’s resignation, Stone worked for Ronald Reagan as his national youth director in 1976, regional political director in 1979-80, and in the same capacity for the 1984 campaign. He is also credited with rehabilitating Richard Nixon’s image in his later years. Maureen Dowd says he is the “keeper of the Nixon flame.”
Over the last four decades, Stone has continued to be the go-to political strategist for candidates and campaigns with nothing to lose. One of “Stone’s Rules” is “The only thing worse in politics than being wrong is being boring.”
Boring he is not. At the StoneZone.com he writes about politics, fashion, the search for the perfect pizza, and anything else on his mind. Another one of my favorite Stone’s Rules: “Blondes shouldn’t wear red.”
I was tickled when I realized that we have something in common—political tattoos. His is a portrait of Richard Nixon. (Mine will remain a mystery.)
In a recent post, Stone wrote of the protests in Wisconsin, “With Tea Party legions now confronting the Public employee crowds at the State Capitol, I offer Stone’s Rule #37 as follows: Always mount your protest or picket sign on a good solid piece of wood. Comes in handy as a bat if some union goons wanna scuffle.”
When political dirty tricks abound, many remark that “politics ain’t beanbag.” It’s rough and tough and not for the faint-hearted. That’s why political operative Roger Stone is endearing. For him, it’s the strategy and mudslinging that make politics fun.
1. If there were a television channel that only showed one movie over and over, what movie should it be?
STONE: Hmmm. Tough. Goldfinger or Godfather II or Miller’s Crossing
2. What’s one of your favorite movie quotes?
STONE: “God, I love battle.”—George C. Scott as Gen. George Patton.
3. In A Clockwork Orange, Malcolm McDowell is strapped in with his eyes propped open and forced to watch images until he is “cured.” If you could give President Obama the “Clockwork Orange treatment,” what movie would you make him watch?
STONE: Duh! Patton with George C. Scott.
4. What pop culture souvenir do you own that people would be surprised to learn that you cherish?
STONE: My bong in the shape of Nixon’s head—a head shop souvenir from the ’70s. An ebony cigarette holder that belonged to Tom Dewey or a homburg owned and monogrammed for Al Jolson.
5. What’s your current “guilty pleasure” non-news television show?
STONE: “Boardwalk Empire” on HBO. It’s terrific. The costuming is great. If those producers study history, when Boss Nucky Thompson goes to jail there is internal GOP struggle for power in which Atlantic City’s flamboyantly gay Mayor “Two Gun Tommy” Taggert tussles for power with square-jawed Catholic and local sports hero Assemblyman Hap Farley to get control of the Republican machine.
6. Which movie, television, or rock star would cause you to lose your ability to speak if you ever met?
STONE: None. I’m Roger Stone.
7. What was the first rock concert you ever attended and where did you sit and who went with you?
STONE: 1976, The Young Rascals, Staples High School, Westport, Connecticut, with my ginzo cousins and some cute WASPy preppy girls from Wilton. Felix Cavaliere kicks ass on the Hammond Organ. Dino Danielli—one of the great unappreciated rock drummers in history.
My wife, however, saw Otis Redding and James Brown on a double bill in D.C.—and that is the epitome.
8. Many have said that Washington, D.C., is like Hollywood for ugly people. How do you think D.C. is like Hollywood? How is it different?
STONE: It is a town, as JFK said, “of Northern charm and Southern efficiency.” And more phonies than LA! If you are up, everyone kisses your ass, and if you are not, they don’t want to know you. Makes Hollywood look sincere.
9. One mainstay in politics is the grip-and-grin photos that line people’s walls and desks. What grip-and-grin photo do you cherish the most? (And you can’t say President Reagan because that would be everyone’s answer!)
STONE: John Mitchell, Nixon’s ’68 campaign manager and attorney general who went to jail for Watergate. A bum rap.
10. What’s the coolest thing you’ve been able to do because of your role in the political arena?
STONE: Talk politics with Richard Milhous Nixon, but more importantly help elect Ronald Reagan when so many other “Reaganites” were for John Connally, George Bush, Howard Baker, or hoping for Gerry Ford. Working for Ronald Reagan in ’76 as national youth director against Gerry (retard) Ford.
11. What question do you wish reporters would ask you? What’s your answer to that question?
STONE: A reporter once asked Milton Berle that. He said, “Is it really as big as they say? Answer—Yes.”
12. Tell me about the moment you decided to enter the political arena.
STONE: I heard Barry Goldwater say, “Extremism in defense of liberty” on TV, and I was ready to march.