Justin Dart (1907-1984) was very pleased when S.F.B. Morse first showed him , and his attractive wife Jane, one of Pebble Beach’s prime pieces of real estate. Dart wanted “only the best,” a spacious home overlooking the brilliant green golf links, with the picturesque Pacific Ocean close enough to hear on moonlit nights. To impress his friends with his wealth and status, Dart wanted a high ceilinged home with 2752 square feet for his art collection, and a panoramic view that would reflect how he viewed himself, and how others should see him.
Dart’s wife, who he called “Punky,” was the actress Jane O’Brian. Having a spacious uncluttered home on the 17 Mile Drive & Viscaino , and a beautiful wife, helped him achieve favorable status for others to see.Those that knew the couple were impressed with their confident image and enthusiastic energy about politics. Dart wanted important people to have a positive first impression of his success and friendliness, giving them the idea he was a “take-control-kind-of-guy.”
Morse shared these traits with Dart and his other conservative friends, including Reagan, Nixon and Grunsky. They knew that such an impression was key to gaining people’s trust, and persuading them that their political views were highly reliable. The New York Times quoted Dart “What America so sadly lacks, he said, are more patriots like myself.” He has a home in Pebble Beach right on the waterfront,” where he entertained Morse, General McClure and a group of patriots that was later called“Reagan’s Kitchen Cabinet.” While convincing listeners of his patriotism Dart wanted to sound since, not boastful. The Times further described him as a “Kingmaker,” who “presides over one of the nation’s largest political action committees,’ who from 1953 was one of the Republican Party’s “most aggressive fundraisers.” In his immaculate home he held “late night political pow wows” where his handpicked Pebble Beach group, and members of his “Kitchen Cabinet” drank fine wine and planned to get rid of Brown, Farr, Rumford, and The Rumford Fair Housing Act.”
A highly self assured self image, and great affection for like minded friends, is essential in convincing others, and Morse and Dart used these talents to sell their views on race relations, the war in Asia and the economy.
Dart ranted about the emerging movement for “Negro Rights,” and what the Times called his disdain for the “uproar over the equal rights amendment.” Low income African Americans, and whites in poverty as well, should blame themselves for their plight, not America. Businessmen like Morse and their friend Patrick J. Frawley Jr. (1923-1998) preached “self reliance” to the poor. Dart proclaimed “I worked my ass off for what I have” as had Morse, McClure, Frawley and his neighbors in Pebble Beach. “The so called underprivileged are mainly victims of their own laziness, and-or fifty years of this socialistic government we’ve got, begun by that socialist son of a bitch F.D.R.” (New York Times).
To avoid coming across as a bombastic con man, men of their status needed to deliver such thoughts in a seemingly calm and friendly way. “Politics is like acting,” Dart believed, and he and Jane knew a great deal about acting from their years in Hollywood during WWII. Since the early forties Dart had been a close friend of Ronald Reagan in Los Angeles. When Reagan bought his first home he gladly signed the deed “in 1941 that included a racially restrictive covenant.”(Los Angeles Times 9-15-1966). Calling Reagan his“ideological soulmate” Dart totally agreed with him on those covenants, and both campaigned against the Rumford Act, and opposed the 1964 Civil Rights Act that called for equal treatment of minorities under the law. Millions of California Republicans agreed, and one third of them generally agreed with the ultra right wing John Birch Society that communists were behind the “black riots” and the “riots at Berklely.”
When Governor Pat Brown’s campaign linked some of Reagan, Morse and Dart’s uncritical ideology to the John Birch Society, Regan’s speech writers finally made him sound somewhat critical of the “Birchers” by having him say a “lunatic fringe INSIDE the John Birch Society”was spreading racism and accusing Eisenhower and his brother of being secret communist agents. When Birch leader Robert Welch made these accusation against Ike and other Republicans, Reagan said he was in “great disagreement” with him. (L.A. Times 9-5-1966) Over a week earlier the same paper said “Voters were sick of Vietnam, race riots, high taxes and raising prices…they want something different” than President Johnson and Governor Brown, so Reagan’s speeches and Grunsky’s ads used this “backlash” to their political advantage.
Richard Nixon joined these efforts, that included misrepresenting student issues at U.C. Berkley. That campus, he explained angrily “harbors draft card burners, troop train blockers, and beatniks…with violent demonstrations that advocate the appeasement of Hanoi, Havana and Peking.” (Chicago Tribune 6-24-1966) .
Brown’s advisers from the California Democratic Council, and leaders in the California State Democratic Committee carefully followed the PsyOps media war against their policies. In a 29 page report they stated “Ronald Reagan is an extremist’s collaborator…promoting their policies and taking their money.” Funds gathered by Morse, Grunsky. and by Dart’s powerful “Kitchen Cabinet” used PsyOps methods engineered by psychologists. At a fundraiser Brown said that “Reagan meets weekly with a committee headed by two psychologists, experts in exploiting fears.” (L.A. Times 9-27-1966). The New York Times on February sixth of that year had named these two as Stanley Plug and Kenneth Holden. They successfully coached Reagan to “act” even more friendly and self confident in front of an audience, presenting the “political talking points” that his handlers wrote as his scripts. Plug and Holden were thoroughly knowledgeable on Dale Carnegie’s 1936 best seller “How To Win Friends And Influence People.”
When Reagan and Dart were friends in Hollywood, the book was enormously popular in the movie business., with chapters on “how to handle people…make people like you…and win people to your way of thinking” by seeming to be highly confident and sound persuasive.
Later in Holden’s book “The Making Of The Great Communicator”these weekly meetings are
summarized. The first was in a Malibu Beach house, where he writes “When we first met Reagan he knew practically nothing about California…he had no information of his own.” They helped him rehearse conservative Republican “ways of thinking” in a highly believabe tone, connecting with the biases of the listeners. In “The Kitchen Cabinet” by Paul Westman, Morse and Dart’s friend Holmes P. Tuttle (1906-1989) are named as a big political contributor to their Campaign Fund against Brown, Farr and Rumford. Tuttle made a fortune with his Ford dealerships, and like Dart and Morse was a close friend of Nixon’s. Tuttle’s wealth was founded on the way he trained all his salesmen in Carnegie’s methods, to sound believable through a friendly smile and convincing script. He continued being a top contributor to Reagan, and after he entered the White House in 1981 Dart met with him and urged the new President to “Cut, cut and again cut” the budget’s entitlements, but not military spending, including the Space Defense Initiate. After the 1977 George Lucas film, SDI was called the Star Wars Project, with missles and lasers and control systems that would cost billions and raise the budget even further. However, Dart explained that the high tech costs would “trickle down” and help the economy.
A loud advocate of “free market capitalism” Dart became famous for his frequent quote “Greed is involved in everything we do, and I find no fault with that.”
When Dart’s hard drinking and morals were criticized, the New York Times paraphrased him , “Nothing disgusts Justin Dart more than moralists-in either business or politics.” Yet his own ethics on gender issues were outspoken and blunt on equal rights: “Inequality is inevitable…civil rights…and gay liberation are among what Dart calls “the crappy little issues.” They anger him…women’s issues are just not important enough” to be written into law.” Furthermore, liberals like Fred Farr and others urging protection of natural resources, are “loathed” by Dart are “standing in the way of development.” (New York Times 1–27 1984)
Morse and Dart, friends and early supporters of both Reagan and Nixon, helped Grunsky’s efforts to smear Fred Farr. In Reagan’s autobiography he references Grunsky on pages 155-156 “Friends arranged for a veteran Republican legislator who had years of experience in Sacramento to brief me…he told me about political life in Sacramento.” Calling Grunsky and Reagan “dear friends” Dart felt differently about Reagan’s vice president; ” Jerry Ford is a nice man but he’s not very bright.” He smirked that “Barry Goldwater isnt’s too bright,” but as for his soulmate “I don’t think he’s the brightest man I ever met, but he’s got credibility” when he confidently reads the speeches he’s given.
Dart often told Morse and others that it was him who “persuaded my pal Ron to enter politics.” Then when Ron was elected president “I could have pretty much whatever I wanted,” but considered only the ambassadorship to England. The former president of Rexall Drugs, he left 20 to 200 million dollars in his estate when he died. His obituary in the New York Times, mentioned his many wealthy neighbors like Morse, and his elite friends in the Bohemian Club, and his admiration of Reagan’s Treasury Secretary William Simon, “he’s brilliant,” but that Budget Director David Stockman was “a dumb son of a bitch” who didn’t see eye to eye with him on “supply side economics,” which for Dart and Morse was the “trickle down economical theory.”
Other friends of Morse and Dart that were campaign contributors in 1966 included Stephen D. Bechtel (1901-1989) worth billions of dollars, a Stanford grad who was CEO 1935-1960 of the company his father founded. His son Riley Bechtel, also a Stanford grad and the fiftieth richest American was also a frequent Pebble Beach visitor, and continues to play in the famous golf tournament there. Bechtel, the fifth largest private owned company in America, long supported the Hoover Institute at Stanford, a conservative think tank, where Bechtel president George Schultz was a Hoover board chairman until he went to Washington to be Reagan’s Secretary Of State. Their friend Charles Schwab, contributed as did Charles Schwab Jr. who continued to have a home in Pebble Beach near where Morse and Dart were neighbors.
In the book “The Right Moment: Ronald Reagan’s First Victory”by Lou Cannon, Dart and his “Kitchen Cabinet” are credited with impacting “the decisive turning point in American politics”. Morse and Dart’s support of their “close friends” Reagan and Nixon, shaped the nation’s political history, and especially the right wing of the Republican Party, who continue to champion “free market” ideology. When Dart died at 70 on January 27, 1984 the Times-News (AP) began his obituary by noting he “made his first million selling prescription whisky for “medicinal purposes” during Prohibition…During the Depression he cornered the bourbon market and sold prescription for”medicinal purposes”, claiming he made a million dollars in a few months.” In that era so called Bitters and Nostrumswere 30 to 90% alcohol, causing some clients to become ill or die from alcohol poisoning. Some concoctions sold in drug stores often contained cocaine and until 1933 claimed to treat “rheumatism and nervousness,” with most drug store customers using them for “recreational usages.”
FATHER AND SON BOTH EARN THE MEDAL OF FREEDOM In 1959 at college Dart’s 14 year old son contracted polio, and was in a wheel chair till he died in 2002. In college he started a civil rights group, followed the teachings of Gandhi on civil disobedience and NEVER opposed employmemt or housing opportunities for ANY minorities. He was strongly in favor of Rumfort’s “Fair Employment Act”, which he hailed at 14. and the “Rumford “Fair Housing Act.” Both of these led to the end of prejudice against “Asiatics, Negros” and Jews in Pebble Beach. Dart’s precocious son later went to Japan to found Tupperware there, and married a Japanese woman, greatly irritating his father who called the marriage “inter-racial”, a word he used as an insult. Back in America the son and his wife became the most famous leaders of the movement to end discrimination against the handicapped, extending the Civil Rights Movement of the Sixties to those with physical and developmental problems. Putting together strident demonstrations and writing strongly worded press releases, he went on speaking tours to promote this cause, and was joined by countless like-minded others. When Reagan was in the White House he awarded his friend Justin Dart Senior the MEDAL OF FREEDOM. When Clinton lived there he and his wife Hilary gave the MEDAL OF FREEDOM to Justin Dart Junior, hailing him as “The Martin Luther King for disabled people.” Dart’s mother had always been proud of her son’s achievements, and that day in the Clinton White House brought tears of joy to her eyes. She was aware that her son recalled his father as an alcoholic bully, nd the father’s former wives said their young husband was a self righteous sexist. The property for the Monterey Art Museum and its La Miranda extension in Iris Canyon (just west of MPC), was once acquired by Morse from David Jacks and held by Morse and Del Monte Properties. So when Dart senior died in 1983, leaving a fortune and a collection of art, a four and a half million dollar extension of galleries was added to La Mirada. Designed by famed architect Charles Moore, who planned the Beverely Hills Civic Center, The Justin and Jane Dart Wing opened with a gala celebration in honor of its benefactor on May 27, 1993. Dart’s Pebble Beach friend (former CIA Chief) contributed a half million dollars for that building memorializing Dart. Part of our dramatic local history, the legacy of the Dart Family encapsulates how the Sixties here triggered forces within many families, especially in relations between fathers and sons. What happened here on the Monterey Penninsula effected changes in America throughout that tumultuous era. helping shape how the country is today.
We wish to thank John Thompson for his contribution and it is reprinted as submitted without editorial comment or change.
If John has a core value, it is based in understanding our world, the needs of our world, protecting our world. Making sure those who need assistance, get assistance, and lead a full life.
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