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Trish, Julie, Just Forgo the Fisticuffs

Isn’t it rather obvious who’s behind the now-public rift between President Nixon’s daughters, Trish and Julie? (I know they have grown-up names, but to baby-boomers they’ll always be Trish and Julie.)

The first news accounts last week suggested this was a power struggle between the people running the Nixon Library & Birthplace in Yorba Linda and a smaller group of Nixon supporters, including Trish.

Don’t believe it.

I’m betting this whole thing has been orchestrated by Fox, the TV network that brought us “Celebrity Boxing.”

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Did you catch the premiere?

It aired Wednesday and featured the long-awaited bout between a former member of TV’s “Partridge Family” and a former member of “The Brady Bunch.” In the main event, disgraced Olympic figure skater Tonya Harding took on--and eventually took out--Paula Jones, who certainly knows a thing or two about legal disputes involving presidents.

It was a curious fight, marred by Jones’s tendency in its later stages to turn her back and retreat to the ropes after she got hit. She paid a price, though--a TKO victory for Harding, who put on quite a clinic for boxing fans.

Imagine the audience for a Trish-Julie fight.

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Such a thing would have been unthinkable until news accounts surfaced last week that the sisters have squared off over how to spend nearly $20 million left in the will of the late Bebe Rebozo, the former president’s close friend.

In general, Julie’s camp wants the foundation that runs the Nixon Library to decide how to spend the money. Trish’s camp argues that Rebozo specified that only Julie, Trish and Nixon friend Robert Abplanalp should handle his bequest.

It’s almost axiomatic that any issue involving Richard Nixon would polarize people. This was, after all, a man who antagonized everyone from liberals to John Birchers. As recent reports from his tapes reveal, he even got the Rev. Billy Graham to get down and dirty with remarks about Jews in America.

Richard Nixon could summon the worst from anybody.

But Julie and Trish?

If anyone ever emerged unscathed from contact with Nixon, it was his daughters. Even those among us who can always make time to dump on Nixon have a soft spot for the girls, who always appeared dignified in the wake of their father’s ugliness.

But now, we learn they’ve been at odds in recent years over the best way to perpetuate the Nixon legacy. My very strong advice would be, “don’t bother,” but the sisters have gone to court in Florida and California over the Rebozo gift.

This is like Bambi and Lassie duking it out.

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That’s why I figure Fox is calling the shots. The network has given us “Temptation Island,” in which young unmarried couples are matched up with seductive tempters and temptresses to test their fidelity.

On the heels of that comes “Celebrity Boxing.”

You think Fox wouldn’t love for Americans to hear, “Fighting out of the red corner, with her father’s dark hair, you know her as one of daddy’s little girls ... “

I’ll hazard a guess that America doesn’t want the Nixon daughters fighting--in or out of the ring.

Both have said they don’t really want to fight each other. Julie said it “pains me” to bicker with her sister.

Please, ladies. Your father’s legacy already is set in stone.

For the moment, think about your own.

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Dana Parsons’ column appears Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays. Readers may reach Parsons by calling (714) 966-7821 or by writing to him at The Times’ Orange County edition, 1375 Sunflower Ave., Costa Mesa, CA 92626, or by e-mail to dana.parsons@latimes.com.


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