Tuesday, December 2, 2008

A Real Dick

The National Archives released a set Nixon White House tapes today, recorded in 1971 and 1972. Lowlights include:

July 1, 1971: Nixon instructs Chief of Staff H.R. Haldeman to have someone break into the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C.:
I can't have a high-minded lawyer ... I want a son-of-a-b----. I want someone just as tough as I am. ... We're up against an enemy, a conspiracy that will use any means. We are going to use any means... . Get it done. I want it done. I want the Brookings Institution cleaned out and have it cleaned out in a way that has somebody else take the blame.

April 4, 1972: Nixon discusses the press with Haldeman:
NIXON: Return the calls to those poor dumb bastards ... who I know are our friends. Now do it ... We made the same mistake [Dwight] Eisenhower made, but not as bad as Eisenhower made, because he sucked the Times too much ... G-d damn it, don't talk to them for a while. Will you enforce that now?
HALDEMAN: I'll try.

May 18, 1972: Nixon talks to Henry Kissinger about the National Security Adviser's meeting with Ivy League college presidents regarding the war in Vietnam:
The Ivy League presidents? Why, I'll never let those sons-of-b------ in the White House again. Never, never, never. They're finished. The Ivy League schools are finished ... Henry, I would never have had them in. Don't do that again ... They came out against us when it was tough ... Don't ever go to an Ivy League school again, ever. Never, never, never.

Nov. 14, 1972: Nixon talks with his aide Charles Colson about his landslide re-election victory over Democrat George McGovern:
NIXON: "What in the hell did you think of McGovern's statement on the election? Wasn't that the sour grapes crap again?”
COLSON: “Well, it's unbelievable, the arrogance of the guy ... God, what a bad man. Just awfully glad we got him buried and put away for good. I think he is.”
NIXON: Oh, he's buried. He's buried.

Dec. 9, 1972: Nixon talks to Colson about the appointment of building trades union leader Peter Brennan as secretary of labor:
NIXON: The idea, they finally think the appointment of a working man makes them think we're for the working man.
COLSON: That's precisely it.
NIXON: They talk about all the tokenism. We appoint blacks, and they don't think we're for blacks. Mexicans. They don't think we're for Mexicans. But a working man, by golly, that is really something.

Lyndon Johnson may have been coarse -- coarser, even -- but at least he had a sense of humor. (Russell Baker once wrote admiringly of Johnson's talent for the "comic vulgarity.") But this stuff is just unrefined anger and pettiness. You can listen to excerpts from the November and December 1972 tapes here.


Sylvia K said...

Amazing! what a jerk! I never liked him or trusted him and it wasn't just because he was Republican because at the time I was more Indepdent than anything, but he just gave me the willies! Great post!

Betty said...

Every time a new revelation or new set of tapes comes out about Nixon, I am appalled all over again. It just keeps getting worse.

K. said...

He was a skunk, all right. Although Dick Cheney makes Nixon look like a cock-eyed optimist.