Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Richard Nixon: Still Dead, Still Profane

The National Archives has released another batch of tapes from the secret recording system Richard Nixon had installed when he was president, and thirty-four years after leaving office and fourteen years after his death, he still manages to set standards for cynicism and paranoia in the White House.

— On 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.”

— On 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.”

— On 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:

NIXON: “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.”

— On 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.”

The inevitable comparisons between George W. Bush and Richard Nixon have been around for a long time, enhanced recently by various right-wing commentators like Chris Wallace who are already trying to write revisionist history about the Bush years even before he’s left office. But as Gawker points out,

Bush is no Nixon. Nixon was a smart paranoid criminal lunatic who actually effectively managed the nation even as he abused the office for his personal gain, railed against Jews, and illegally bombed Cambodia. Bush, of course, is a messianic moron who ran the nation into the ground, allowed a great American city to be washed away, and lied us into a pointless, poorly planned foreign war because he was so stupidly convinced of his own essential goodness and infallibility.

In other words, give Mr. Nixon some credit for actually knowing what he was doing.

HT to I Don’t Like You Either.