Sunday, July 3, 2011

July 3, 1971

A word on the tapes is perhaps in order. Nixon had originally chosen not to tape himself, having LBJ's system taken out of the White House, but reversed course in February 1971.The locations taped were the Oval Office, the Cabinet room, Nixon's office in the Executive Office Building, three telephones, and eventually Nixon's study at Camp David. It wasn't done all at once; the Camp David system wasn't set up until May 1972. Two presidential retreats, in Key Biscayne and San Clemente, had no system. Since Nixon knew which things were being taped, there's always the possibility that some comments were deliberately made for the tapes; it's also possible that he moved some conversations to other locations in order to avoid them. It's worth noting, though, that of the people he regularly dealt with only Chief of Staff Bob Haldeman knew about it. Of course, whatever else they did, both certainly incriminated themselves on the tapes, not to mention disgraced themselves in many other ways, as we've been seeing. Surely, Nixon never imagined, certainly not until very late in the game, having to turn over the tapes to a court or Congress in the context of a criminal investigation or an impeachment context -- and remember that his fight for the tapes didn't end with his resignation. He fought for the rest of his life to keep them from becoming public. Oh, also -- he (and Haldeman) had custody of the tapes for quite some time after they became public; there's no way to know whether he did destroy some, although of course he didn't destroy very much of it.

Today's bit of patriotic fun after the fold.

Nixon and Haldeman, in the Oval Office (Miller Center edit from a longer conversation):

President Nixon: [White House Political Operative Charles W. “Chuck”] Colson discovered something. He’s a clever bastard. He had his office call the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

H.R. "Bob" Haldeman: Posing as a Time reporter.

President Nixon: As a Time reporter.

Haldeman: [Unclear.]

President Nixon: And they all said it was [Assistant Commissioner of Labor Statistics Harold Goldstein] Gold-stine, Gold-steen. [Unclear] I said, “Who were they?”

Haldeman: [Unclear.]

President Nixon: I said, “What kind of people were they?” I said, “Were they all Jews?” He said, “Yes.” Everyone who answered was a Jew. Now, point: [White House Personnel Director Frederic V.] Malek is not Jewish.

Haldeman: No.

President Nixon: All right. I want a look at any sensitive areas around where Jews are involved, Bob. See, the Jews are all through the government, and we have got to get in those areas. We’ve got to get a man in charge who is not Jewish to control the Jewish . . . do you understand?

Haldeman: I sure do.

President Nixon: The government is full of Jews.

Haldeman: I sure do.

President Nixon: Second, most Jews are disloyal. You know what I mean? You have a—you have a [White House Consultant Leonard] Garment and a [National Security Adviser Henry A.] Kissinger and, frankly, a [White House Speechwriter William L.] Safire, and, by God, they’re exceptions. But, Bob, generally speaking, you can’t trust the bastards. They turn on you. Correct? Am I wrong or right?

Haldeman: Sure, and their whole orientation is against this administration anyway or against you.

President Nixon: They have this arrogant attitude, too.

Haldeman: That’s right.

President Nixon: So.

Haldeman: And they’re smart. They have the ability to do what they want to do, which is to hurt us.


Alas, we don't have the Nixon/Colson conversation, at least not as far as I know. Since you're now wondering, here's Tim Noah on Malik.

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