The Plank

Nixon, Nixon, Nixon

By and

More Richard Nixon tapes were released yesterday, and, as usual, there are some goodies:

In the document, written in December 1970 to H. R. Haldeman, a top aide, Nixon expresses both anger and pain that his aides have not been able to establish an image of him as a warm and caring person. He makes several suggestions about how this could be accomplished, warning frequently in the single-spaced 11-page document that it must appear that the examples of his warmth were discovered by others and not promoted by White House aides."There are innumerable examples of warm items," he wrote, saying that he had been "nicey-nicey to the cabinet, staff and Congress around Christmastime" and that he had treated cabinet and subcabinet officials "like dignified human beings and not dirt under my feet."

For which, I suppose, we should be impressed. More:

A proposal to name Walter Washington, the first black mayor of the District of Columbia, [as U.N. Ambassador] is dismissed during the conversation."We don't owe the blacks a damn thing, anyway," Nixon tells Mr. Colson, who notes that African-Americans had contributed little to his landslide victory.Nixon responds: "After all, pampering the blacks isn't good. I think you've got a good point there."Nixon also initially dismissed the idea of naming someone to a high position as "the house Jew," but then says of Leonard Garment, a White House lawyer, "Let him be the house Jew."

Let it be said that Nixon's bigotry was at least inclusive: Referencing just "the blacks" or just the Jews would have been so narrow-minded.

As for his political sense:

He tells Charles W. Colson, a senior aide, that the Republican Party is in trouble and needs to be reinforced with a coalition of working-class Democrats. "Basically, your leadership in the states is so bad," Nixon says. "Frankly, in California, it's Reagan. You can't do it around him. He's got to do it, and he is a drag."

Exactly! Reagan will never appeal to working-class Democrats.

--Isaac Chotiner

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