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tv   Panel Discussion on Richard Nixon  CSPAN  April 17, 2016 4:53am-5:54am EDT

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pentagon, money and politics and health care. >> how has the media's relationship changed since the nixon administration? >> well, i think that nixon kind of broke that relationship to the extent that it was very strong. now people are much more skeptical. i think in large part because of him and because of the acts of subsequent presidents. and that's made the relationship much more adversarial than it used to be, and mostly that's a good thing because we need to be skeptical of what the white house does. >> ray locker, he's a reporter with "usa today," author of "nixon's gamble: how a president's own secret government destroyed his administration." thank you, mr. locker. >> thanks. appreciate it. ..
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to two superb authors treating richard nixon. nixon is back. something more recently said of voldemort, but also nixon is back. i remember just after he got on the helicopter the vice president who became gerald ford said my fellow americans, the long national nightmare is over. but like a lot of nightmares, there are flashbacks. i hope there will even be a few remarks that reflect on our current crazy primary season, but in any case these two
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top-flight writers have given their sharply transit -- contrasting reading, tim weiner on my far left, one man against the world, the tragedy of richard nixon, record and dramatic detail how lawless and devious nixon really was. his indictment is excruciating and fascinating. detailed, very convincing. evan thomas on my immediate left, by contrast, his book being nixon, a man divided seeks to explain what it was like to
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be richard nixon. compassion and understanding that anxious, conflicted, self-destructive person. there is plenty in tim weiner's book about self-destruction of the man. they are both experts in national security. books about the cia and it is great to focus on tim's book, dealing with brezhnev and to turn to evan's book. and when he in assisted in staying at the western white house. and they wore the same perfume
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as pat nixon, traded up and down the hall after dark and pat nixon was not pleased. tim won his career. so bad. tim weiner was national security are correspondent for the new york times, his book is called enemies:the history of the fbi and his book about the cia is called legacy, and the national book award and evan thomas is a journalist and editor with newsweek for much of his career and his book about the cia is called the very best man and he won the national magazine award. it strikes me both men were excellent candidates for nixon's
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enemies list. these were the kind of journalists with establishment journals like newsweek and the washington post, the new york times, evan thomas went to harvard and is the grandson of a man who ran six times for president has a socialist, norman thomas was not nixon's kind of guy and yet he writes a very compassionate biography. tim weiner went to columbia university and columbia school of journalism and the new york times with almost as much as the washington post, a real antagonist of mister nixon in nixon's point of view. read these books together. the war in vietnam, chile, the detente, dealings with china and
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russia, that is tim weiner's book, and that is complemented by evan's study of what it is like to be richard nixon and take the entire life to mister nixon's birth through the full extent and insight about him as a father and husband, as a man who was always striving. tim weiner captures the way he was a raging insomniac who as he remarked in the attempt to deal to medicate himself with alcohol, not a good formula. each book is so convincing you need to sit down with a two of them together. in the last paragraph nixon was no saint but he martyred himself in a lot of his self-destructive
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behavior. i thought i would ask tim weiner to tell us what it was that caused him to set out to write this book. >> a few years ago i was at the nixon presidential library and archives in the home town south of los angeles, talking about nixon's relationship with j edgar hoover whom nixon called, not entirely sincerely, my close personal friend in all political life of 25 years. when hoover died six weeks before the watergate break-in, probably wouldn't have happened had he lived. nixon actually said he died at the right moment, didn't he, been trying to figure out how to get rid of hoover for years.
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so three years ago after giving a speech, an archivist at the nixon library, what is happening? by the end of 2014, everything. all the tapes, a quarter of 1 million words of haldeman's diaries that were classified top secret. everything will be out and i said that is amazing. 40 year struggle to get this material in the hands of the american people were just as wrong. i put aside what i was working on, tapes began coming out in 2013, they continue to come out and i listen to so much richard nixon i could plausibly do richard nixon.
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what i finally understand, and richard nixon has been put on the analyst's couch, something laterally, and one was how the war in vietnam was fought on two fronts, abroad and at home and how the war home became the war of watergate, was nixon going after his political enemies, those who oppose the war and opposed him that led to the crimes that brought him down. between 2 wars were as one, vietnam and watergate. after listening to the newly released tapes which cover roughly the end of summer of
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1972 until the taping mechanisms were revealed at the watergate hearings in 1973, what the torment this man went through, he knew before he was sworn in for a second term that he was doomed, the presidential chalice was poisoned and the agonies he put himself in this country through trying to cling to power must never be repeated. violations of the constitution under the nixon administration were as grievous as anything we witnessed since the civil war and no free republic has survived longer than 300 years, that was the roman empire, in the history of civilization. we made it to 240. we need to remember what happened, what really happened in the nixon years, to make it
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to 300. >> you decided to do what you did. >> i worked for the washington post for 24 years and where i worked, nixon was the devil. a few i shared. john meacham at random house approached me about writing about nixon. i felt i would be the 12th or 13th nixon library and the picture of nixon as the bad guy is pretty well-established by now and rightfully so but i want to see what it is like to be in, put myself in his shoes so i set out to do that. the good news is an amazing paper trail, he hated talking to people.
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his aides called a yellow legal pad his best friend, he wrote a lot of notes to himself. an amazing paper trail within the white house, quite an excellent paper trail, nixon had quite -- grotesque action, the white house was a fairly well-run place, then of course nixon wrote thousands of pages of memoir of varying degrees of reliability. even the tapes, 3700 hours of tapes, they only cover a couple years of his presidency. you can get pretty close to richard nixon and that is what i endeavor to do. what i found was not the
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criminal mastermind but rather someone who was pathologically shy and unable to confront subordinates. a big reason he dug himself such a big hole in watergate was his fear, his inability to confront his own top aides. for instance nixon did not know about the watergate break-in himself, he participated in the cover up. he did but he could not get everybody together to ask what happened here for about tween 9 months after the break and. by then it was too late, it was a cover up. that was partly shyness, not criminal malevolence but shyness on nixon's part. that is not excusing that he committed a crime but i am interested in his worldview, got along with other people and the way he dealt with people because i think it is significant.
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tim mentioned the nexus between vietnam and watergate. there certainly is. watergate begins in various places but one big beginning is when they decide to break in when nixon's as three times on tape that he wants to break into the brookings institution after the pentagon papers have been revealed. june 1971, secret history of the vietnam war, the papers never mentioned richard nixon but nixon is obsessed about leaks, running private diplomacy, henry kissinger in china, obsessed about the times and loves and he thinks somewhere in the brookings institution there is a report that he himself commissioned on a long and convoluted story about how he did something illegal before the 1968 convention, communicating
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in the 1968 election, communicating with the south vietnamese government to tell them not to make a deal, that was treason. nixon is obsessed with a report, tells his folks to break into brookings. one of his aides said why don't we just go ask them? nixon was crazy. at various times. certainly at this time. one thing and this is where historical context is useful, for a long time if he wanted to find stuff, political intelligence, the fbi did that, that is how j edgar hoover stayed in office all those years acting as a political spy and blackmailing them.
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by 1971 the wind is changing here. they are liberal and starting to outlaw wiretapping or put restrictions on illegal wiretapping, the president is limited in what they can do. j edgar hoover is no fool, a long time because of his political instincts he could see the wind is shifting so when nixon says i want you to dig up dirt on elder berg, hoover refuses to do it. he is out of the game of black bags and burglaries, the fbi is not doing that anymore. what does nixon do? he goes in-house, he creates his own investigative unit within the white house, the plumbers would remember them? the plumbers. here is the thing about the plumbers. they sound like a bunch of arch criminals, those guys were stumbled bums, classic washington fashion, they -- like james bond or the g-man.
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actually hunt was a fool who had been dumped on the white house by the ca in classic modern washington tradition. they didn't want to give him the cia. lady was an idiot who had been dumped on the treasury which dumped him on the white house so the crack squad were run by eagle crowe who is not a criminal mastermind. he was a former eagle scout was his nickname at the white house was evil crowe. it was a joke. it was a joke. he wasn't evil at all but he was intimidated by nixon and ran into this crew of clowns and they screwed up. they broke into a psychiatrist's office and made a hash of that and then broke into watergate and did other things as well and got caught. not criminal masterminds. nixon didn't even know about these break ands.
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there is some evidence is top aides certainly did. nixon certainly did. the record is a little squishy on that but mostly the point is it wasn't a master conspiracy to violate the constitution. it was a bunch of hapless guys running around to carry out the will of a deeply insecure president. >> this might be a time to bring but crowe on stage. >> you make it clear again and again the phrase gutter politics. we may think of nixon as a man who was out of touch and had some devious and totally ungoverned stumbled bums working for him, but you tell the story in a much more sinister way. >> they didn't call him tricky dickie for nothing and they had called him that for a long time and the beginning of his political career.
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but what we get in one man against the world is on top of the insecurity, a sense of a man coming apart and there was no better witness to this than but krogh. the time is may 1970. a few weeks later hoover would say no to nixon for the first time saying i won't do your dirty work anymore and appreciation of the plumbers. this is may 1970, nixon has just invaded cambodia. in search of a nonexistent bamboo pentagon supposedly coordinating enemy supply routes on the ho chi minh trail. the campus is exploding. you all remember this. the national guard kill four kids at kansas state. nixon at this point hasn't been
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able to sleep for a solid week. haldeman notes in his diary the president is really beat and needs some rest and then comes the shooting and then as 100,000 kids are coming to washington to protest the invasion of cambodia nixon is on the verge of a nervous breakdown, stays up all night into saturday, in his own words agitating, uneasy, making 50 phone calls and finally calling upon his valet to accompany him to the lincoln memorial. and but krogh was on duty that night at the white house and vividly recalled in an oral history at 4:30 in the morning i was in the secret service
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command post and over the loudspeaker came the words searchlight is on the lawn, searchlight being the president's secret code name and i punched in the home number and said the president is out and about and i think he is on the lawn in the rose garden. they said render assistance right now. so i did, where the president was going and followed him to the lincoln memorial. couldn't have gotten there more than two or three minutes after he got there, went up the stairs to see what was going on and found him in discussion with 10 or 15 young people, students who had come in from all over the east coast. there were three women who were there as eyewitness accounts of the conversation, the only ones we have. their names were lynn and ronnie and jane, he didn't look anyone in the eyes, was mumbling, sentence structure, there was
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none. someone who asked him to speak up, would jolted out of wherever he was and he would look up and shake his head around and then go back and was gone again, there was no train of thought. nothing he was saying was coherent. at first i felt are and that changed to respect and then as he kept talking it went to disappointment and disillusionment and that i felt petty because he was so pathetic and just plain fear to think that he is the president of the united states. i think we all went through that. anyone who lived through this went from that feeling of our to fear. the root of our is awful is in terrifying. this is a microcosm of what happened to richard nixon as he disintegrated over the next four years. >> that shows the difference between then and now because it
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took an entire presidency to reach that point of fear at the prospect of such a man in office where with trump we have already gotten there and haven't completed the primaries. it is amazing. that is the difference then and now, you have these thousands of hours of tapes, we can hear you listen to everything said in the oval office and nowadays you won't have tapes from the oval office or emails. >> or emails. they learned that. instead the oval office is going to have all of our emails and tapes of us so it is kind of inverse. do we really need to bring nixon down so hard? it seems like after reading the indictment that you lay out there is nothing left of the
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man. i get the idea that you were so anxious, so afraid constantly, that also was very very effective in putting himself -- protecting himself but did you feel it was necessary? he sometimes comes across as a political dracula, each of your chapters is another stake in the heart. >> it was nixon who famously said i gave them a sword and they stuck it in and twisted it with relish and i guess if i had been in their position i would have done the same thing. this is a man who set hours before he left the white house, we all remember that gray august afternoon in 1974, one of his last words to the american people, always remember others may hate you but those who hate you don't win unless you hate them and then you destroy yourself.
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this is the story of a man destroying himself and doing serious damage to american democracy. it is a lesson that we cannot forget. >> i was fascinated by that, this was his last day to get on a helicopter. to make that remarkable statement in which he says hate your enemies, it is going to destroy. i read that, too laid, just realized that? i looked and i looked in the record for some self-awareness, all the way back to childhood, his anxiety about his enemies. was he never aware that this was a fatal flaw, that this was going to hunt him? there are tiny hints here and there. he says to his son-in-law a few days before he resigned it is
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like a shakespeare play or a play by the ancient greeks, i was curious if anyone ever read a play by shakespeare, high school and college papers in the library, he read shakespeare's julius caesar and wrote a paper about it, it is a terrible paper, he totally ssed the point, you cannot find -- he talked about his own destiny but was remarkably, do you think richard nixon knew himself. and he said sometimes i think he took a peek. >> he didn't like what he saw. >> nixon's secretary of defense and cia director, did nixon know himself? no. then he looked out the window and said who does? that is a fair question and interesting question when you deal with powerful people, think
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about it. you can't be too worried about where your car keys are or when you get away with your wife. often men have blinders on, they are going in one direction, and the lack of self-awareness which was so hunting in nixon and self-destructive, not uncommon, lincoln, a lot of others, it raises an interesting question about greatness, aspire to do great things if you are self reflective or do you need to have blinders on? nixon is a tragic case, a lot of gray areas and other leaders and i wonder, i was fascinated by this. it may be in the 4:00 a.m. of nixon there is a 10,000 page nixon diary sitting behind closed doors.
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i asked frank gannon, nixon's ghostwriter on his memoir, has worked on this three years and i asked is there any civil war in the senate? he said no. one of the wonderful things about history is there are always documents. you think you are done, you are not. there is always another around. maybe we will learn more about nixon. the very thing tim raised about nixon and his enemies i found so interesting, so blind. >> i believe so. as an authority on this none other than henry kissinger who famously said can you imagine what this man -- can you imagine if anyone ever loved him? >> a virtue of that is it is
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imagining -- i don't think you can fault a man who can produce two daughters is marvelous. and how they endured we will never know. >> unlike some politicians, he did -- a little tiny editor. >> nor did the speak with her. and claimed getting up in the middle of the night, they slept in separate bedrooms, but that marriage is interesting. by the end of watergate it is terrible. when nixon decides to resign, he doesn't tell his wife, he tells rosemary woods, the early marriage is pretty good.
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the love letters are real and gone for years and he depends on her at least five or six times when nixon says i am getting out of politics, i have had it, i am done and she said you can't because she understood him to know that would destroy him if you get out of politics, you won't be able to live with yourself. fishing with that, he wanted her to say that but she didn't and she gave good political advice but unfortunately when they became president, hr haldeman, nixon's chief of staff and the chief of staff in many ways, not critical ones, he really drove a wedge between nixon and his own wife. >> he spent more time with the president. >> she felt isolated, mad at haldeman, and she knew her
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husband well enough to know what the tapes would sound like. >> so did a lot of other people in the question became will you build a bonfire on the white house lawn, who will strike the match? the president's not very faithful irish that are? the valley. that would be obstruction of justice, gone to prison for 100 years. >> actually not true. a day before the subpoenas arrive, they could have burned the tapes, all hell would have broken loose. i wrote a book about that, that was his advice. bertha takes on the front line before the subpoena arrives, you
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can weather the storm. >> could have given them to gordon liddy and he would have eaten the tapes. and held his hand over them. to see how much pain he could endure. there is an uplifting moment on that last tragic day that we do want to take some questions. >> yes we do but we have another 7 minutes or so before we need to do that. >> there is an uplifting moment i would like to close on because i do not want people to think this book is 300 pages of blood and tears. >> i appreciate you doing that. i may have overemphasized it. >> there was a young man who is gone now, on the national security council staff. a marine who went on to become a diplomat serving in iraq, lebanon, saudi arabia, syria,
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yemen, he was the american ambassador in bahrain in the 1990s and he sadly died in 2005 at the age of 65. he is on the nsc staff, wanders to the east room where nixon -- his final address about how you destroy yourself and nixon is in a trance, the military aid with him is brazen and telling him where he is and what is going to happen and what is going to happen next, nixon gives a speech and remember the gloomy gray august morning, the helicopter is waiting on the lawn. nixon leaves the white house, says farewell to gerald ford and walks to the chopper. young david michael ransom, then 32 steps out onto the balcony on
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the south to watch nixon fly away and there are two people standing next to him on the little balcony, just enough space for the three of us to be there. one is this young nsc aid, 6 x 6, and the others, secretary of defense, james lessons are --'s lessons are, he signaled his departure with two fingers raising the v sign and he entered the helicopter, it cranked up very slowly, lifted off and disappeared into the gloom of the morning, almost a hunted seen. as the helicopter faded, the three men looked at each other, he takes a pipe out of his mouth, bangs it on the railing of the portico and says it is an interesting constitutional question but i think i am still
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the secretary of defense. i will go back to my office. he looks at the chef and says what are you going to do? the chef says i will prepare lunch for the president. the young nsc staff are said i thought of course the king is dead, long live the king. the cook had it right. our state was going to carry on, the president would want lunch and the cook went off, something important about the country, we may stumble but we don't fall. >> tim mentioned a man who could have two such daughters. there is a short passage i would appreciate evan thomas, even when the man was running the world he was very concerned about the people closest to him like rosemary woods and i was really startled to find in his book that at one point he dictated an entire letter so as not to include a word he was afraid she would not be able to
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spell so he changed the word and started over. he was concerned about small details and she was not a small person in his life. she is the one who for 16 minutes of the gap in the tape must have been somehow in the most gymnastic position where she could be -- >> i think that is a bad rap. >> i do remember a picture, might have been in newsweek that showed the position she would have had to hold for 16 minutes with her toe on the eraser button and her hand on the phone because she is answering phone calls and forgot for 16 minutes to lift her foot in any case. this was a passage about the day when prisoners of war come to the white house in released 491 prisoners and nixon wants to give them a party and captures a
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lot of style. >> you want to do the full thing? >> it is awfully good. >> okay. >> we have good time for questions. >> nixon's one bright light was the return of the 591 prisoners of war from vietnam. the state department greeted them one by one. the first pilot to be shot down and captured, nixon grabbed alvarez's arms and shoulders, saying you look good to the naval aviator who had spent eight years in captivity looking down and nixon said in a sovereign tone i tried, i really tried. the president and first lady wanted to give these men, some of whom had been in brutal captivity for years, the biggest party in the history of the white house. on the rainy night of may 24, 1200, guests on the south lawn in a great white tent, larger than the executive mansion.
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a pow crossed -- one of them had written to former prisoners of war and their families invited to wander through nixon's private quarters on the second floor. presenting nixon with a plaque inscribed our leader, our comrade, richard the lion heart. invited celebrities, john wayne, the pows i say ride into the sunset with you anytime. nixon introduced irving berlin, the aged songwriter with a gravelly voice with the most famous song god bless america, the men shouted and cried the last words, god bless america, my home sweet home. at 12:30 a.m. the party was still going strong, nixon went upstairs to the lincoln sitting room. sitting before the fire listening to the sound of laughter and music from below he felt he recalled this is one of the greatest nights of my life and he thought of watergate and was struck by an almost physical
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force. picking up the phone he called julie and trish and asked him to join him. my father seemed trained as if the emotion of the evening had been too much for him. nixon telephoned his friend, tv producer paul keys who organized the evening's performance, bob hope and sammy davis junior. no girly show for the first lady's instruction. with keys, the creator of laughter in, it was almost painful to see how sad daddy's face looked despite the laughter in his voice tricia recorded in her diary. nixon hung up, there was silence, and do you think i should resign? a wave of exclamations according to tricia, don't you dare think about it. she wrote in her diary, wanted to give him reasons to not resign.
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>> the next phone call he makes after midnight. he says, and he is either exhausted or drunk or both, he says wouldn't it be better for the country to just check out? no. seriously. i am not at my best. i have got to be at my best and that means fighting this battle, fighting it all out and i can't fight the battle. it has gotten to me and he gets to the point if you can't get the goddamn job done you better put in somebody who can. this is 15 months before he steps down. >> you keep hearing him deliver these lines to his daughters are getting his wife to assure him he must stay in the residency and you wonder has he just pulled off a set up? has he just gotten them to tell him what he must do? that is what he wanted to do.
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>> psychologically he does that. >> i think it is time for some questions. i would note as i read what is going on in the papers today there is an operative for mister trump who decid he wanted everyone to know who was wavering in their delegate dedication to him that they would be collecting the phone numbers of delegates in cleveland and publishing them so people could find them in their rooms and punish them for their infidelity. roger stone is his name and his first good political job, committee to reelect the president, working for richard nixon. gone but not forgotten. gone but back again. >> i think both your books are vital in looking at the
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individual nixon and people around him. at the same time, i think about all the victims of nixon and henry kissinger, not just in the beginning but going back at least five years, specifically in vietnam, chile, the united states. >> it goes back to 56. >> i wonder if you could comment on that, individuals as much as richard nixon. >> richard nixon along with j edgar hoover is the most powerful anti-communist in america for a very long time, and as terrible as communism was, it did destroy lives and a
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lot of people in this country, richard nixon was fully -- watergate hearings. and american foreign policy to the rise of the right immediately after world war ii and richard nixon's rise coincides with that time. >> nixon is the guy who goes to china. and any communist reputation. was a pretty bold diplomatic stroke using henry kissinger as the front man but it was nixon's
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idea, not this and are -- the first president to go to moscow where he signed, negotiate and find the first ever arms-control treaty. d├ętente is a nixon creation. and going to the left, one thing that is hard to pin down about nixon is a famous expression not from nixon but attorney general, watch what we do, not what we say. it is hot and interpretive but it could be moderate, she was always making deals with the democrats on capitol hill. democrats control congress. nixon created the environmental protection agency because he wants to save the represent waters, not entirely, he did it
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because the senator from maine was cranking up to the 1972 presidential candidate for the democratic party and nixon saw a way to outflank them by coming up with the epa. nixon refused to invite him to the ceremony for the cleaner clean water act. >> needs to watch what he says. >> what he says is the environment is not worth a damn to us. >> i am thinking beyond the political aspect you are talking about, the individuals typified -- soldiers were pushed to the point and encouraged for mass destruction or napalm being dropped on hundreds of thousands of people, just the tragedy, it didn't start with nixon. >> it didn't start with nixon. >> that part of the tragedy of life with their actions. >> if you just want to talk about the mystic policy instead of foreign-policy, the attorney
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general mentioned john mitchell who went to prison for three years and eight months for his obstruction of justice also said the country will go so far to the right you won't recognize it. he said that in 1970. the pendulum has shifted every 30 years or so. and the country did go quite a ways to the right. we have as the young nsc staffer, we may stumble but we don't fall. we have a self-correcting mechanism, the constitution. >> a couple quick questions. regarding the midnight visit to the lincoln memorial was there any indication it could have been alcohol fueled in any way? didn't henry kissinger report -- >> he was loaded. >> something along those lines. >> he hadn't slept well for days
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and he had had a few. >> regarding the tapes, what was nixon's initial thought, what was happening with those tapes? to what use were they going to be put? >> he didn't put the system in until february 1971. he actually took out johnson, nixon ripped it out, nixon didn't want to be eavesdropped on by the pentagon. the system was installed by the pentagon and nixon was afraid the pentagon would be spying on him. nixon was right, the pentagon did spy on him not through taping but a yeoman was going to the nsc staff and lincoln and the joint chiefs of staff, you can't make it up. >> everybody was spying on everybody else. >> nixon became particularly
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upset about henry kissinger boasting about foreign-policy achievements, he was a national security advisor, but that was nixon's idea. nixon, when they write their memoirs he wants there to be a record that shows what happened. that is the impetus for putting in those tapes and kissinger later said he paid an awfully high price for that. >> absolutely right, to guard himself against the inevitable and continuing memoirs of henry kissinger. and also to write a multimillion dollar white house memoir. >> it never occurred to him that these are going into the president a library, many people would be able to listen to them. >> and thought they were his tapes. >> something like $17 million. he fought for years and years to
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keep the tapes out and ultimately lost but it took forever. >> i used to be a student here back in the day when the lot of this was going on but i have a question. not so much looking back but looking to our present and possibly our future, you made a comment a little while ago that said democracy lasted 400 years. that was a unique time. vietnam, you had riots in the cities. in a lot of ways nixon was himself not -- at the time he was a reflection of the times. if we don't advance from back then until now. hopefully we don't have riots in the cities, but i wonder, my question goes to the system. we have a self-correcting system but what we have is a system where back in those days you have liberal republicans who
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decided against the president and to a great extent were responsible for him stepping down. we had the polarization then that we have now, would we have ended up with a constitutional crisis and an end to democracy and what does that do about the future? [laughter] >> polarization, thank you. the polarization that gripped washington, where you had an impeachment process in full swing and no question nixon would have been engaged in the house, convicted in the senate and criminally convicted as a private citizen for obstruction of justice or other crimes. has now spread, thanks in part to the political strategies of
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richard nixon, specifically the southern strategy where he is pulling off the racist governor, former governor of alabama george wallace whose shot nearly killed, after winning primary after primary in the democratic race so if you put conservative republicans together with conservative democrats, essentially segregationist platform, then you can build a coalition that lasts. i think that coalition was broken in the 2008 election and we will see if anybody can reform it in the 2016 election.
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>> a question of process -- [inaudible question] >> thanks. >> i am usually loud enough and don't need one of these. the question is process. we have listened to a lot of nixon tapes. i assume they have been transcribed and indexed and things like that. are they available online, on the internet now? how did you go about it? >> you too can go online to a professor at texas a and m, one person listened to all the tapes, every one of them has put a lot of them online and it is fun to roam his site. amazingly have not been transcribed, partly because they are so hard to decipher. i listened, did my listening --
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with a head set so you could hear them on the tapes at the presidential library. a lot of the best tapes were from nixon's hideaway, mumbling past each other and the transcripts very depending on who is doing them. some people use the word ambassador, or did he say bastardized? their difficulty is you have to spend a lot of time on them to really understand them. they have not been transcribed. i think there is some talk, it would be an enormous project. >> there are other sources of the nixon library itself, has put everything that is available online and you can listen online.
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there is also a remarkable feat that has been accomplished by the state department. under law since the civil war, state department publishes a series called foreign relations of the united states, and the historians at the state department have done an astonishing job of transcribing nixon tapes relating to foreign-policy that have never previously been transcribed and they are stunning. and revelatory and terrifying. >> we have time for one more question i think. >> thanks. >> both of you mentioned when the president talked to general haig isn't it time to give this up? did he have something darker in mind?
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>> he has a story further along than tim's story, the summer of 1974, nixon brings up the whole old image of a military tradition where an officer leaves a pistol in a drawer and nixon according to haig raises the possibility should you leave a pistol in a drawer for me and that made haig anxious that nixon wanted to kill him. other people were worried nixon would kill himself and i don't know. it is hard to know how much of these are cries for help and seeking reassurance and indicates true suicidal ideation and they -- one thing about him, he would get knocked down and come back again and again. he was finished off in 62, beaten for governor and he will
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not have dick nixon to kick around anymore and in 1968 running for president. even after he is driven from office he moved back, he could have just played golf, had this beautiful house, moves back to new york and lived a block away from arthur's lessons are, they hated him. and in the thick of things surrounded by people who couldn't -- and he and bill clinton towards the end. >> two month after he resigned. october 1974. that was compounded, it flares up, and he goes into coronary
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crisis. he rushed to the hospital and his doctor. and -- wake up. and he spent 20 years of his life, and and there was an obvious and largely successful -- to create him as a global statesman, and 20 years later, finally use the tapes and the journals and the recollections and interviews and get a great sense of what nixon was like.
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and talking to tim weiner. nixon is the one. the tragedy of richard nixon. and also to evan thomas, author of being nixon, a man divided. [applause] >> strongly recommend you find and read our books. highly recommended. [inaudible conversations]
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[inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations] ..
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