A Memo From Nixon
Say what you want about Nixon -- he's dead and can't hurt us anymore, probably -- but the guy could at least write a memo! Thanks to the federal government's seizure of the Nixon Library, a whole bunch of new evidence is finally coming out of the vaults, so we can thrill to the literary stylings of Richard M.
In this 11-page memorandum, (PDF) Dick is trying to put across some heavy political concepts to chief of staff H.R. Haldeman. The document reveals a Nixon who was amazingly aware of how much everybody thought he was a creep. Also, it's pretty hilarious how he always refers to himself in the third person.
Here are some highlights from the mind of a man who would even let the children of his Cabinet members go to some Christmas church service if that's what it took to prove that he had some vague, alien sense of whatever these "humans" found important in life:
* The net result of this operation has been to create the impression among average voters -- an impression which is gleefully underlined tim e and time again by our opponents in the press, that we are an efficient, crafty, cold, machine, both in operating the government and all of our political activities. This impression has been underscored by the backgrounders which have been held by our top White House people. They are basically efficient no nonsense kind of people who are self conscious when they talk about anything which is human, warm, or personal in character.
* There is a mystique which goes far beyond that which has to do with basic elements of character and, due to the fa ct that we have had no one on our staff who understood public relations, we have been utterly deficient in creating that mystique.
* Kennedy's record in foreign policy as Kissinger points out, over and over again, was an utter disaster. His "charm" saved the day for him.
* There are in numerable exam ples of wa rm items -the way we have gone far beyond any previous President in this century in breaking our backs to be nicey-nice to the Cabinet, staff, the Congress, etc., around Christmastime in terms of activities that show personal concern, not only for them, but for their families. For example, the Church Service, every other person who comes through that line practically gets tears in his eyes when he thanks us for allowing them to bring their children to church.
* There are such little things such as the treatment of household staff, the elevator operators, the office staff, the calls that I make to people when they are sick, even though they no longer mean anything to anybody, the innumerable letters I have written to people when they have fallen on bad days, including even losing an election. I doubt if any President in history has ever written somebody who has lost an election. But I write to them in terms of their families and how hard they had worked, etc.
* All of this must be handled subtly and under no circumstances am I going to sit down with anybody and start telling them all the good de eds I have done. Again, such things, to be believable, have to be discovered, and one of the great factors that should be emphasized is that the President does not brag about.an the good things he does for people.
* Incidentally, on the warmth deal, the fact that after the Ohio State Game I called the Coach at Purdue -- a team that had lost 8 games this year, and where the Coach is probably on the way out, and told him how I fe lt he had done an awfully good job under terribly difficult circumstances.
Best-ever Nixon document [Slate]