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UNHEARD TAPES REVEAL MORE LIFE WITH NIXON

Here's what it's like: It's like reaching into an old bag of popcorn and finding a handful of kernels perfectly preserved and every bit as crunchy as you remember them.

It's the latest batch of hits, of course, from that Master of Tape himself - ladies and gentlemen, a warm 1990s greeting for Richard Nixon and the Break-ins!Actually, it's the National Archives that released tape transcripts, some 60 hours of Watergate-era conversations, including 28 hours or so never seen before.

Mostly, it's a question of choosing favorites. I mean, there's great stuff here - and these weren't even the major conversations! These are just your basic Life With Nixon. Where do we start?

Third runner-up: How about a July 1971 conversation where Nixon worries that too many people have access to classified documents? He's already talked to certain officials about a new security setup, but nothing's happened yet.

Nixon: "You remember the meeting we had here when I told that group of clowns that we had around here, Renchler and that group? What was his name?"

Unidentified Aide: "Rehnquist."

Nixon: "Oh, Rehnquist."

Less than three months later, Nixon nominates the head clown to the Supreme Court. Oops . . .

Second runner-up: Try a May 1971 conversation - Nixon's worried about anti-war protests spreading across the country.

Nixon: "Aren't the Chicago Seven all Jews? Davis is a Jew, you know."

H.R. Haldeman: "I don't think Davis is."

Nixon: "Hoffman, Hoffman's a Jew." And so on . . .

First runner-up: It's April of 1973; the Watergate coverup is coming undone. It'll be months before the country learns about the taping system, but Nixon and Haldeman haven't forgotten.

Nixon: "I always wondered about that taping equipment, but I'm damn glad we have it, aren't you?"

Haldeman: "Yes sir, I think it's, it's just one thing I went through today it was very helpful."

Nixon: "Yes. It's helpful because while it has some things in there that, ah, we prefer we wouldn't have said, we also have some things in there that we know . . . were pretty good, I mean."

Haldeman: "That's right." You bet.

And the winner, the absolutely best reminder of what it was like, is this one from September of 1972 - Nixon gliding to a landslide re-election and planning to pay back those who dared to oppose him. By pulling their tax records, for instance.

Nixon: "We have to do it artfully, so that we don't create an issue by abusing the IRS politically. And, there are ways to do it. . . . damn it, sneak in in the middle of the night . . . "