In the long, tortured life of us baby boomers, Dick Nixon is the sweating, nefarious crank in our history, always the turd floating across the ages to become the anchor-villain of modern American politics.
Apparently the guy was a bigger asshole than we’d figured, and way-creepier.
Watergate guy and super-rich ‘journalist,’ Bob Woodward, got his hands on some more Nixon files, long forgotten, and produced another book, “The Last of the President’s Men,” which went on sale today — the files portrayed Nixon’s ordinary bullshit writings, personal memos to Hank Kissinger, and some highly-classified CIA bulletins.
In reading excerpts, a sense of a true wonder how the Oval Office makes people such depraved douchebags — thousands upon thousands of people died for an election.
(Illustration found here).
Woodard gained access to a shitload of documents literally lifted from the Nixon White House by Alexander P. Butterfield, deputy to Chief of Staff H.R. Haldeman.
Butterfield was the one who during the famous Senate Watergate Committee revealed the existence of the infamous Oval Office taping system, and creating the subsequent historical political-tomfoolery. He left the White House in 1973 with two cars loaded with documents — a full 20 boxes.
Some detail on taking the material in an interview on Sunday with David Martin at CBS News:
When Butterfield left, he took his files with him, including some documents classified as “Top Secret.”
“How did you just walk away with them from the White House?” Martin asked.
“It was easy — I just walked away with them,” Butterfield replied.
“Well, I did the wrong thing. No one’s supposed to do that.
“But I felt, to tell you the truth, that those papers were safer with me than with anyone. I’d been around classified documents — that’s no excuse — but I’m saying I wasn’t going to show these to the wrong person, and I was going to take good care of them.”
Nearly 40 years. Two years ago he turned the documents over to Woodward.
Via a review of the book found in the Orange County Register on Sunday, and a worsening image of a near-insane asshole — noted highlights:
Nixon’s note to Henry Kissinger, then his national security adviser, on Jan. 3, 1972, was written sideways across a top-secret memo updating the president on war developments.
Nixon wrote: “K. We have had 10 years of total control of the air in Laos and V.Nam. The result Zilch. There is something wrong with the strategy or the Air Force.”
The day before he wrote the “zilch” note, Nixon was asked about the military effectiveness of the bombing by Dan Rather of CBS News in an hour-long, prime-time television interview.
“The results have been very, very effective,” Nixon declared.
Nixon’s private assessment was correct, Woodward writes: The bombing was not working, but Nixon defended and intensified it in order to advance his reelection prospects.
The claim that the bombing was militarily effective “was a lie, and here Nixon made clear that he knew it,” Woodward writes.
Butterfield depicts Nixon, who died in 1994, as forceful and energetic, but also vengeful, petty, lonely, shy and paranoid.
Butterfield felt deeply conflicted; he was proud to be serving but chagrined to be caught up in the underside of Nixon’s presidency.
“The whole thing was a cesspool,” he told Woodward.
The “zilch” note was followed in February by orders for intensified bombing of North Vietnam.
On May 8, Nixon ordered the mining of Haiphong Harbor and bombing of key military targets.
On Sept. 8, Nixon reported to Kissinger that poll numbers favored the bombing.
“It’s two-to-one for bombing,” he boasted.
On Oct. 16, just weeks before the election, Nixon recalled the May 8 decision to mine the harbor and told Kissinger, “May 8 was the acid test. And how it’s prepared us for all these things. The election, for example.”
Kissinger replied, “I think you won the election on May 8.”
Nixon was reelected by a landslide in November.
In that election year, the United States dropped 1.1 million tons of bombs in the Vietnam War, including 207,000 tons in North Vietnam alone, Woodward reports, citing Pentagon records.
Butterfield also saw Dick Nixon up close, and creepy:
Woodward says Butterfield felt that “Nixon was quickly becoming the oddest man he’d ever known.”
“It was if he were locked in his own deeply personal world, thinking, planning and churning,” Woodward writes of Butterfield’s impressions.
Butterfield described Nixon as so lonely that he often took dinner by himself in the Old Executive Office Building, sitting with his suit coat still on, writing on his legal pad.
“He was happiest when he was alone,” Butterfield recalled.
Nixon’s relationship with his wife, Pat, was cold, Butterfield observed.
At the Winter White House, a compound in Key Biscayne, Fla., she stayed in a separate house.
Butterfield told Woodward that Nixon was controlled by “his various neuroses, the deep, deep, deep resentments and hatreds – he seemed to hate everybody. The resentments festered. And he never mellowed out.”
And now after a generation…