Oh, and the blacks, Irish and Italians. But mostly, the Jews. It’s like Christmas come early, at least for political geeks such as myself. More tapes were released by the Nixon Presidential Library this week, and there’s some real zingers in them.
Richard Nixon was one of our smartest Presidents. And the most paranoid. Pat Buchanan, one of his former aids, has a saying to the effect that while LBJ built the foundations of the modern welfare state, it was Nixon who put fifty stories on top of it. Nixon was a bit of a closeted progressive, founding the EPA, taking the country off the gold standard, taking the US out of Vietnam and promoting detente with the Soviet Union. But, whatever good he accomplished in his presidency, he screwed himself in the end with his paranoia, the end result being Watergate which consumed and ultimately destroyed his administration.
Nixon was also a bit nuts. He had his office bugged, at the suggestion of LBJ, to what end, I’m not really sure. But, lucky for us, he did, and for that we have his musings on Jews, Italians, blacks and the Irish. With everything that we already know about Nixon, he doesn’t offer up any surprises, the slurs being pretty predictable. You know these are the kinds of things that people say, or at least used to say in 1973, you just hate to imagine that the speaker is the occupant of the Oval Office.
And, for as outrageous as Nixon was on the Jews, guess who did him one better? Why none other than Henry Kissinger of course, a Jew himself. Here’s an excerpt of the tapes, describing what happened after the Israeli prime minister was pressing Nixon to help get Jews out of the Soviet Union:
“The emigration of Jews from the Soviet Union is not an objective of American foreign policy,” Mr. Kissinger said. “And if they put Jews into gas chambers in the Soviet Union, it is not an American concern. Maybe a humanitarian concern.”
“I know,” Nixon responded. “We can’t blow up the world because of it.”
Nothing quite like a Holocaust comparison to start the weekend.