The latest Nixon texts and tapes are out — including his previously sealed 1975 Watergate grand jury testimony — and scholars and Nixon-philes and -phobes are poring over the paper carcass.
Initial reports: The Trickster has come through once again, with some revelations — though nothing really new on the 1972 break-in. It was done by what he called “clowns” and “bunglers.”
He notes, however, that wiretaps and the like were commonplace.
And nothing on the famous 18 1/2 minutes of tape from a key Watergate cover-up meeting.
We haven’t had a chance to wallow in depth through the nearly 300-page grand jury transcripts, done after a pardon from President Ford — a pardon Nixon says he only reluctantly accepted.
Overall, the documents show that “in his own way, Nixon was a great communicator,” says Steven Aftergod, who heads the Project on Government Secrecy for the Federation of American Scientists. “His presence and personality are vividly conveyed by the transcript. With Nixon, it was not just business. It was personal.”
Very personal. A colleague points us to page 94, where Nixon tells the prosecutor that he is taking blood thinning medication every day at noon.
“That means that if I am ever in an accident and start to bleed I will bleed to death unless the doctor is there within ten minutes,” he reveals. Then he gets off one of the great Nixon lines to Richard Davis, the prosecutor questioning him.
And on page 219, Nixon lifts off to another planet, a place where he’s clearly talking to the paintings of former presidents hanging on the wall.
“I would say that our campaigns in ‘68 and in 1972,” he testifies, “in terms of what we did, were clean campaigns.”
Well, that all depends on what the meaning of the word “clean” is.