In new Nixon transcript, Tricky Dick declares August ‘dull’

August 13, 2013
Ellsworth Davis/TWP
Ellsworth Davis/TWP

You agree with Richard Nixon.

Okay, maybe not on everything. But we think most people will concur with the former president on the subject of a newly transcribed tape from mid-August of 1971, in which the then-leader of the free world remarks on how painfully slow things can get in Washington this time of year.

Tell us about it.

Thanks to our friends from the presidential-recording project at the University of Virginia’s Miller Center (who obviously are far more industrious this month than most of us), here’s how the conversation goes: It’s the evening of Aug. 11, and Nixon is talking to his chief of staff Bob Haldeman. After four minutes and seven seconds of conversation that we can assume were important and business-related — since it was excised as classified information — the president seemed to be fishing around for news.

To the transcript! (Though for the full effect, you can take a listen to the actual tape here, though the audio’s a little scratchy.)

President Nixon: Anything else new?

Haldeman: No.

Pause.

President Nixon: August is really a dull month.

Haldeman: Yeah, it is.

President Nixon: I was just looking at the news the other night. All dull. The only thing — biggest news is [Harmon] Killebrew hitting 500.

Haldeman: [Laughs] Yeah. It really is. There’s . . . [unclear]–

President Nixon: People tend to relax and so on.

Haldeman: Try to do what the European countries do [unclear] like France, just close up [unclear].

President Nixon: The world needs a day off. . . . Okay. Thank you.

Haldeman: All right.

 

An earlier version of this post had incorrect punctuation: because of an error in the official transcript, it quoted Nixon saying Killebrew hit “.500.” He hit “500″ home runs, not a “.500″ batting average.

Emily Heil is the co-author of the Reliable Source and previously helped pen the In the Loop column with Al Kamen.
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Al Kamen · August 13, 2013