Richard Nixon died almost 20 years ago. But the former president was back in the news, and not in a good way, this past week with the release of the final installment of the secret recordings he made of his phone calls and personal conversations.
This last batch of Nixon recordings — 340 hours of audio, 140,000 pages of documents — covers April 9, 1973, to July 12, 1973, the day before the existence of the secret taping system was revealed to the Senate committee investigating the Watergate break-in.
In the tapes, Nixon is characteristically blunt and often veers into his now well-known anti-Semitism and racism.
●Nixon on judicial nominees: “No Jews. Is that clear? We’ve got enough Jews. Now if you find some Jew that I think is great, put him on there.”
●Nixon on Jamaica: “Blacks can’t run it. Nowhere, and they won’t be able to for a hundred years, and maybe not for a thousand. . . . Do you know, maybe, one black country that’s well run?”
●Nixon on Watergate: “We’ve got to survive it! Good God, who the hell else can talk to [Soviet leader Leonid] Brezhnev?”
There are less offensive and more intriguing moments in the tapes, including calls that Nixon took from Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush after his first public remarks about Watergate at the end of April 1973. “My heart was with you,” Reagan, then the governor of California, told the president. “You can count on us.” Nixon resigned 15 months after that call. (Ah, if only we’d been around to hand out worst-week awards back then.)
Richard Nixon, for having your last chance at a bit of historical redemption come and go, you had the worst week in Washington. Congrats or something.
Have a candidate for the Worst Week in Washington? E-mail Chris Cillizza at firstname.lastname@example.org.