President Richard Nixon apparently thought the assassination of President John F. Kennedy might quickly fade from the country’s collective memory, newly transcribed audio tapes show.
Not exactly. All the events and reminiscence leading up to the 50th anniversary on Friday of the tragic event say otherwise. And although Nixon assumed that recollections had faded less than a decade after Kennedy’s death, it still cast a shadow on the 37th president and his aides, according to our friends at the University of Virginia’s Miller Center, who are transcribing the tapes of Nixon’s White House years.
The subject arose in August of 1971 when Nixon was discussing travel plans to Dallas and New York with his top aide, H.R. Haldeman, the tapes show. Kennedy had been shot during a motorcade in Dallas less than eight years earlier. Nixon, however, seemed to think a motorcade wouldn’t be a problem.
The assassination, Nixon told Haldeman, “was so far back in the public consciousness.”
Though the conversation ended with Nixon assuming they would do a motorcade of only “three or four blocks,” the president ultimately traveled through the city via helicopter.
Listen to the tape here:
In another transcribed conversation from just a few months later, Nixon and his secretary, Rose Mary Woods, realize that it is the anniversary of JFK’s death. “You know, listen, I had not thought of it, but …” Nixon says as Woods calls to the president’s dog. “This is the day the — ”
“That Kennedy was …” Woods says.
“Right,” Nixon replies.
Listen to it here (complete with yaps, courtesy of First Dog King Timahoe):