Sunday, March 24, 2013

RN: The Memoirs of Richard Nixon, Volume 2: 8

I have two items for my write-up today on volume 2 of Richard Nixon's memoirs.

1.  Nixon talks more about the Watergate scandal (which, as you can probably guess, will come up often in the remainder of this book).  In my latest reading, Nixon mentioned some of the bad things that the McGovern campaign and supporters of McGovern did.  Nixon narrates that supporters of McGovern broke into, burned down, and blew up Nixon campaign headquarters in different parts of the U.S.  There were also raucous pro-McGovern mobs that disrupted Nixon campaign events.  And Nixon relates on pages 215-216 that he himself was a victim of spying:

"After the campaign it was revealed that, for all its sanctimony, the McGovern high command was not above considering organized spying of its own.  At the highest levels of their campaign it was proposed that a paid operative be planted aboard Ted Agnew's campaign airplane to spy on Agnew and report his activities to the McGovern camp.  According to Senate Watergate Committee records, one of those responsible for this plan claimed that the same thing had been done successfully against my campaign in 1968."

In my reading of Nixon's memoirs so far, Nixon's account of Watergate has been interesting.  My impression is that Nixon had no problems with dirty tricks or bugging, for he says that the Republicans who were doing so were merely doing what the Democrats had done.  But he seems to have initially doubted that his intimate aides ordered or had advanced knowledge about the Watergate break-in, even if they may have wanted for the Nixon campaign to gather information about the other side.  (UPDATE: As my reading progresses, Nixon appears to waver on this doubt.) Clear as mud?

2.  On page 217, we read the following in Nixon's diary.  This entry was composed on the day before Election Day in 1972:

"Today I went down to the Red Beach, walked two miles, went in the water for about twenty minutes.  The tide went out further than I have ever seen it----a real ebb tide.  Whether this is a good sign or a bad sign only time will tell.

"When I went further down the beach----I decided to first go just to the half-mile mark and then went on to the peace sign which someone had carved in the red sandstone cliff, which is about three-quarters of a mile.  Interestingly enough, the peace sign had been worn down by the weather.  It was very dim.  It looked like a man with a frown on his face.  This may be an indication that those who have held up this sign finally have had their comeuppance and they are really in for some heavy depression."

Nixon...looking for signs in nature about what the future holds!  I don't know if Nixon was seriously that superstitious (or perhaps religious would be a better term), for he often strikes me in my reading as a hard-nosed realist.  Perhaps he was just letting his mind play around a bit!  As Bruce Mazlish notes, Nixon was a day-dreamer.  If I were taking a walk alone in nature, perhaps I myself would look for signs in my surroundings, while still recognizing that I had to do my part.  But, even when we have to do our part, so much depends on factors outside of our control, and so it's not surprising that there are people who seek some assurance from the universe that things would turn out all right.

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