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