Thursday, April 4, 2013

RN: The Memoirs of Richard Nixon, Volume 2:19

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

1.  Nixon talks about the energy crisis.  In the spring of 1973, the king of Saudi Arabia declared that the Saudis would reduce the amount of oil that it sent to the United States, unless the U.S. reversed its pro-Israel policies.  Nixon denied that he was pro-Israel or pro-Arab, affirming that he was for peace in the Middle East.  But an embargo still came!

What was Nixon's response to this?  Essentially, Nixon's goal was to reduce American energy consumption, but also to encourage the expansion of the production of domestic oil and natural gas.  Nixon also supported clean coal, for he wanted energy that did not pollute.  Nixon opposed rationing gasoline because he feared this would create a bureaucracy as well as a black market.  Meanwhile, Henry Kissinger was talking with the king of Saudi Arabia and also President Anwar Sadat of Egypt.  (And it's interesting that Kissinger was the one doing this, since Nixon says in volume 1 that he delegated the Middle East to Secretary of State William Rogers, for Nixon feared that Kissinger would not be the right guy to build bridges with the Arabs on account of Kissinger's Jewish background.  Moreover, Kissinger in volume 1 strikes me as very pro-Israel.  In volume 2, however, Kissinger is involved in Middle Eastern policy, as he negotiates agreements between Israel and Arabs and has discussions with Arab leaders.)

Nixon narrates that he had some successes in terms of getting his agenda passed.  He signed an Alaska pipeline bill into law, and the U.S. was reducing its energy consumption.  But Nixon says that a lot of his agenda did not get passed.  Later during Nixon's Presidency, "seven of the nine Arab states finally agreed to lift the oil embargo" (page 560).

Nixon's energy policy had elements that would appeal to liberals (i.e., conservation), but also to conservatives (i.e., increased exploration and production in domestic energy and the relaxation of regulations).  My question is this: If the energy crisis ended under Nixon, why was it an issue under President Jimmy Carter?

2.  On pages 562-563, Nixon complains about the House committee that was to inquire into his impeachment.  Nixon points to indications that members of the committee were actively rooting for his impeachment, through words, bumper stickers, etc.  Nixon did not expect for them to be fair or impartial.  One name that I recognized was that of Charles Rangle, who called Nixon a criminal.  Rangle was (and still is) a Congressman, and he has run into his own scandals (see here).

Nixon in volume 2 often presents the investigations into the Watergate scandal as a witch-hunt.  In Nixon's account, investigators ignored when Democrats committed misdeeds, while jumping on him and his Administration; the press was hostile to him, not to mention inaccurate; there were few Republicans on a particular committee, and thus they lacked the resources to do the research that might add balance to the one-sided witch-hunt; etc.  The thing is, Nixon occasionally depicts Senator Sam Ervin and others Nixon criticizes as being fair, primarily when they dismiss (in an informal sense) certain accusations against Nixon.  By appealing to his opponents, Nixon is probably hoping to present the accusations as ridiculous!

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