On pages 137-138 of President Nixon: Alone in the White House, Richard Reeves talks about the children of prominent Nixon White House workers who were protesting against the Vietnam War. (I mean that the children were protesting, not the workers.) Reeves states:
of Ehrlichman's children were demonstrating at their schools.
Haldeman's daughter Susan was demonstrating at Stanford in Palo Alto,
California, along with Ehrlichman's son Peter. Vice President Agnew's
fourteen-year-old daughter Kim wanted to join the crowds, but he was
able to stop her. William Watts, a Kissinger assistant working on the
November 3 speech, came up from his National Security Council office for
fresh air and saw his wife and daughter walk by outside the White House
fence holding their candles."
This was interesting to me, the
same way that the political ideology of Richard Nixon's daughters, Julie
and Tricia, has been interesting to me. By and large, Julie and Tricia
stood by their father's Vietnam policy. But the children of some
prominent people within the Nixon White House, such as H.R. Haldeman,
John Ehrlichman, and Vice President Spiro Agnew, were against the war.
What was that like: for the children to disagree with their father
politically? Did that disrupt the children's relationship with their
father? Were these children like Patti Davis, one of Ronald Reagan's
daughters, who was allegedly resentful of her father's conservatism, and
seemed to make no bones about challenging her father in public?
I was not able to do a thorough research project on this question, but I found a couple of things. This passage from the book Anti-Americanism: Historical Perspectives
talks about how disagreement about the Vietnam War was common in a
number of conservatives' families. William F. Buckley, Jr. was
defending a hawkish approach to the Vietnam War, but his son Christopher
got student deferments from the draft. Pat Buchanan's brother, Brian,
participated in anti-war protests as a Xavier College student. (Come to
think of it, I do recall Pat talking in Right from the Beginning
about debates he would have about the Vietnam War at his father's
meal-table.) Susan Haldeman not only protested against the Vietnam War,
but that passage states that she actually visited Chile to support its
leftist leader, Salvador Allende.
The thing is, though, from what I
have read online, it does not seem to me that Susan Haldeman expressed
any public hostility towards her father. Rather, she seemed to be loyal
to him. Her brother Peter wrote,
"In the spring, just before my father resigned, a reporter had tracked
down my sister at college; the interview ran in a local paper under the
headline 'Susie Haldeman Calls Her Father a 'Fun Guy.''" I recently
found H.R. Haldeman's The Ends of Power at a local library
giveaway, and, while I did not read all of it, I stumbled upon one part
of the book where Haldeman talks affectionately about his children. He
says that they liked the comic strip Doonesbury (which, as you
may know, is very left-wing), and H.R. Haldeman requested from its
writer, Gary Trudeau, some originals of the strips that made fun of him
(H.R. Haldeman), so that Haldeman could frame them. I realize that H.R.
Haldeman would repudiate parts of The Ends of Power and blame
them on his co-author, but I'd like to think that this story is true and
that he had a good relationship with his children, even though there
may have been political disagreements.
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