I started H.R. Haldeman’s The Ends of Power, which Haldeman co-wrote with Joseph DiMona. Haldeman was White House Chief of Staff to President Richard Nixon.
Why did I decide to read this book? Well, Haldeman has somewhat
fascinated me. I suppose that he has ever since I read Eli Chesen’s President Nixon’s Psychiatric Profile,
which noted Haldeman’s 1950′s style haircut, and also the fact that
Haldeman was a devout Christian Scientist. Moreover, I have long read
and heard that Haldeman was rather intimidating, and I often wonder what
is underneath people who put on a tough front.
So far, The Ends of Power gets into some of the intricacies
of Watergate. Reading this book is similar to my experience of reading
volume 2 of Nixon’s memoirs, which talked a lot about Watergate. This
is not because Haldeman necessarily agrees with Nixon’s account:
Haldeman agrees with Nixon in some areas, but disagrees with Nixon in
others (i.e., what was discussed on the 18 and 1/2 minutes erased from
the tape). Rather, the two are similar because of their ambiguity.
Both of them, on some level, agree that the break-in at the Democratic
Committee’s headquarters was a mistake, and Haldeman takes some
responsibility for it, even though he says that neither he nor Nixon
ordered it or even knew about it until after it occurred. (UPDATE: Later in the book, however, Haldeman says that Nixon wanted
information about DNC chair Lawrence O'Brien, and that this might have
been an impetus for the break-in.) And yet, both
Nixon and Haldeman say that they don’t have much of a problem with
bugging because Democrats did that, too. The initial reaction of Nixon
and Haldeman, according to their accounts, was that the break-in was
stupid, since what was at the DNC headquarters? But they stop short of
criticizing the mindset that was allegedly behind the break-in: the use
of bugging to gather information on one’s political opponents. I’m just
speaking based on my reading of Haldeman so far.
Consequentialism for me but not for thee
15 minutes ago