Wednesday, January 1, 2014

The Ends of Power 10

On page 319 of The Ends of Power, by H.R. Haldeman (with Joseph DiMona), we read of Haldeman’s reaction to an instruction that President Richard Nixon gave to him.

“[Nixon said:] ‘I want you to go in the other room and call Colson and check out two things.  First, find out exactly what he discussed with Hunt’s lawyer when he met with him in January.  Specifically, I want to know whether he mentioned the President in any way when he talked about clemency for Hunt.  And I want to know precisely how Colson raised the point and what he said.’  Since I didn’t know that Colson had discussed clemency with Hunt’s lawyer in January, this order came as a bit of surprise, but I was used to that.  It was Nixon’s habit to assume that I knew what he was talking about, or that I would somehow find out.  He didn’t often waste much time explaining to me.”

One characteristic of some people with Asperger’s (or so I have read) is that they blurt things out without offering much context for what they are talking about.  I’m not sure if this is true of all people with the syndrome, for there are people with Asperger’s who are known for delivering monologues, and I wouldn’t be surprised if those monologues provided context.  But I know that, in the case of myself and certain other people with the syndrome whom I have encountered, we tend to say things without providing much context for what we are saying.  And people look at us quizzically, wondering what exactly we are talking about.

This is something for me to work on, insofar as I can.  I think that one reason that I may not offer a lot of context is that I don’t like to talk.  Another reason may be that I don’t feel that people give me much of a chance to provide context, for they lose interest in what I am saying and turn their attention onto something else, or I get cut off.  In this case, maybe one thing for me to work on is to try to hold people’s interest.  Perhaps I can dramatize what I am saying!

In writing this, I’m not dogmatically suggesting that Nixon had Asperger’s.  As a lawyer and a politician, there were plenty of times when he provided context for what he was talking about.  But perhaps he preferred not to do so when he did not have to.

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