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The Best of the Nixon Years
Newly released documents from Henry Kissinger's time at the White House supplement an already rich record of tidbits about the 37th president
May 27 - About 20,000 pages of memoranda and transcripts of telephone conversations conducted by Henry Kissinger as secretary of State and national-security adviser were released Wednesday by the National Archives in Washington, D.C. The documents are remarkable in that—much like a series of recently released White House tapes secretly recorded by the president himself—they provide a snapshot of the inner workings of the Oval Office, of the president's complex relationship with Kissinger and of Nixon's xenophobic view of the world. NEWSWEEK has compiled some of the more revealing quotes by and about the 37th president and his aides from the new and previously released transcripts. Excerpts:
"Can we tell them 'no?' When I talked to the president, he was loaded."
—Henry Kissinger to his aide in October 1973 when British Prime Minister Edward Heath's office tried to set up a telephone call with Nixon about the Arab-Israeli war
Kissinger in an exchange with the longtime ambassador from the Soviet Union, Anatoly Dobrynin before inviting him to a meeting:
Dobrynin: "I heard that you were sitting with a very nice girl … and I guess I have her picture?"
Kissinger: "Oh, yes?"
Dobrynin: "In the calendar. I think she was on this Playboy calendar."
Kissinger: "Oh, you're a dirty old man."
Dobrynin: "… she's a real nice girl."
Kissinger: "… she's very attractive. I hope she isn't a nice girl."
This exchange between White House chief of staff Alexander Haig and Kissinger reveals Nixon jokingly threatening to drop a nuclear bomb on Congress as it moves to impeach him in March 1974:
Haig: "I was told to get the football."
Kissinger: "What do you mean?"
Haig: "His black nuclear bag ... He is going to drop it on the Hill."
Nixon and aide Charles Colson in June 1972 discuss the successes produced by a recent military buildup in the Vietnam War:
Colson: People are beginning to sense that we're doing pretty damn well, that American casualties are down, which they are … 19 Americans killed last week. They're used to hearing about 25 killed on automobiles in a weekend …
Nixon: … We want to decimate that god----ed place … North Vietnam is going to get reordered … It's about time. It's what should have been done years ago.
"The writers are predominantly Jewish in all … They wrote this show for the purpose of making the hard hat look like a boob."
—Nixon in January 1972 discussing the CBS television show "All in the Family" with chief of staff H. R. Haldeman and Press Secretary Ron Ziegler
"I want to be sure he is a ruthless son of a bitch, that he will do what he's told, that every income tax return I want to see I see, that he will go after our enemies and not go after our friends."
—Nixon describing his ideal candidate for IRS commissioner in 1971
"You know what happened to the Greeks? Homosexuality destroyed them. Sure, Aristotle was a homo, we all know that, so was Socrates. [...] Do you know what happened to the Romans? The last six Roman emperors were fags. [...] You know what happened to the popes? It's all right that popes were laying the nuns. That's been going on for years—centuries."
—Nixon in May 1971
"I can't shake hands with anybody from San Francisco."
—Nixon in May 1971 declaring the Northern Californian city "is the most faggy god----ed thing you could ever imagine"
"We're going to [put] more of these little Negro bastards on the welfare rolls at $2,400 a family—let people like [New York Sen.] Pat Moynihan ... believe in all that crap. But I don’t believe in it. Work, work—throw 'em off the rolls. That's the key ... I have the greatest affection for [blacks], but I know they're not going to make it for 500 years. They aren't. You know it, too. The Mexicans are a different cup of tea. They have a heritage. At the present time they steal, they're dishonest, but they do have some concept of family life. They don't live like a bunch of dogs, which the Negroes do live like."
—Nixon in May 1971
"You see: homosexuality, dope, immorality in general—these are the enemies of strong societies. That's why the communists and the left-wingers are pushing the stuff; they're trying to destroy us."
—Nixon in May 1971
"You know, it's a funny thing, every one of the bastards that are out for legalizing marijuana is Jewish. What the Christ is the matter with the Jews, Bob? What is the matter with them? I suppose it is because most of them are psychiatrists."
—Nixon to H. R. (Bob) Haldeman in May 1971
"I'd rather use the nuclear bomb."
—Nixon to Kissinger, a few weeks before he ordered a major escalation of the Vietnam War in 1972
"You're so goddamned concerned about the civilians, and I don't give a d—n. I don't care."
—Nixon to Kissinger in 1972, admonishing his aide about concerns over killing Vietnamese civilians
"He's just an uncomfortable man to be around. Strange."
—Nixon in August 1972 discussing California governor Ronald Reagan with H. R. Haldeman
"Look, people get drunk ... People chase girls. And the point is, it's a hell of a lot better for them to get drunk than to take drugs. It's better to chase girls than boys."
—Nixon on a graphic account of Amb. Arthur Watson's groping stewardesses while drunk on a March 1972 flight to Washington