Wednesday, April 25, 2007
April 25, 2007 - Author Robert Dallek was interviewed on NPR's 'Fresh Air' tonight about his new book chronicling the intriguing and multi-layered relationship between former President Richard Nixon and former National Security Adviser and Secretary of State Henry Kissinger.
'Nixon and Kissinger; Partners in Power' draws on a tantalizing mix of Kissinger's phone transcripts, previously unreleased audio tapes from Oval Office conversations as well as documents from H.R. Haldeman and Alexander "I'm in Control Here" Haig.
Dallek, who interviewed Kissinger extensively, only confirms Nixon's strange paranoid personality with a variety of accounts that offer piercing insight into the Chief Watergate Conspirator. Some of the best; Nixon always insisted that he exit the door of Air Force One alone for full effect, (including the historic "de-planing" in China in 1972) and it really irked Kissinger; Nixon loathed the press with an unsettling hatred and contempt often labeling them "sluts" and "fucking cocksuckers" in private; while Dicky was ranting about the need to overhaul the Whitehouse staff for his second term, he did insist that they keep then RNC Chair George HW Bush on because "he'd do anything we asked him."
Most disturbing however, Dallek's descriptions of Nixon's surprisingly pedestrian anti- semitism. Nixon called Kissinger a "Jew boy" behind his back and to his face as well. The former President seemed to harbor a simplistic narrow-minded perception of Jews that was likely shaped in the WASPish Southern California (Yorba Linda) community in which he was raised.
As with most who harbor racist or bigoted views, there is absolutely no rationale to Nixon's anti-semitism (beyond his own personal insecurity, fear and paranoia) - Dallek relates a time in the Oval Office when Nixon was impatiently waiting for Kissinger to show up for a meeting. H.R. Haldeman noted that he (Kissinger) was running late and Nixon is said to have remarked, "Of course he's late! He's a Jew isn't he?"
Interesting how a figure enmeshed in complexities such as the Vietnam War, conflicts in the Mid-East and Watergate could harbor such a simplistic, distorted perception of people outside his own race and religion. Sadly the Nixon Administration is hardly the only Republican White House in which key power players were well known Anti-Semites.
Jim Baker anyone?