Such defenses of Nixon's blaring taped outbursts often -- usually -- fall on deaf ears. Some are understandably reluctant to accept that the most powerful man in the world didn't usually mean what he said.
But now the family of a disgraced Vietnam-era officer, Maj. Gen. John D. Lavelle, is marshaling evidence from the tapes, namely yet more Nixonian outbursts, to show that the general was carrying out his commander-in-chief's orders. Charles A. Stevenson, a Johns Hopkins University lecturer who used to be a U.S. Senate staffer, opposes the restoration of Lavelle's honor -- and sure enough, he too has discovered that, with 37, presidential commentary doesn't always add up to presidential action or culpability:
Hat tip Maarja Krusten
Stevenson...noted that Nixon blew a lot of hot air in his Oval Office meetings, rants that shouldn't be mistaken as official policy.
"Nixon said an awful lot of things to his staff, that his staff wisely did not implement," Stevenson said. "Nixon had a practice of saying outrageous things as if they were orders."