Sunday, December 26, 2010

Troubles, And Troubles

In a fascinating analysis of a 1992 Seymour Hersh article about the struggle between Richard Nixon and the National Archives over his White House records, Maarja Krusten tells the kind of Nixon story we don't often read:
Since ‘tis the season, I’ll mention an example from Christmas time. Hersh’s portrait of Nixon does not take into account stories such as the one in Haldeman’s diary (which we at NARA processed during the early 1980s) about Nixon’s quiet Christmas Eve visit to the Washington Home for the Incurables. The president told Haldeman, “Boy, we think we’ve got troubles.” The chief of staff noted in his diary, “It’s just amazing to watch him in this kind of situation because he handled it so well.”

1 comment:

MK said...

Thanks for posting a link! What I especially like about the Christmas Eve visit is what Haldeman writes about the lack of press coverage. He writes of Nixon:

"He refused to take any press or even let them know he was there until afterr he had gotten back, which drove Ziegler up the wall, but made the visit work out extremely well. I watched him for awhile as he went through and he did a superb job of dealing with the kids or older people as he would hold on to an arm to keep it from waving around and then shake the hand. He talked with them in a normal conersational way, even though they couldn't talk back."

That's P at his best! We at NARA knew this, of course, as we processed for disclosure the entire Haldeman diary during the early 1980s. (I've never found out why the expected early 1990s opening we worked out with Bob Haldeman in the 1980s never occurred.)

Naturally enough, when Bob Haldeman finally got the diary published himself--he died in 1993 right before that occurred--the press jumped on the more sensational diary passages about Rogers and Kissinger and Billy Graham's reported comment about "satanci Jews." None of which Hersh knew or reported about in 1992, of course, although we at NARA knew it already.) To my knowledge, I'm the only one to point out pssages in the Haldeman diary such as this one.

No press meant no photographers, of course! The P really did do this for the people at the home and in the spirit of Christmas, in my view. Not everything is calculated and political, although the most cynical observers often assume it is.