Friday, December 10, 2010

You're Welcome

At 12:38 p.m. Eastern time, I left this comment at the Wall Street Journal about its Nixonite personnel error:
You’ve got the personnel wrong on the July 1971 Haldeman notes. Haldeman was then chief of staff; Haig was Kissinger’s aide.
By 1:20, when I checked back, reporter Louise Radnofsky had modified her copy to read:

Mr. Nixon ordered his aides to exclude all Jewish-Americans from policy-making on Israel, according to formerly classified notes taken by then-chief of staff H. R. “Bob” Haldeman on a meeting with the president in July 1971. “No Jew can handle the Israeli thing,” the notes read. Later in the one-page excerpt, Mr. Haldeman writes, “Forget the Jews — they’re against” the administration.

That stipulation explicitly includes then-national security adviser Henry Kissinger, with accompanying plans to keep him out of the loop. The notes say that “whenever K calls — [then-aide Alexander] Haig should notify P.” and, later, “get K. out of the play — Haig handle it.”


MK said...

Good catch! I was out all afternoon and didn't have time to post at the WSJ blog until just now. The article has been revised somewhat since the version I read this morning, which included the comment that Nixon be informed if Kissinger called. Your blog post captures it as it read then. The reporter misunderstood the part about telling Nixon if Kissinger called. That referred to the forthcoming China opening, not to the Mideast.

I saw the change before I read the old version captured in your blog, because I had left the version I first read this morning open in a tab, then clicked on your link to get the current version. (That's also how I once saw that a TNN blogger had taken a poster's suggestion regarding a point pertinent to his essay and incorporated it, without noting he had revised his blog essay or deleted the comment with the suggestion, LOL. I'm being careful to do strikeouts and bolding to indicate substantive revisions at my own blog. And if someone suggests something, and I act on it, I'm definitely not deleting the comment.)

I posted my own comments at the WSJ blog this evening, which suggest writers cross check Haldeman's notes and the diary. My comment reads in part:

"The notes and diary match up quite well in many instances. Hence my suggestion that it always is worth comparing the notes to the diary entry for the same day. The fullest version of the published diary (minus some restricted information, as we returned a slightly sanitized version to Haldeman in the 1980s as noted in the book) is on the CD version issued by Sony in 1994. However, you need an old computer to read it as its programming for the CD is set up to look at the start for a Quicktime 1.1. driver. If it can’t find it, it locks up. The published book has about half the entry included on the CD for July 10, 1971, enough to make clear that much of it deals with the forthcoming China opening, which is what the president asked to be informed on if Kissinger calls. (“Whenever K calls.”) The China trip announcement occurred 5 days later, on July 15.

As to Nixon’s comments about Jews, it was his habit to use Haldeman as a sounding board and sometimes as a safety valve. People who knew his habits understood or tried to differentiate between when he was venting, when he was expressing frustraion, and when he required action.. Haldeman himself later noted in his memoirs that not everything Nixon said constituted an action item, that as chief of staff he sometimes dragged his feet deliberately on some of the things Nixon talked about. When Nixon asked, “have you taken care of it,” Haldeman would say “not yet,” until the president sometimes finally let it go, saying “just as well.”

I'll post a few observations about the President and his reactions to people under your first item about the WSJ blog. I'll have to write something about the tapes opening for my blog, too, but may go with a lighter item first.

Fr. John said...

Thanks, MK. It sort makes we wince whenever reporters look at any Nixon office chatter, whether on tapes or via someone's notes, and make a snap judgment about the larger meaning before (or without) consulting other sources, memoirs, and so on.