Friday, November 16, 2007


Not what you think.

On Nov. 17, 1971, President Richard Nixon talked with National Security Adviser Henry A. Kissinger. The conversation was recorded, of course.

They discussed Ronald Reagan, then governor of California.

The tape has just been transcribed, just in time for its 36th anniversary. The transcript is a political wonk's wet dream. Excerpts:
President Nixon: What’s your evaluation on Reagan after meeting him several times now?

Kissinger: Well, I think he’s a—actually I think he’s a pretty decent guy.

President Nixon: Oh, decent, no question, but his brains?

Kissinger: Well, his brains, are negligible. I—

President Nixon: He’s really pretty shallow, Henry.

Kissinger: He’s shallow. He’s got no . . . he’s an actor. He—When he gets a line he does it very well. He said, “Hell, people are remembered not for what they do, but for what they say. Can’t you find a few good lines?” [Chuckles.] That’s really an actor’s approach to foreign policy—to substantive—

President Nixon: I’ve said a lot of good things, too, you know damn well.

Kissinger: Well, that too. ... I just listened to his problems. ...

President Nixon: Can you think though, Henry, can you think, though, that Reagan with certain forces running in the direction could be sitting right here?

Kissinger: Inconceivable.

President Nixon: No, but it could have happened. ...

Kissinger: But (Reagan's) not hostile. He says he’s not—He repeated again, he’s not going to do any opposition. He’s willing to help. He’s eager to help.

President Nixon: Would he take Ambassador to the Court of Saint James? I’m sure he won’t go.

Kissinger: After the election?

President Nixon: Yeah. We’ve offered it to him. He doesn’t want it.

Kissinger: But what does he want?

President Nixon: But see he can’t be in the Cabinet. Well, I don’t know. Christ.

Kissinger: Doesn’t he want to be senator in ‘74? ...

President Nixon: ... No, I don’t think he wants to run for the Senate. No governor of a big state will be happy in the Senate. It’s that easy.

Kissinger: That’s right.

President Nixon: The Senate is a shitty job.

Kissinger: It’s a lousy job.

President Nixon: Well, it’s better than the House, but it’s still crappy.

Kissinger: Yeah.

President Nixon: Unless you’re the leader. ... Back to Reagan though. It shows you how a man of limited mental capacity simply doesn’t know what the Christ is going on in the foreign area. He’s got to know that on defense—doesn’t he know these battles we fight and fight and fight? Goddamn it, Henry, we’ve been at—

Kissinger: And I told him—he said, “Why don’t you fire the bureaucracy?” I said, “Because there are only so many battles we can fight. We take on the bureaucracy now, they’re going to leak us to death. Name me one thing that we have done that the bureaucracy made us do.”

President Nixon: The bureaucracy has had nothing to do with anything.
Shallow, but a nice guy. Little did they know.


Use the force, I do. said...

More than interesting, THAT is!
Like I do how Nixon brought it back to himself so quickly.
"I’ve said a lot of good things, too, you know damn well."
Insecurity. A fatal flaw it is.

Anonymous said...


Jason said...

Very interesting.

Anonymous said...

It speaks more to Nixon than Reagan. If the current president were to emulate more the traits of Reagan than Nixon, our country would be better off.

Good find, Ron.

Busplunge said...

I've got friends like that:

"Enough talk about me, let's talk about you. How do you like my shirt?"

Strannix said...

Ronald Reagan was never more than Lew Wasserman's hand puppet.

Anonymous said...

And electing Democrats will fix things... how, again?

Anonymous said...

Where did someone mention electing democrats??? Oh, I get it. YOU want democrats elected. Sly, real sly.

Anonymous said...

Oh, hell, no. If I wanted Democrats elected, I'd just move to Cuba and start living their lifestyle straight up, no chaser.