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All the Perl that's Practical to Extract and Report

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  • Somewhere in the middle of college I read all of Nixon's books. I was born in 1970 and grew up being told that Nixon was the anti-christ, and I figured I had had enough of that and wanted to see what he had to say.

    I was astounded but some of the things he talked about. Secret bombing of Cambodia? Nixon says that he had a deal with Prince Sihanouk because neither of them wanted the North Vietmanese there. Many other incidents, especially his travels and dealings as vice president ( Rn: The Memoirs of Ric [amazon.com]
    • Yeah, while Nixon did a lot of things we don't approve of, and in some cases certainly were quite bad, Nixon talked briefly about how Kennedy and Johnson did similar things (for example, he said Kennedy and Johnson were both involved in buggings that had nothing to do with national security, including buggings of various lobbies, of Goldwater, of members of national conventions, etc.). It seemed to me Nixon was not trying to excuse himself, but to let people know that he wasn't all that different from the men who came before him.

      Something he talked about a little more was the idea that he was President at an extraordinary time, and that what he did must be considered in the proper context. He had inherited a very bad and very unpopular war, one that he thought he had a responsibility to win, one that he thought the consequences of losing were too severe to accept. He was paranoid, true, but he did have a lot of enemies, and leaks, and he was at the beginning of the age of mass media, where relatively minor things can significantly damage you much more quickly and easily; he was dealing with it in the only way he thought he could.

      Again, I am not excusing what he did, but I just have to wonder how many other Presidents under similar circumstances would have acted similarly; and, too, if he would have acted similarly if it had all happened 20 years later, with more insight under his belt into how to handle yourself in the age of mass media.

      Anyway, things to ponder. Maybe we could just sum up his presidency by humming a few stanzas of "We Didn't Start The Fire." ;-)
      • Lyndon Johnson was the real gadget freak. He recorded everything.

        The Civil Rights Musuem [civilrightsmuseum.org] in Memphis, Tennessee has recorded phone calls between Johnson and Governor Wallace. The things that they actually discussed were not the issues that I was taught in high school history classes.

        Some of the recently released Johnson tapes also show that his public position on Vietnam was not his private position. Much like you say, he inherited a bad situation and a lot of people working at cross purposes.

        As you sa