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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
      • 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 say, the age of mass media has changed the political atmosphere, and I think the media is just as culpable as the public servants. From a realpolitick perspective, I am not surprised that the things public people say are different than what they actually think. That does not make it right, but it seems to me like a likely consequence of the situation.