Nixon Papers Reveal War on Media, Kennedys and Modern Art

In his private memo to Haldeman, Nixon hints that he realizes he may have a personality problem with the public: "The people like a warm president and a competent one, but they also want one who is a courageous, bold leader who will step up and hit the hard ones. I am inclined to think that we have a pretty good record in that respect, but even in the foreign policy area, where the record is outstanding, it just hasn't come through."

For those truly interested in Nixonology and Watergate, the newly released material has plenty of detail but few real revelations. The nuggets include more on the Nixon campaign's infamous dirty tricks. Also, there are discussions that lead to G. Gordon Liddy being chosen to run the secret intelligence operation that culminated in the Watergate break-in.

More detail, too, on a "mole" hired to keep tabs inside the 1972 campaigns of Democratic candidates. The mole, a journalist referred to as "Chapman's friend," kept an eye on Sen. Ted Kennedy's amorous activities. The mole also talked privately to Democrats about other Democrats.

Hubert Humphrey, for example, had little good to say about the man who would later win the Democratic nomination, George McGovern: "If he (McGovern) was left to talk and negotiate with world leaders, he would get all flustered, be totally on the defensive and we would have a man who would be almost mum and on the defensive. His welfare proposals are a school boy's dreams."

Nixon Seeks Purge of Kennedy-Era Modern Art

Nixon on culture, architecture, etc. In a memo to Haldeman, he writes that "..those who are on the modern art and music kick are 95 percent against us anyway. I refer to the recent addicts of Leonard Bernstein and the whole New York crowd. When I compare the monstrosity of Lincoln Center with the Academy of Music in Philadelphia, I realize how decadent the modern art and architecture have become.

"This is what the Kennedy-Shriver crowd believed in, and they had every right to encourage this kind of stuff when they were in. But I have no intention whatever of continuing to encourage it now."

"P.S.," Nixon added, "I also want a check made with regard to the incredibly atrocious modern art that has been scattered around the embassies of the world."

Nixon does not write of anyone coming uninvited to his White House dinners, but in a couple of memos he expresses strong views on who should be invited. In a 1970 memo to aide Alexander Butterfield (who would later famously reveal the existence of the Oval Office taping system), Nixon is upset that some people he wanted invited to a dinner were not and vice-versa: "Once again we seem to be rewarding our enemies and ignoring out friends."

Donald Regan would later serve as Ronald Reagan's Treasury secretary and chief of staff. But Nixon, in 1970, was unimpressed and saw no need to invite him to dinner: "Don Regan of Merrill, Lynch is so-so. He is a power on the Street but a number of people on Wall Street have done much more for us than Regan."

Finally, regarding Washington Post publisher Graham, mentioned above, who died in 2001, Nixon found it necessary to invite her to a Medal of Freedom dinner, but clearly had to hold his nose while doing it. Nixon said he would personally select the people to sit at his table and at his wife's table. He added in a memo to Bob Haldeman, "...put Kay Graham at a table as far away from our tables as possible and preferably at one where there is no VIP whatever."

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