For their recent book, authors Douglas Brinkley and Luke A. Nichter listened to more than 3,700 hours of tape from President Richard Nixon’s first term. Now, Vanity Fair is publishing excerpts of that audio — and while the conversations aren’t exactly the Watergate tapes, they do offer a fascinating window into how the Nixon White House viewed social issues.
In one conversation with Chief of Staff Bob Haldeman and National Security Adviser Henry Kissinger, Nixon said he thought gay people were “born that way” — a decidedly progressive opinion for 1971. But that seemingly progressive opinion quickly turned to the bigoted conventional wisdom of the time.
“They have a problem. They’re born that way “¦ [But] my point is that Boy Scout leaders, YMCA leaders, and others bring them in that direction, and teachers,” he told his advisers. “But the point is, look at that, once a society moves in that direction, the vitality goes out of that society. Now, isn’t that right, Henry?”
But, whether he knew it or not, some members of Nixon’s own administration were gay. Roy Cohn — an informal adviser to Nixon and chief counsel to Sen. Joseph McCarthy during the infamous hearings — was gay.
But the highlight of the excerpts comes when Nixon tries to draw a comparison between gay rights and women’s place in society — specifically, their right to use expletives. He takes umbrage at the idea that women are allowed to swear:
Nixon: I mean, you’ve got to stop at a certain point. Why is it that the girls don’t swear? Because a man, when he swears, people can’t tolerate a girl who is a —
Haldeman: Girls do swear.
Haldeman: They do now.
Nixon: Oh, they do now? But, nevertheless, it removes something from them. They don’t even realize it. A man drunk, and a man who swears, people will tolerate and say that’s a sign of masculinity or some other damn thing. We all do it. We all swear. But you show me a girl that swears and I’ll show you an awful unattractive person… . I mean, all femininity is gone. And none of the smart girls do swear, incidentally.
This notion — that only women who are hideous nincompoops use curse words — is now delightfully antiquated. After Haldeman points out that women do, in fact, swear, Nixon takes it as if it’s a revolutionary new idea that had never occurred to him. But if Nixon wanted to connect with today’s young voters, he’d have to do a lot more than stiltedly ask, “Sock it to me?”
What We're Following See More »
After keeping the information private for most of the lead-up to the debate on Monday, it has been revealed that longtime Clinton aide Philippe Reines has been playing the role of Donald Trump in her debate prep. Reines knows Clinton better than most, able to identify both her strengths and weaknesses, and his selection for a sparring partner shows that Clinton is preparing for the brash and confrontational Donald Trump many have come to expect.
- A national Washington Post/ABC News poll shows Clinton leading Trump by just two points among likely voters, 46% to 44%.
- A national Bloomberg poll out Monday morning by Selzer & Co. has Clinton and Trump tied at 46% in a two-way race, and Trump ahead 43% to 41% in a four-way race.
- A CNN/ORC poll in Colorado shows likely voters’ support for Trump at 42%, 41% for Clinton, and a CNN/ORC poll in Pennsylvania has Clinton at 45% and Trump at 44%.
- A Portland Press Herald/UNH survey in Maine has Clinton leading Trump in ME-01 and Trump ahead in ME-02.
More than 30 times, in the case of some donors. Long before Cruz endorsed Trump—and before he even snubbed the nominee at the Republican National Convention—"the senator quietly began renting his vast donor email file to his former rival, pocketing at least tens of thousands of dollars, and more likely hundreds of thousands, that can be used to bankroll the Texan’s own political future."
"A new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll found that 34% of registered voters think the three presidential debates would be extremely or quite important in helping them decide whom to support for president. About 11% of voters are considered 'debate persuadables'—that is, they think the debates are important and are either third-party voters or only loosely committed to either major-party candidate."
Will he or won't he? That's the question surrounding Donald Trump and his on-again, off-again threats to bring onetime Bill Clinton paramour Gennifer Flowers to the debate as his guest. An assistant to flowers initially said she'd be there, but Trump campaign chief Kellyanne Conway "said on ABC’s 'This Week' that the Trump campaign had not invited Flowers to the debate, but she didn’t rule out the possibility of Flowers being in the audience."