Nixoniacs and Reaganophiles will want to take a listen here …
So in the midst of the escalating Watergate crisis, Ronald Reagan, the then-governor of California, called the president to offer his support. The tapes of this conversation and others were released today.
The final installment of secret recordings from President Richard Nixon’s White House captures future president Ronald Reagan calling to offer support after Nixon delivered a public address on Watergate. The April 30, 1973, phone conversation was released Wednesday, along with 340 hours of tape and more than 140,000 pages of documents.
Reagan, then California governor, called Nixon in the late evening after he had delivered a speech as the Watergate crisis picked up speed. Earlier that day, two top White House staffers and the attorney general had resigned and the White House counsel was fired. Reagan reassures Nixon of his support and says the speech was on target.
Here’s a chunk of that convo …
Ronald Reagan: I just wanted you to know for whatever it’s worth, you can count on us, we’re still behind you out here, and I wanted you to know that you’re in our prayers.
Richard Nixon: How nice of you to say that. Well, let me tell you this. Each of us has a different religion, you know, but goddammit, Ron, we have got to build peace in the world. And that’s what I’m working on, and, here in America and all the rest. I just want you to know I so appreciate your calling and give my greatest love to Nancy. How-how’d you ever marry such a pretty girl? My God!
RR: Well…I’m lucky.
RN: As I was lucky.
RR: Yes, yes you were.
RN: How nice of you to call.
RN: You thought it was the right speech did you?
RR: I did. Very much so.
RN: Had to say it, had to say it.
After talking briefly about the White House resignations …
RN: Where are you now? Are you in Sacramento?
RR: No I’m in Los Angeles.
RN: Good for you. Get out of that miserable city.
RR: Well …
RN: Well it’s damn nice of you to call.
RR: This too shall pass.
RN: Everything passes; thank you.
RR: You bet. Give our, give our…
At that point Nixon either stopped taping, or–my preference, by far–he hung up.
1) Yo, Mr. President, what’s with the Sacto putdown?
2) You really have to hear that last thought, “Everything passes; thank you,” to appreciate the sheer Nixonness of it. He utters that bromide with such dismissive futility–nihilism, even–that it’s turned completely on its head. I’m tellin’ ya, I got the chills.
To engage in your own foray into presidential pop psychology or even catch a little snatch of history, listen to more of the newly released tapes at the Nixon Presidential Library & Museum site.