How Will Richard Nixon Be Remembered?
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How Will Richard Nixon Be Remembered?


This thing work today? Yes. Good. I’m glad. Sandy, on many occasions can ‘t get the sound system right. I’m glad that he’s got it right today. Let me welcome you to the Sixth Nixon Legacy Panel. We are happy today that C-Span is covering this event and we welcome them. Clare Booth Luce told President Nixon that in a thousand years they will say Nixon went to China. We all know that Watergate is a part of our history, but there was much, so much more. Not just a great foreign policy agenda, but a lesser-known domestic agenda. I think you’ll be pleased to hear the panelists today talk about some of those other initiatives. Legacy moments, as we like to call them. The past Legacy Forums have been the organization of the domestic policy program, the use of the President’ s time, an environmental policy forum, and a forum on Watergate. Our next panel will be in September, and it’s the peaceful desegregation of our Southern schools, which President Nixon gets very little credit for. That will be held here at the library. In October, the Pat Moynihan in the White House. His story has never been told and his papers have just been processed by the National Archives. So, with that, let me introduce our panel today. I’m doing it in alphabetical order, not as they are seated. Barbara Franklin, a very distinguished corporate entity at this stage, was a staff assistant to the President and led the task force to recruit women into the Nixon Administration. Larry Higby was deputy assistant to the President and Chief of Staff for Bob Haldeman. He is also a new member of the Nixon Foundation Board. Tod Hellen was President Nixon’s domestic counsel and Associate Director for Housing and Community Affairs, later at the Department of Defense. Fred Malik was the man that was put in charge of presidential personnel, he was a Special assistant to the President for presidential personnel, and I think most of us give him credit, as you’ll hear today, for the caliber of people that were brought into the Nixon administration, and then subsequently went on to many other presidents. He was also the Deputy Director of the Office of Management and Budget. So with that, Todd, let me start with you, and…
Bobbie. Bobbie. Oh Bobbie, I’m sorry. I’m sorry. Actually, I should have been doing it the way I was doing it here. Bobbie Kilberg, excuse me, was a White House Fellow, and she was Staff Assistant to the President of the United States and the Domestic Council. Sorry about that, Bobbie. And with that I’m going to ask Todd to sort of, set the stage for what it was like in the fall of 1968, as we were elected. Presidents are defined by their times. It’s true in these times and it was true in those times. After forty plus years we tend to forget what it was like in 1968 during that presidential campaign. Let me just review some, quickly, some of the issues. The Cold War was raging. The Soviet Union was the Soviet Union, not Russia. We each had thousands of warheads pointed at each other and our allies. There was tension across the world at every spot, and we felt probably that China might align with Russia, should there be some kind of a conflict. It was a very tense and dangerous world, and the probability of us having an exchange frightened the entire world. The Soviets had invaded Czechoslovakia. The North Koreans had taken down a spy ship called ‘Pueblo’ in disputed waters. So, this was a time with the Soviet Union and the U.S. really squaring off. Today, we look at Russia as an economic competitor more than a military threat. Vietnam was raging, there with 550 thousand troops in Vietnam when the President took office. Tragically we were losing a thousand military service people a month. Just after nine years in Afghanistan we just crossed the thousand mark, tragically also. We were losing a thousand a month when he took over. Student demonstrations across the country were disrupting campuses and communities. There were riots at the ’68 convention, which I’m sure we all remember, in Chicago, which kind of set the tone for that campaign. And LBJ, because of the war, pulled out of the nominating process and turned it over, because Gene McCarthy was making so much run, a good run for the nomination. We had assassinations that year that were tragic. Martin Luther King was assassinated. That led to urban riots throughout, racial riots, throughout the country and just about all the racial centers and we had, those riots created a loss of around 50 lives in a very short period of weeks. Racial tensions were high. Robert Kennedy was assassinated in June. So the country was a little bit in shock. Vietnam was standing there, and we were losing our leaders. There was disruption in our youth and trusted me in our racial relations. This was a tough time. LBJ’s Great Society was announced with great flourish, but it had left a number, it first it had created vast bureaucracies in Washington to make decisions for the local level, and it had left a number of issues unaddressed. That welfare mess was, as it was called frequently by the press, was creating a ‘culture of dependency’. School desegregation had been ordered by the courts, but hadn’t really been undertaken. We had women’s rights were coming into their own, there was the ERA amendment, Equal Rights Amendment for women, being proposed for the Constitution. Native American rights, the Indian movement, was taking form then. Those of us who were in the White House at that time remember well, in ’69 to ’70, the formation of AIM, the American Indian Movement which was a militant operation that was formed in 1968. Russell Means headed that, so the environmental issues were just coming to the floor, we were continuing to pollute our rivers, our waters and our skies at an alarming rate. America was just awakening to that. In 1969, when the President took office, but in the November election of ’68, it was not a landslide. Forty three percent of the vote, he won by five hundred thousand votes. Todd, I can add a little bit to that because we were tracking every day how the polling every day on how the election was going. On Saturday, President Johnson came out and made a statement that he thought that peace was at hand in Vietnam. On Sunday, Hubert Humphrey went ahead of us in our tracking pool. On Monday, President Johnson came out and sort of recanted his statement and backed off, and on Tuesday, we won the election. Yeah, and you may recall, that actually we didn’t know that he had won until 11:00 the next morning. That’s exactly right. Whole night of tracking. That’s a nice transition from the-
Let me make one additional point, because politically the President took office with both houses of Congress against him. The first newly elected President in a hundred years to take office with both houses dramatically against him. So the political climate was not a walk in the park here, nor was the climate in the United States. Right. Right. Larry, I think it would be, at this point, January 20th. He was sworn in 1969? What did we do? Well, actually, November 8th, I think it was.. we realized we won the election at 5 o’clock in the morning. I think we finally… we were at the Waldorf Astoria hotel that night. And we immediately realized we had a whole 90 days to set up the largest corporation in the world – the United States government. And one of the first things my boss, Bob Haldeman, asked me to do was go out and find all the books that had been published on how to set up presidencies. And there were a grand total of two. And the one that made any sense was a guy named Andy, Andy Goodpaster who was the staff secretary during the Eisenhower administration. And basically he had set up a government and a White House that was really focused on the cabinet. It was a cabinet run kind of organization. You go then to President Kennedy who just had, sort of, a circle of advisers around him, but no sort of formal process and frankly a lot the same thing as Lyndon Johnson. Everything was wherever Lyndon Johnson went. This president wanted to get a lot of things done, had a lot of problems on his plate, as Todd clearly laid out and it became very clear that you had to set up a different kind of White House if you were going to be successful. Probably the one thing we took from the past administrations was the National Security Council, which was an organization that worked very well on foreign policy and defense matters in this sort of thing. There was nothing that was even an equivalent to that in any prior administration on the domestic side, including the number of domestic problems and issues we wanted to deal with. We had to have some mechanism for getting that done, which led to the establishment of the Domestic Policy Council, which Todd served as the deputy on for a period of time. But this allowed us to begin to organize the agenda, initiatives we wanted to get done in the White House in a very different way. The other thing the President did, is he clearly looked at the government differently. He thought, decisions should be made in the White House and executed by cabinet members. Prior to that, cabinet members had each run their own fiefdom and just sort of reported periodic meetings into the White House. So it was going to be a very different White House, one that was very White House-focused in terms of decisions and actions and how we were going to get things done. The other piece that was unique, was setting up what I’ll call the office of the presidency, which was something nobody had ever thought of before. And this was an organization that Bob Haldeman really started as chief of staff to really combine all of the disparate functions that usually go on in a Presidency, from how you do accountability, how you track papers through a staff secretariat, how you get your speeches done, what press relations should be, what congressional relations should be. All of these things coming together, particularly in terms of how you move the president, how the president spends his time, he really thought about it.So you had a very different, very professional White House that was being set up to deal with the complexity of issues that Todd realized. And we had a whole 90 days to get that done. So it was a very exciting and very furious kind of period as we went into January 20th. Now once we did that, we had to also have a government that was organized along those same kinds of lines. And that’s where Fred became infinitely valuable, because Fred and his team really were the people that the government got to be organized, but more importantly, how it got to be staffed. The kinds of professionals, really meaningful people, we wanted to bring into the organization. My friend, that’s you. Well, the personnel process was a very fascinating one. In fact, Ron, I think mentioned, or Todd, the first thing I remember about the administration, I’m just a humble tool manufacturer in Orangeburg, South Carolina, running a company. I’m 31 years old. And I tune into television, and there’s President Nixon announcing in early December, his entire cabinet stood behind each cabinet member, talked about them, why he selected them, what their qualities were, and what he expected them to do in in the new administration. It was very inspiring to me, it truly was. And little did I know that three and a half months later, I would end up coming to Washington as the Deputy Undersecretary of the Department of Health, Education and Welfare. Well, it was a poignant moment too at the Shores Hotel when he did that, and it was televised nationally, and it was just one of those moments I think everybody was captured by. And it has never been done since, which was kind of interesting. I haven’t seen anything like that with the whole cabinet was there and pretty much in place at a very early stage. The quality was breathtaking. About eighteen months later, my experience with personnel really started. I was recruited over from ATW to become the presidential assistant for White House personnel. And President Nixon’s premise was that we can’t just rely on the people we know. The people that have supported us politically, the people that other political leaders, senators,and governors, recommend. We had to go out beyond that universe and broaden ourselves. and find the best quality people in the country to come in and staff the government, because that’s the only way we are going to truly be effective. Someone else would have to judge whether we’re successful. But let’s look at some of the merits of the people that we did have in that government and what they went on to be. Most, or I shouldn’t say most, but an abundance of modern day and recent leaders in political history were a product of Richard Nixon’s selection. We had future presidents. We had future vice presidents. We had future Secretaries of State, Secretaries of Defense, Secretaries of Commerce. We had future supreme court justices, future senators, future CEOs. Let’s look at a couple of those. I remember in, maybe three months into my tenure, maybe two months into my tenure, the White House personnel, I was meeting the President and Bob Halderman and were discussing various appointments. The President said, “We have a very talented young man we recruited to run for the senate. He lost in Texas.” George H. W. Bush. I think we have to make him Secretary, Ambassador to the United Nations. He did. He made him ambassador to the United Nations. Without Richard Nixon reaching out, there never would have been a President Bush, there never would’ve been a President George W. Bush. Others who were in that White House. There was a very young assistant to Don Rumsfeld. Don Rumsfeld was a councilor to the president. A very young assistant who we didn’t pay much attention to, at the time. His name was Dick Cheney. He went on to be Vice President of the United States. We had future Secretaries of State. Henry Kissinger of course, George Schultz, Al Haig and my OMB executive assistant, Colin Powell. Four Secretaries of State came out of that White House. Then, you look at the future economic leadership of the country. Herb Stein was Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers. One of his junior associates was a man named Alan Greenspan. He was in that White House. Of course, there was the speech writing staff. They didn’t amount to whole lot, but you had guys like Pat Buchanan and Bill Sapphire. Bill Sapphire who probably was the best political columnist I’ve ever read, bless his soul. And David Gergen and Ray Price. I know I’m missing a lot of good people, I better take a peek my notes here to make sure I didn’t. Paulson. Hank Paulson. Yeah, two secretaries of treasury, Hank Paulson and Paul O’Neill. And then there is Pat Moynihan, Nino Scolia and, oh yeah, there was this young assistant in the press office. She was kind of pretty but nobody returned her call cause she was too junior. We do now. That was Diane Sawyer. But, you know, the President wasn’t content just to rely on the strength of personnel, they also wanted to organize in a way that would make government effective. He had one basic premise that guided a lot of his thinking, and that is: the government was too big. Sounds familiar? The government is too big, too cumbersome, too unwieldy, too bureaucratic. So, he coined the phrase “The New Federalism”- I think he coined the phrase, I guess he and Moynihan did. And the idea was, “Let’s delegate more to the states, to the cities, to the other authorities in the nation, let’s take away from the federal government. We shouldn’t have that much power. We’re too cumbersome. We’re too unwieldy. We ‘re too complex. Let’s put more out to the states. Well, also right on that, what was happening was the accumulated power in Washington. The decisions were being made by bureaucrats on what kind of sewer systems were going into San Jose. I mean, it was really- He also believed that the level of government closest to the problem should be making the decision. The Federal Government had this stainless steel tax machine that could accumulate money. He created the revenue sharing, which is going to push money from the federal government back to the communities and have them make the decisions, given very broad guidelines instead of specific regulations. Exactly. I think that takes us into Barbara, former Secretary of Commerce and things that she did in the White House to recruit women. And then there it’s just as extraordinary as what Fred talked about. Oh, yeah, let’s talk about women. I think that what President Nixon did. I’m going to give you my bottom line first, then tell you how it happened. What he did to advance women in the federal government, actually served to bring equality for women, which was kind of a bra-burning contentious movement over here on the left. He brought it right into the main stream of American life. And that rippled through our society, changed our society. Terribly important. Now how that happened is, I think Pat Nixon was right in there, lobbying. But what happened at an early press conference was that Vera Glasser, who was a very attractive person, stood up and said,
“Mr. President, out of your first 200 appointments only three have gone to women.” And then she said something like this, I’m going to paraphrase. “Are we going to see more equitable representation of women, or are we going to continue to be the lost sex. And she said the President seemed a little surprised. But then he said, “You know, we’ll have to do something about that.” and things started to happen after that. And then by the time we got to April of 1971, there were three things that happened. I mean, Fred was crucial to this, but the President said, to each cabinet secretary and agency head, a request, well not a request. It was, you will send me an action plan about how you are going to train and advance women in your department, and I want them in a month. And then I was brought in. Again, Fred recruited me to, in turn, recruit women for high level jobs in government. And then James Spain was put at civil service to look over the career service. And we started out, it was a managerially-oriented effort here. And we set a goal of doubling the number of women in these high jobs in a year. Well by the time we got to a year, we had nearly tripled those numbers. And some of these people, in fact most of them, in jobs women had never held. Breakthroughs. And you hear names like Helen Bentley, and Virginia Knauer, and Katherine Bodell and I could go on and on. Carla Hills. And Carla Hills, and Marina Whitman, yes, who went on to other things. It was a great, great start and that just opened Pandora’s box and it continued, but maybe even more importantly during this time we had the first admirals and generals who were women. We had the first FBI agents and forest rangers and tugboat captains. These jobs. Park Service Ranges, we made a huge move on the Park Service. And that’s when it happened. A lot of things like this happened and I think it’s totally escaped the American public that this is where we went. I remember one particular instance and that has to do with the Supreme Court. In 1971, there were two vacancies. I had all kinds of women’s groups coming to me. Liz Carpenter came with bunch of names. I had a lot of women’s groups who were angry anyway visiting me. My job was a little more than recruiting, which was doing some of Well, you were a sounding board because I can remember them coming down the hall at the old EEOB. See you. I was down the hall. Oh, yeah. The pounding on my door. You, I Yeah. I guess they thought you were in our offices and we had to fend them off. The other day Just walk in and pound on the door. You didn’t go through all kinds of security. So, I got into all kinds of other issues. But anyway, we really tried hard to find women candidates for those two slots. And really, there just weren’t enough women in the pipeline who were philosophically compatible, and really qualified. However the Justice Department was in on this, and they floated the name of a woman, from actually his area, Mildred Lily, if anyone remembers that. Oh, yeah. The American Bar Association took her apart and that was kind of the end of that effort. However, the seed was planted that there would be a woman on the court and Ronald Reagan ended up doing it 10 years later. Now, we understand also that Pat Nixon was very much for this. And that when her husband didn’t appoint a woman, she let him know about it. And so, we thank Pat, but, bottom line here, I think President Nixon really did something of great importance in our society that started there and has just continued. And now equality is a given. That’s a great legacy moment. I want to hold up one thing. We decided, a few of us, almost 15 years ago, to try to document what happened because it’s not known. So we started an oral history project. We have fifty histories from the women who were there and were appointed. Some of the men who helped to make this happen, Fred and Bobby are both in it, and it’s called “A Few Good Women: Advancing the Cause of Women in Government 1969-74.” The collection is at the Penn State archive, it would’ve probably been here but then the library wasn’t equipped to do that at the time but we’re linked. We are now. Web is now linked. Okay. We have a book coming out to document, this is a coffee table type book, and because young people don’t have a clue of what happened or how it was back then, we have teaching aids that are already out, Grades 6 through 12. Modules that can get stuck into civics and history . So that this legacy of Richard Nixon which I think is really important should live on. That’s great. Right, a couple of other legacy things before we move on if I might, what we didn’t mention pioneering in the environment. We Republicans are often looked at as not being for the environment. But who created the Council of Economic Quality, Council on Environmental Quality? Who created the Environmental Protection Agency? It was Richard Nixon. It was the first Clean Air Act, the first Clean Water Act. Who created the Office of Management Budget, The Domestic Council, the Office of Telecommunications policy? Richard Nixon. Bobby, you were instrumental with John Ehrlichman in the domestic council, with Todd and all of that crew. But you were also very important in the development of the Native American. Among other things. But I just find that very interesting. People don’t know what President Nixon did. People don’t know what President Nixon did. No, they don’t. But before we get into that I think it is really important to understand that I personally believe, and I think probably everybody on this panel agrees,that there has been no presidency since who has brought the caliber and character of individuals to government that Richard Nixon did. I mean, it’s just extraordinary. That’s true. And that’s not a partisan statement. That’s Republicans or Democrats, it was really an extraordinary time with an extraordinary group of people. And two of those, I had the privilege of working for as a White House fellows. My husband Bill was a White House fellows and Geoff Shepard was here, who was a White House fellows. I had the privilege of working for John Ehrlichman and Ken Cole. And they are no longer. Sorry, I don’t mean to cry. But they are no longer with us, but I think we all ought to recognize the wonderful job that they did and the commitment they had to America, both of them. Good for you. Well stated. I was a very young staffer. I was a White house fellow. I was right out of law school and so in contrast to these guys, I didn’t see President Nixon very much. I think maybe I had five conversations within a 22 month period, I stayed, about 10 months over my White House fellows year. But my first 5 or 6 months, I was in the staff secretariat and therefore, I saw every piece of paper that went in to the president. And then I moved over, with Todd, to the Domestic Policy Council, so I saw it from a different perspective, i.e. developing the policy vs moving the paper to the president. But from both of those perspectives, I came to a conclusion that Richard Nixon was, number one, one of the most progressive Republicans of his generation, and number two , that he really did believe in attempting to further a just society in America. And I think people don’t focus on that. They focus only on the foreign policy. But Ed Cox and I were talking on the plane this morning about a law professor of jurisprudence at Duke that the president had and what an impact that those discussions that the president had with this law professor about the elements of a just society. And then you think about his Quaker background and the fact that his grandparents or great-grandparents were a part of the Underground Railroad. And all of that, I think, had a major impact on him. This is looking at it from an outsider. And so I made a list, it’s not a comprehensive list, but I made a list of the domestic initiatives that I most remember. And if you look at each one of them, they are all parts of an element of a just society that enables you to have empowerment, to have choice, to have opportunity and also to have protection for your citizens and some of these agencies which we’ve created have gone a little overboard over time. But nonetheless, they were clearly needed when they were created and they still have important roles to play. And I bet there are not 40 historians who even know that he did all this, as Fred said, The Environmental Protection Agency he created. Arisha, Arissa, Pension Reform, he laid the groundwork for OSHA. In the Labor Departments, protection for workers. The first affirmative action plan in the construction trade, the Philadelphia Plan. Welfare reform, H.R.1, the Family Assistance Plan, negative income tax, revenue sharing, healthcare reform. We may not like HMOs now but, before they went, they couldn’t creative, they were revolutionary in the sense of reforming healthcare. Family health insurance plans, Native American policy, the National Endowment of humanities, the National Endowment of the Arts, he implemented that. That had been passed just before Johnson left office but it had not been implemented. And he put a specific emphasis on participation in the arts and humanities by young people. He was very worried, I think, that young people were not having a broad liberal arts education. School desegregation in the South. and major increases in funding to historically black colleges so people actually had a choice. And black capitalism. And then if you take a look at Native Americans. And if you want me to I can talk about that now or I can wait more for Q and A, whatever you’d like. Let me ask you something. Go right ahead. Thank you. If you wanted just one stand point. Someone mentioned this morning about Ted Kennedy before he passed away on Healthcare. Was that you? One of the things he said, I guess, a few weeks before he died. One of the things he said was one of his biggest regrets was not supporting Nixon on healthcare. And had he, we could have gotten that through the finance committee in 1977. It wouldn’t be the albatross we have now. No, it wouldn’t be the albatross. But also, you know, the 18 year-old vote. People forget that. We were…
The draft. And we got rid of the draft. Volunteer Army. Volunteer Army. At the time we were pulling in several hundred thousand a year into the draft and the 18 year-olds didn’t have a vote. And the rallying cry was “Old enough to fight, old enough to vote.” So President Nixon established the 18 year-old vote. He eliminated the draft and we have now the all volunteer force, which I think by any measure is the greatest fighting force the world has ever known. And has been for quite some time. Yeah. Are you done? Wait. I just, one other thing going, I think the thinking behind some of his policies, both on foreign policy and domestic policy was innovative thinking and there was an empathy throughout on the domestic policy that people don’t talk about. This president, the one who indexed Social Security to inflation. Inflation was going up, we were in a war time economy, and inflation was over 6% a year. So it was really sucking dry the elderly in this country which relied very heavily at the time, more so than now, on Social Security. So there are a number of things that he took from principle and drive into policy and drove into politics, even with both houses against us.
Barbara, you were gonna make a point? Well, besides the women initiative, consumerism came to the forefront there. And he appointed me, and consumer products Safety Commission was one of the things that came into being. Nixon created. Created, absolutely, yeah. So, that’s just one more to add to your list. Yeah. Larry let’s move a little bit, just for a moment’s sake, on foreign policy. Well, I think everybody, when you hear the word Nixon, the next word is China. And I think that China will be remembered for a 1000 years. But in terms of real impact upon our society and upon the world, I think you have to take a broader view than that. First of all he had an incredible vision of the world overall, where it was headed and the issues that you had to deal with. And he put a lot of that together in what Henry Kissinger later described as The Linkage Theory: understanding the common needs and how people operate and how countries interact with each other to really make something happen. Probably the biggest example of that that was really successful, wasn’t just China but one that nobody talks about, which is the strategic arms limitation agreement or SALT talks as we liked to call them then, which was the first attempt and became successful in limiting nuclear weapons and limiting warheads in the world and led to a complete change in terms of how the Soviet Union viewed us and how we viewed the Soviet Union and when you combine that with what he did in Europe plus what he did with China, you have a complete reordering of the world. And the template that got established there is how the world operates today. And I think people say well, Regan ended the Cold War and on and on and on. The fact of the matter is, all this got changed because the direction got changed during the Nixon administration. So we can talk about foreign policy all day, and I’m not a foreign policy expert, although I did go on all of his trips with him, but I think that just that reordering really sets a very different world today than what we had. Well, it was also very important with the relationship that he had with Indira Ghandi. And not only that, but Golda Meir. Those were, I mean, Yom Kippur War, even at the height of the problems with Watergate and stuff, he moved right in there to help Golda Meir. If you go to that room we have here with the great leaders that he has met. I mean, he’s one of a few statesman that was able to know all the people from World World II, from the time they come up all the way through till they came to leading countries and really what their point of view was. And was able to deal with all of them on a totally different basis because he had known them for so long and interacted with them on so many things. And Larry makes a great point about the original SALT (Strategic Arms Limitation Talks) with the Soviet Union to reduce the level of warheads on each side. I was at a luncheon in New York where Henry, I mean, in Washington, where Henry Kissinger had a Q and A and he was talking about, he was going up the next day to testify on the nuclear rod reduction that Obama had put in place with Medvedev. And Kissinger’s point was he supported this, he thought it was a really good deal. But with the U.S. today and with its relationship with Russia there was a virtually zero chance that they would go into conflict with each other. Back in the 1970’s the probability was much higher. Yeah. That first Strategic Arms Limitation Agreement was huge and it did order the psychological impact of the West and the East. And it started a cascading going down, of separating as potential military adversaries and then it ended up becoming into economic competitors. A very, very big change. Can we talk China for a minute? Sure. Its a nice segue. And this is going to be fast forward to show you how current President Nixon was even when he was out of office. I think the China Initiative is the most stunning stroke of foreign policy, and now economic policy that I think I’ve ever seen that we will, you’re right, in a thousand years, this will still be talked about. And the relationship that was built has continued to grow over forty years through different administrations, Democratic and Republican. And it’s now one of the, well it is the most important bilateral relationship in the world and part of the economic fabric and for peace fabric that we have in the world today. Just stunning. He should be remembered for this. Fast forward 20 years to 1992. I was Secretary of Commerce. Now, while this relationship has grown, there have been some hiccups along the way. And one of them occurred in June of 1989 at Tienanmen Square when the Chinese government cracked down forcibly on the democracy wall movement. One of the sanctions, we placed eight sanctions on China after that. And one of them prohibited high level people from talking to each other. Which meant that some wonderful thing called the U.S.-China Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade, which was a Commerce Secretary to Commerce Secretary thing, couldn’t function, and it was building business. President Bush lost the election in ’92 and then he decided that I should go to China on a special mission to reconvene this entity that was more abound at that point and take away the sanction and give a gift, in effect, to the new administration. This was controversial. This mission was going to be controversial. There were people who really didn’t like China a whole lot. The politics were very different then than they are now. Well, as I was about to go, we threw this mission together. There appeared a lead story in the New York Times, on the front page that called this trip a boondoggle. Well, President Nixon saw that article. He called me and said, “see the New York Times? Ignore it. You’re doing the right thing, go.” That was reassuring. Then I asked him if he had any words of advice, and he gave me one liner, “Don’t slobber over them.” Do a little rewind on China. It was interesting when you talk about vision, actually the thought of going to China occurred in 1970. And it took him almost two years to put that whole thing together. And several times when Henry was supposedly going over to Paris to do peace talks, he actually was talking with the Chinese. And I’ll never forget the time he came into the office and said he had to see Bob for a minute and walked out and left. I said I understand Henry’s on his way, once again, to Paris. And Bob said, no, he’s going to China. I said, you’ve got to be kidding me. And he said, you’re one of four people that know it, and if anybody tells, you’re gonna be in really big trouble. But can you imagine the difficulty of trying to get Henry Kissinger into Pakistan, to go into China, to begin these negotiations . Well Dick Allen tells the story that. The time that it took to really put it all that together. When that came up and everything, he walked into the office and said to Dick Allen, he said, “The President’s gonna go to China? This guy’s crazy.” Henry was the one that was crazy. Well, wait a minute, we need to. Tell them what Vance said. We need to say something. Well, you were there. About Ron Walker, who advanced, yeah, that trip when there was nothing there, no communication activity, no diplomatic relations. Why don’t you tell the story about that? Well, Dwight could help me on that. It was probably the toughest advance I ever did. I mean, we arrived with 100 men. Had no Embassy. We took a Xerox in. We took a suitcase satellite in that the Chinese could not fathom what it was like. They wouldn’t let us hook it up. I had to drive for the first four days out to the C-141 at the airport, which is about an hour’s drive, to be able to talk to Dwight in the morning and then in the evening. Four days into this, I was still trying to get the suitcase satellite. We had an incident at one o’clock in the morning. One of the chief warrant officers in the communications came flying into my – and he was an African American – and all I can see was his white t-shirt, white pants, and his white eyes and he said the hotel’s on fire. I got up and there was smoke everywhere. Mike Schroth, one of our other advance men was in the other room, and I said, “Mike, we’ve got to get that suitcase satellite.” So I went running down the hall, and as I’m going down, there are Chinese coming down, and there’s a water hose going down, and water’s coming out of every one of these hoses. I mean they hadn’t moved, used that hose since the hotel was built. So I got back, got the suitcase satellite, came back, went to the fire escape to get out, and the fire escape was chained. I took the suitcase, tore the door down, and as we got into the hallway, it was stored with chairs and tables and we had to work our way get out of that hotel. It started in one room. It was one of the Hughes’ satellite. You have to realize, China had never, largest delegation they had ever had in their 25 years since the Great March was one from Pakistan, and there were 30 people in that. And we’re bringing 300 plus. But it was interesting. Which hotel were you at, Ron? It was the Hotel of the Nationalities . You own it now? We have several hotel ventures in China now and I go there frequently and in fact we have an association, a partnership with the largest hotel company in China, Jing Jang. And this is where the celebratory dinner, I believe the first treaty was signed in the Jing Jang Hotel. That’s correct. But the point I wanted to make is, you go over there today and you talk to the Chinese people and you say you work for Richard Nixon, you’re on a pedestal. He is revered over there. Trisha and Ed’s son, Chris, is running for the Congress in Long Island. If he went over to China, and they had elections and he ran for us, he’d win in a landslide. Ron, can I use that as a segue to go back to domestic policy for a second? Sure. Absolutely. Talking about a place where President Nixon is revered, and that is among the Native Americans, the Pueblo Indians in northern New Mexico. No demographer can ever figure out why it is that there’s this pocket in northern New Mexico and come heck or high water, they vote Republican every time. And that is because of Richard Nixon, and it goes back to also you talked about the SALT treaty and his focus on foreign policy. But he also, it seems to me, had a streak of stubbornness in him that if he felt something was right, even if it was gonna have an impact on something else he thought was important, he would stick with it on a matter of principle and that goes back to Native Americans as well. The President had a coach when he played, I guess Ed said it was fourth string football at Whittier, but they let him go in every once in a while for some plays and he had a coach named coach Newman, who was Native American. And in one of the few conversations I had with him, he looked me in the eye and he said, “Bobby,” he said, “That coach should have been playing in the big, should have been coaching in the big,” what do you call it, I’m not a football person? NFL. Top ten, NFL, whatever, top ten in the college, and he couldn’t because he was Native American, he was discriminated against, and that’s wrong. And he said, “And the policy that we have towards Native Americans is paternalistic, and is wrong, and is preventing them from having the opportunities everyone else had, and I am going to do something about it.” And he did. And you know, and it was in a way a variation of the New Federalism. And I’m gonna go through that just very quickly, but then I want to focus on Blue Lake which is something he’s known for particularly and which effected foreign policy in some interesting ways. But what the President basically said was that we wanted to have self-determination without termination. That meant, without ending the special trusteeship relationship that we had, that the Native American tribes have with the Federal Government. But he wanted to be able to give people an opportunity without forcing them to be assimilated into the broader Anglo society, if you will. If they did not want to, if they wanted to that was fine. But he believed in self-determination. He believed in the right and he put all this in legislation. The right of Indian tribes to contract and control and operate federal programs. He was determined to do something about Indian education. The average number of school years that an Indian child had in 1970 was six. And they were dropping out two times the national average from high school. He put in a number of proposals to improve economic development, both in urban Indians and in tribal reservation entities. He did a major Indian healthcare initiative. The average death age of Native American men and women was, in 1970, 44 years old. He established an Indian Trust Council Authority which was very controversial. And Jeff would remember this, he believed that independent of the Justice Department and the Interior Department. The Indians had the right to have independent legal representation when they were seeking to protect their natural resources rights. And he eventually made a very major settlement that enabled us, indeed, to have oil come flowing from Alaska and Alaskan native land claims. But, I wanna talk about Blue Lake. Blue Lake was something that caught the President’s attention and his determination and his spirit, and his just emotion. It was a lake sacred to the Taos Pueblo people, without which they cannot practice their religion. And they had 48,000 acres of land around it in the water shed. That land have been taken from them, unfairly and unjustly, 64 years before they put into national forest. Thank you very much. They desperately wanted it back. The president said that land belongs to them. They need to have it back. There was absolutely no, as there was with all all the other measures of the Indian policy, there was absolutely no political gain for him in doing any of this. The western states didn’t like the Indian message. They didn’t like the concept of turning anything back to the Native American people, but he did it anyway because it was right. One particular Senator, Clinton Anderson, this is in New Mexico by the way, one particular senator, Clinton Anderson, was very senior. He was a Democrat. He was on the Foreign Relations Committee. And I was taking this message, the day it was actually delivered was July 8, 1970, but I was taking it about two weeks before that to the press room to be released. And I was literally tackled by a wonderful guy named Ken BeLieu, who was head of the President’s Senate Legislative team. And he literally pinned me against the wall and says, “You cannot.” All the papers flew up in the air, he said,”You are not releasing that.” And I said, “Why? Why?” He said, “Because Senator Anderson, Clinton Anderson is gonna vote against the ABM Treaty if this goes forward.” And I said, “You’ve gotta be kidding me.” He said, “I’m not kidding you.” And he turned around and he kind of pushed me towards The Oval Office. And he called up in the outside office, I don’t know if that was where you were. And he said to John Ehrlichman, “You better get down here.” And John Ehrlichman went down there, and I wasn’t allowed to go in the Oval Office. But John Ehrlichman and Ken BeLieu went in the Oval Office. They turned around and came back and John had this big smile on his face and Ken looked like he’d been hit with a ton of bricks. And I said “What happened?” He said the president said that Clinton Anderson can go. We are going to have Blue Lake. And he did. And Clinton Anderson voted against the ABM treaty. But the President believed in this firmly. It was the first time that I guess, those of you who know congressional relations better than I do, in those days when a committee voted on something, that was it. The Senate Interior Committee had voted against return of Blue Lake. President looked at us and said, “Go up there and turn that around”. And we did, we overturned a Senate Committee which had never, ever happened before. And then it was a very interesting bipartisan coalition. Everybody says, “Oh, the President Nixon couldn’t work with Democrats”. The coalition was: Richard Nixon, Senator Fred Harris – Democrat from Oklahoma, his wife LaDonna Harris – a Comanche Indian from Oklahoma, and Ted Kennedy they were the oddest quartet I have ever seen, but they were extraordinarily effective. And when we signed the bill on December 15, 1970, again I was this young kid, it was my first signing ceremony. The President sat in the East Room and he sat at the table and the Cacique, who’s the old religious leader who must have been ninety six years old at that point, stood there next to the tribal secretary, a guy named Paul Bernau. And it was this ceremony, and the Cacique would say maybe ten words, and then Paul would translate for about ten minutes. Then he goes, and the President was sitting there I went, “Oh gosh, I’m going to be fired. I know this.” And he just sat there and he looked totally attentive and totally inspired and he signed the bill and we had lots of other pleasantries and then he said, “Walk with me.” And I thought, he never asked me to do that before. So I started walking down the collonade, and he said Jenelle,” he said, “I’m really late for my next appointment, I’m supposed to the at HUD and I have a thousand people waiting for me” and I went “I’m sorry.” He said “No, never be sorry.” He said “that was the most wonderful ceremony I have ever participated in”. He said “those people deserve to have the ability to celebrate and practice their religion and I am proud that our White House made that happen.” And I just was, I mean, it was overwhelming and there’s just an, there ‘s a humanism to Richard Nixon I think people don’t see and understand. But he would stand up for what he believed was right. I have a follow up to that because, while director of the National Park Service, any number of Native Americans have since been brought into the Ranger ranks. And Blue Lake was part of the United States Forest Service. Yes. The Park Service, thank you. I’m sorry. But, I’ve had any number, there was one individual that was a fifth generation Cherokee, a John Cook, who’s now mayor of Page, Arizona. That when I became President of the Foundation wrote me a note and said I want you to know I’m a Democrat but I think Richard Nixon did more for the Native American than any other president in the history of the country. He did. He also pioneered, aside from the women, by recruiting the Hispanics to high level positions in the government and he was very successful. I think it’ll be the FPA. The one that I most plainly remembered is this one though. He called me in one day and he said we need more women in – of Hispanic, we need more people of Hispanic heritage and we need more women of Hispanic heritage in this administration. There is an opening in a high level position at the Department of Treasury, the Treasury of the United States, I want you to find me a qualified woman. Yes, Sir! So we went out and we went, I got a couple of my recruiters together and we start looking for a qualified woman to be Treasurer of the United States. And, lo and behold, we found out that we had a woman named Romana Banuelos from California right near here. Romana Banuelos ran a big food company she had started. She built it up. Went big. It was maybe 10, 12 million revenue. It was a very successful business women, who had built this business. So we thought we’d really struck gold, and we had, actually and we went in, we recommended Romana Banuelos to president and he nominated her. This is a position that has to be confirmed. Well, after that great victory, Merline and I got in our car and we drove across the country to Illinois to my brother’s wedding. On the way there, unbeknownst to me, state troopers all over the states between Washington and Illinois are looking for me, and it was Bob Haldeman on the phone saying, “Did you realize that they just raided her plant and they’ve got all these illegal aliens?” Well, they were all democrats, we thought. But nevertheless, she was treasurer and she did a really good job. In fairness here, Bill Marumoto, who is no longer with us, was the minority recruiter and he was working on the Hispanic side. I got into it, but really I would credit Mo and Fred. We have Romana Banuelos in our oral history series and I have to say something also about minorities and the whole women effort. We really focused on minorities as well. Hispanic and African American and whatever else. And we were fairly successful on that, too, which I think it sort of escapes, escapes recognition. And One of the most prominent African-American was Bob Brown. Well, yeah. He was just elected into the Nixon center board. You know, you’re just sort of tying all that together, I mean what Fred did, and Barbara and all the recruiting and stuff. There was a real different feeling in the country then. Executives who are making a ton of money would leave and come and serve. That’s right. And come and serve. Oh, good point. Yeah. People, I mean, I’ll never forget the first week we were in the White House, we were setting up the White House staff . These people have to be paid something, you know. It’s not cheap to live in Washington, DC. And I was absolutely struck by how many top-level people like Bob Haldeman, Henry Kissinger, and these guys that are in the White House staff were making $28,000 a year. That was their salary. Now the most they ever made the whole time they were there was $42,000 a year. That was the high water mark. So you can imagine all of the people who came who made less than that. But they came to serve, and I think it was because the President really had put a culture together that suggested service to this country – this country being great. When you see as you walk in out here in the exhibits singing God Bless America. There was a genuine feeling that he created like that of service. We’ve lost some of that and the other thing that was in play there and why what he did to advance women created this climate in which a bunch of other things happened, like Title Nine; the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission got more power, and you could name a whole series of things. Government was a model then. A model that states wanted to follow and that the private sector wanted to emulate. Somehow, I give him credit, but somehow we’ve lost that in this country. Well, I think we can blame part of the confirmation process on that too. We were able to get a number of people who came into the cabinet and sub-cabinet that Fred recruited that were going to make 10 or 15 percent from the Government salaries what they were in private with law firms and companies and they took that sacrifice to come in and serve. They got confirmed and they served. Nowadays, the confirmation process is so difficult and ugly and if you’re an executive, lawyer or something like that coming in you get really hammered and it’s very expensive. You say no. You just say no. And you also, you can’t make a living when you leave. Right. Because everything is you can’t do it. Confirmation process, just a financial, I mean it’s thousands of dollars for some of these individuals just to do the paperwork. Right. I talked to somebody who took a senior economic job in the Bush Administration who is a prominent financier. He took the job eventually. He spent over a million dollars of legal fees getting all the papers in order to do everything he had to do in order to take that job. By the way, remember, we have very few turn downs, very few people we offered jobs to, take 10 percent or 15 percent of what they were making, very few people turned this down, I would bet that we, I’ll bet you that three out of four accepted when we made them an offer. Well, there was a different ethic. Given the tone that was in the country at the time, which was hostile. We were in a war, and we were having racial problems and crime rates and high inflation and to have those kinds of people not say no, but come and serve. It was really a patriotic thing to do and there was an honor to it. Now. We didn’t leave and turn around and immediately write a book either. No, that ethic has changed too. We’ve got about five more minutes and I’d like to take that five minutes and have each of you, in your own way. How should President Richard Nixon be remembered? Tod, I’ll start with you. Well, sure, we have a lot of work to do. Clearly, China and the SALT talks and the foreign side, I think, are going to be preeminent. I think legacies are things that, Presidential legacies are things the Presidents do that lasts for generations. And I was recently talking at this forum here with Bill Ruckelshaus and I think on the environmental side, Bill made the comment, he was the first director of EPA, made the comment that Richard Nixon’s environmental policy has touched every American and improved their lives forever, and that’s a very big deal. It’s very powerful, and I think when you combine the things he did on the minorities, for black colleges, and for senior citizens. His whole empathetic work on changing policies to work for those disadvantaged. I think that’s where he should get credit and we have a foundation of those who are to serve, need to work on that, because that’s getting put aside. It think now, 40 years after this, and the hysteria is down even though the country is more divided, right and left, than before. We have a chance to lower the tone and look at the substance. I think on the environment. He was innovative on health care. His healthcare bill was really sensational. His welfare bill was one where that had work incentives and didn’t penalize work and helped the working poor, set a national income floor. Got it through the House, but not getting it through the Senate. It later became law under Bill Clinton, with a Republican Congress, by the way. So his innovation, he set the mark that other Presidents and other administrations accomplished. But he did the thought process and he and his team put together some really innovative, far-reaching, long-lasting things that made this country better, on the domestic front. Well stated. I can’t really improve on that. But I’d like to see his vision in a number of arenas, both the domestic, and I mean the women thing is just piece of that, but the foreign policy piece also. The vision and then the implementation, the execution of actions that made the vision a reality. We haven’t seen quite the likes of that since, and I’d like to see all of that recognized. Plus, I think the empathetic side, which has come out here as we’ve been talking here. I think all of these things need to come to the fore. Larry. I think they’ve all said it very well. I guess from my standpoint, I think one thing we forget, this was a bipartisan President. He had a Democratic Congress practically the whole time he was here, yet he passed amazing amounts of legislation, got the country through a war and successfully concluded it and did a number of things on the foreign policy scale that will last for a lifetime. I thought one of the most interesting, sort of picking up on the theme of bipartisan that I heard, was when Bill Clinton was out here and actually gave one of the eulogies at the President’s funeral. He talked about, I think the quote was, I won’t get it exactly, but “It’s time that the American people realized the fullness of his contribution in all that he made.” Fullness of his life is what he basically said. As the rancor of of the 60’s, pro-Vietnam, anti-Vietnam, all this sort of stuff sort of goes by. And people begin to take a much more scholarly and objective look at his presidency and at his life. I think that you’re going to find him one of the truly extraordinary people that ever walked this earth. If I might insert just on what you said on Vietnam. As I mentioned earlier there were 550,000 troops at the time he took office. In May, 1972 there were 70,000. It’s a massive deescalation. All combat elements had ended. Richard Cohen from Washington Post wrote a column a few weeks ago where he talked about how Nixon massively deescalated and ended combat operations and did all these different things in Vietnam and were all the protesters outside talking about his magnificent peace efforts? No, they were still anti-war. But he made amazing progress in what we called then Vietnamization, which is basically what is happening in Iraq and at some point, will happen in Afghanistan. Bobby. Back on the domestic side, a progressive innovator who furthered the concept of a just society. Well stated. Good. Hard to add to all of that but let me try. He dealt with a Democratic Congress. He was one of the most intelligent visionary men and women we’ve ever had in office. But he dealt with a Democratic congress and he got all these things done. He wasn’t, what you would call a ‘hail fellow well met’ people person. He was a serious, serious guy. But yet, somehow or another, he was able to bring people of both parties, senators and congressmen both the parties together and forge consensus and get things done. It doesn’t just happen. You can’t just dictate when you’re in the Oval Office. You need to build a consensus and he was able to do it and he was a great model for, I think, present day Chief Executives could learn a lot from him. He did not grandstand. When you don’t grandstand, you can get things done. The present administration should maybe learn In the 1972 reelection after the, after this squeak through. After the very close election of ’68, please remember the ’72 election was one of the greatest landslides in presidential history. Real progress had been made and the American public noticed. We need to do that again. Ladies and gentlemen it’s one more notch in the Nixon legacy and if we can get this message out, maybe one day, he’ll be appreciated like we do. God Bless you and thank you panel.

3 Comments

  • Evan Parsons

    As a great President. If you look past Watergate Nixon done good! But most people can't…..Get the glitter out of your eyes and see Nixon for the great man he was!

  • Jamie Memphis

    You folks are so wrong because Nixon's own words and deeds are showing his evilness and how much of a crook he was.I am a person who has studied history and I always have.The thing is this and its a fact and that is his own records and tapes prove his record of crime and failures.Let me be clear Richard Nixon will always be remembered for Watergate and only Watergate because it was his idea to brake the law every chance he had and he only cared about himself even Barry Goldwater said that.Now are other presidents saints no far from it but Nixon was a serial crook and liar and his own actions and words prove it.So please for your own sake of not looking like a fool don't fall for the BullShit these people are spewing in this video.

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