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    Anecdotal Observations On History & Politics

    Entries in 1972 (5)


    Nixon Tape Animation: Kissinger Recounts Moscow Trip

    It was 40 years ago this week that embattled former President Richard Nixon agreed to turn over audio recordings of his White House conversations to Watergate investigators. But while the "Nixon Tapes" are in the public record, no historian has listened to and transcribed more of the almost 4,000 total hours than Texas A&M Professor and author Luke Nichter, who runs Now, he and best-selling author Douglas Brinkley have teamed up to write the "definitive" book on the tapes.
    In his research, Luke has found some gems that have been hiding in plain sight for years and he's shared one of Nixon's more light-hearted conversations with me as an exclusive for Hardball. Here's Richard Nixon with his secretary Rose Mary Woods speaking about Henry Kissinger's recent trip to the Soviet Union -- the subject? "Russian Hospitality":

    As seen on Hardball 10/21/13, with special thanks to Luke Nichter for bringing this audio clip and transcript to my attention.



    Nixon:       Where the hell do you think Kissinger was over the weekend when I was trying to call him?

    Woods:      Probably out with some babe.

    Kissinger:  That’s it—

    Nixon:       Well, I’d hope so. I hope so.

    Woods:      He probably was.

    Kissinger:  It wasn’t [unclear]. I’ll tell you one thing, Mr. President, it wasn’t through lack of offers.

    Nixon:       Is that right?

    Woods:      Oh, my word. Aren’t you modest, Henry—?

    Kissinger:  No. No, there it's got nothing to do with modesty. The head of their State Security, General [Sergei] Antonov, greeted me at the airport and said he had a whole bunch of girls, all 25-years and younger...

    Kissinger:  Then I said I want to take a swim. So, again, they said—they asked, “Do I want masseuses?”

    Nixon:       Masseuse? Oh, they use those for that purpose?

    Kissinger:  Yeah. Oh, God, and they said any hair color I wanted. But they did it—

    Nixon:       Jesus Christ! Oh!

    Kissinger:  —so revolting. You know—

    Nixon:       It takes all the fun out of it.


    "INSIDE THE EAGLETON AFFAIR" Documentary: When a VP Selection Went Terribly Wrong

    Before there was the controversial Sarah Palin pick in 2008, there was Thomas Eagleton, George McGovern’s ill-fated selection in 1972. The Eagleton affair, in fact, ultimately changed how vice-presidential running mates are now made.

    With political watchers on veepstakes alert for Mitt Romney’s eventual VP pick, below a mini-documentary on the Eagleton affair.

    A little backstory: When McGovern arrived at the Democratic convention in Miami during the summer of '72, his campaign priority was to fend off rival Hubert Humphrey's last-ditch attempt to win the nomination through an obscure rule change. Picking a running mate was relegated to the backburner. After officially gaining the nod, McGovern was left with only an hour and a half to choose a No. 2 -- and he hastily settled on Sen. Thomas Eagleton (D-MO), a man with whom McGovern had only spoken twice.

    "Vetting" the candidate was an afterthought, a decision that came to exemplify VP selection gone bad. 

    Watch my documentary for the full behind-the-scenes story on NBC's First Read Blog or below:



    Most Underrated Political Slogan: "They Can't Lick Our Dick"

    One of the more humorous, unofficial, historic campaign slogans was "They Can't Lick Our Dick," which was used on at least four different campaign buttons for Richard Nixon. Another classic was "Don't change Dicks in the midst of a screw, vote for Nixon in '72," pictured below:


    Edmund Muskie's Drug Addiction, According to Hunter Thompson

    Self-proclaimed "gonzo" journalist Hunter S. Thomson defined his brand as, "a style of reporting based on William Faulkner's idea that the best fiction is far more true than any kind of journalism..." Maybe that's what he had in mind when he invented a story about presidential candidate Ed Muskie on the campaign trail in 1972. In the case of Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail, Thompson's "loathing" was on full display when it came to Maine Senator Edmund Muksie, a lackluster candidate whom Thompson derided as "tired and confused" and at one point describing him as a "vicious 200-pound water rat".

    Under the headline "Big Ed Exposed as Ibogaine Addict," in the April chapter of the serialized work, Thompson claimed that Muskie was addicted to a hallucinogenic drug called ibogaine. The prank was intended in part to test the gullibility of his fellow members of the press, who apparently proved suseptible to running with the false story. In the work, HST colorfully described the effect of the drug on Muskie, "given the known effects of ibogaine... Muskie's brain was almost paralyzed by hallucinations... he looked out at the crowd and saw gila monsters instead of people". 

    Frank Mankiewicz, who was the campaign strategist for the Democratic Nominee George McGovern, later reported that Thompson's reportage was the "most accurate and least factual account of that campaign." See the below clip from Wayne Ewing's Breakfast With Hunter, in the Alex Gibney documentary Gonzo

    While the story was fiction, it hit the wires anyway. Thompson later claimed to be merely reporting a rumor, it just so happened that he created the rumor to begin with -- something that Faulkner might have been proud of.