tv John Farrell on President Nixons Resignation CSPAN August 9, 2014 9:20pm-10:21pm EDT
president nixon and watergate. mr. farrell is currently working on a biography of the 37th president titled "richard nixon: an american tragedy." this program is about one hour. >> 40 years ago, the white house was the scene. we will continue with your calls and comments on american history tv. our guest is john farrell who is coming out with a new book, "richard nixon: an american tragedy." thanks for being with us on american history tv. you wrote a piece for politico and said this dwarfed any other political scandal in american history. he tried to put the entire nixon presidency in context. how so? talking was sort of a point over the years that watergate was this third rate burglary, that everybody did it,
and it was not that big a deal. it was a big deal and lead to further big deals because in the aftermath of watergate, it had the rockefeller and church committee investigations that rattled theeeply u.s. government was with this abuse of power. watergate was much more than one burglary. that was the third burglary they pulled off. as repercussions, you had the president resigning. you had the vice president resigning two attorney general's resigning. 12 corporations and individuals pled guilty and maybe two dozen men went to jail. >> how significant was the w thatation of spiro agne led to the appointment of gerald ford? >> i think it was significant in itself. i think there is a good chance nixon would not have been impeached if he had agnew as insurance. it was no great payoff for the
democrats to get rid of nixon just to get agnew. nixon might have been better for them in the 1974 elections than agnew. agnew's troubles which had nothing to do with watergate were a major part of what happened to nixon. he always joked agnew was his impeachment insurance. >> the phones are open on american history tv. we are also getting your comments on our facebook page. this is one from gregory thayer who says takeaway watergate, and president nixon would have been considered one of america's best residents and probably its most
skillful foreign policy leader. >> if you takeaway watergate and he managed to get three second term without falling apart over vietnam, which was still a big question mark, the war was not settled. they would have had to go back for more bombing in 1975 to save south vietnam. put that issue aside and say nothing that happened in the second term, he would not have been on rushmore. but i think he would have been there with teddy wilson -- teddy roosevelt, woodrow wilson, in , because he took on this unbelievably difficult task of ending this war while trying to maintain american prestige and credit ability at a time when the country was as divided as the civil war. it is no president that andrew johnson and richard nixon's impeachments came because of these divisive wars. he still managed to put together
a structure for the multipolar world we live in today. opening china, allowing japan and germany to rebuild, as with the other cold war presidents. i still think that and given today's polarized politics, you have to look at his mystic record as well and say he cooperated with the democratic congress. in part, because he had to. in part, because he did not care and wanted to focus on foreign policy. significantle did work with the democratic congress on the environment, civil rights, on a number of other issues. teddy kennedy once said if he had taken richard nixon's health care plan which was similar to obamacare, it would have been the best deal he ever made. he held out for too much at the time and should have taken it. >> the tape, the supreme court
battle, the unanimous decision, and the house judiciary committee hearings we have been showing. there is this comment on our facebook page which is a looming question of this era. why did he not destroy the tapes? ed that question is chews on. part of it was he was sick with pneumonia in the hospital when the tapes were announced. attorneys went out to visit him at walter reed. the hard-nosed political types said to burn them. they had a way to get rid of them. and did noteraser have to have a bonfire on the white house lawn. other advisors said the law is plain. as soon as you know it is possible evidence in a criminal case, even though it has not been subpoenaed or asked for, you have an obligation to preserve them. you can be impeached if you destroy them.
nixon's reasoning went back and forth. part of the reason in the end wanted to save them. they were incredibly valuable. they bolstered what we were talking about, his record on foreign policy, his record as a leader. he could go back to them and use them for his memoirs to refute historical arguments in the future. >> as you point out in your only the politico, not resignation of richard nixon but the resignation of spiro agnew, two attorney generals were found guilty. they all spent time in jail. the president's personal lawyer and fundraiser found guilty, the director of the cia found guilty, the director of the fbi caught destroying evidence and resigned. the list goes on. >> and a special prosecutor fired. another when taking over. an attorney general resigning over the firing. saturday night massacre of 1973.
>> tell us about your book. what is your approach? >> it will be a one volume biography you can pick up if you don't know a lot about this man. it is going to be based on this wealth of information that has come out since stephen ambrose did the standard work, a three volume set in the 1990's. the final white house tape only came out last august. there will be revisions on that. as nixon's testimony before the grand jury that cannot be your before that. there is lots of new factor ---new stuff to factor into the story of richard nixon. that is what i will try to do. the biography is about a man. i think most written from the perspective of the polarization of the vietnam era, nixon as a sman, andn and stateme very little focus on this extraordinary man. >> it will focus on his early years as well as we look at richard nixon 40 years after his step down from the presidency.
we welcome our listeners on c-span radio. catherine is joining us from gardnerville, new york. go ahead. >> i was 10 years old when i watched president nixon resigned. , do you believe, having written a biography on this man,, that his abilities -- i'm getting insecurities we watching his speech and all of the coverage and things written about him. affected howthat people now look at the presidency and even his presidency 40 years later overall? his insecurities as a man? >> thank you for the call. >> nixon had a light side and a dark side. the dark side was very vicious. it was the anti-semitic. it was prejudiced in some ways. it was always at war with his better instincts.
itis somewhat reflected -- somewhat reflected what we found out about the u.s. government as a whole because nixon's resignation led to this great crisis of confidence. it led to the disclosures there had been assassination crews going after foreign leaders and the fbi had tapped martin luther king and other civil rights leaders, all way before richard nixon took office. these things built upon themselves. by the end of the 1970's, we were in a dismal state in america making about things. jimmy carter tried the kinder, gentler approach. "i will never lie to you, i will tell you the truth." reagan came in and sat it is -- said it is time to forget that and well on the good things. we bounced back. you can remember the late 1970's as an awful time thinking about it. the economy was in dismal shape. there were gas lines.
we are hearing -- were hearing all this horrible stuff about jfk's affairs. it was a dismal time. with the exception of bruce springsteen, very little good came out of the 1970's. >> is go back to this particular day. you had the resignation speech the night before, august 8. the president said goodbye to the staff room of the speech he delivered in the east room at 9:35 rated at 10:00 eastern time, he boarded army one, now marine one. at noon, what was air force one became an air force plane and gerald ford became the president of the united states, and richard nixon the former president. take us back to that day and those moments. >> i think the highlight of that morning was what we watched. that speech of nixon saying goodbye to the staff was remarkable in so many ways. it was supposed to be a low-key event. pat did not want it televised. nixon insisted it be televised.
i think he wanted to make one more argument. why he- people ask debated kennedy when he had nothing to win and everything to lose by giving stature to this senator in 1960. had this fuddy-duddy good government side to him as well that saw obligations that had to be met. he had been dwight eisenhower's vice president. he had watched one of america's great heroes up close for eight years. he thought in 1960 that the american people deserve a debate. he thought he could win it. he never would have gone in if you knew what would happen. there was this part of him that was a nice kid from whittier college who wanted to do the right thing. thatnk a little of that morning showed through. i am the president. this is what the president is required to do, as painful as it is. i need to talk to the people and staff and thank them. i need to do this gracefully.
we need to have this event on the south lawn. part of it was personal. if you go to the presidential museum at yorba linda, the helicopter is there. if you stand and watch the tourists and tour the inside of the helicopter, you have to go up those stairs. three out of four people when they get to the top turn around and do this because that moment is burned into our memory. >> we will go to gym in medford, massachusetts, with john farrell on c-span3 on american history tv. go ahead. very nice to talk to you. i was wondering, if nixon had won in 1960, i know this is a hypothetical question, but do you think because he would not have had eight years to build up more resentment or paranoia,
whatever you want to call it, would this have happened? watergate, the extent it was, would have happened. what do you think? >> it was a different time. the republican party was inerate, eisenhower party 1960. the democratic party was much more conservative. you did not have the two sides against each other. there were demons that came out in the 1950's in nixon's behavior and the 1960 campaign. he famously tried to run it himself. if he had trusted more to his he wasbout the tactics going to use, you probably could have done better. there's probably something to what you say. he thought he won the 1960 election. a lot of people thought he won the 1960 election and it was stolen by the democrats in illinois and texas and other states maybe. so that, people have told me who
knew him, that question over the edge because the greatest prize he won fair and square had been taken from him. at that point, all bets were off. the kennedys have done it to him. as he said famously on the tapes, they use any means and we are going to use any means. >> why did he run for governor in 1962? >> he ran because he was under pressure from the republican party to save california. he was thought to be the only one that could save the california governorship. openn to keep his options for 1964 were, although i don't think he relished the idea of a rematch. won, hed run and one -- probably would have been the nominee again. probably he was thinking about 1968 after kennedy left. >> i want to go through some of the key players. give us your impression.
judge johnson rica. >> he was a tough republican. republicans love him because he was known to throw the book at street crime defendants and other organized crime types. used those when he same tactics against the white-collar guys in the white house that they discovered maybe the american civil liberties union had it right. >> john oldman and bob holman? >> there was a very poignant one was his chief of staff and one was his chief counsel, in 1973 they resign because of their involvement in watergate. he had to take them to camp david and asked them to. very poignant moment that night where he called haldeman. he is torn up. he starts talking about them as brothers, you are my brothers. you can feel the pain in his voice.
all i can think of when i hear that tape is this is a guy who lost his dearly beloved younger and is to a disease admired golden boy of the brother, the older brother, trent longmore and tuberculosis -- to a longmore and tuberculosis -- long war and tuberculosis. >> his longtime campaign manager, john mitchell? >> he was a mystery man. never happened, never approved it. the general said, yes, you did. people like to say we still don't know who ordered the watergate burglary. it is because one of them is lying. my personal feeling is mitchell gave some sort of wink and ma
gruder went ahead. i don't think he would have done it by himself. >> rosemary wood? >> the window pops into my mind if we are playing word association is loyal. loyal all the way. >> this picture is so iconic from 1973. >> took the fall there, probably. >> that was the famous 18.5 minute gap when they finally lost the legal battle about the tapes. they began to listen to them, the lawyers. they found there was this long gap in the beginning of one of the tapes nixon talking with haldeman. rosemary wood explained it as the fact she had been answering the phone while trying to transcribe and reached with her foot to the pedal, that is where you see the great reach as she tried to re-create what might have happened. the technical expertise was the
tape had been deliberately erased four or five times, as al haig testified in court, it is much more likely was a sinister force rather than rosemary woods reaching for the telephone. >> our guest is john farrell as we look at on the resignation of richard nixon. go ahead on the phone. resignation the speech in 1974. ferrell, doto mr. you think richard nixon would have been in favor of the free trade agreement with china that clinton and the republicans signed in 1998? my personal opinion is he would not have been in favor of so much free trade with china that would take our manufacturing away. >> that is a good question.
the tapes are our best evidence for much of what we are going to talk about. the tapes show nixon did have worries about the rise of japan and europe and their competitive decision with u.s. manufacturing then when he was in office. he may have had some worries about that with china. however, in all of these cases where it was foreign policy versus domestic trade, his solution was to open trade to these different countries but use the power of the government to boost whatever sector was going to be impacted. one of the reasons he pushed so was for the shuttle program he saw europe and japan were starting to compete an airplane manufacturing and wanted to boostinglance it by the united states lead in other areas, military and space.
>> we are looking at scenes from richard nixon when he traveled to china in 1972. how significant of a foreign-policy decision was it for this president? >> i think it was huge. i don't think he could have a claim to greatness if he did not play this game. out which isw book a spectacular election of transcripts of the white house tapes. you can look through that and see nixon had this vision of the multipolar world in which china would balance russia and the united states would play the two off each other. the chinese were thinking the same thing, we can play the russians against the americans. and it is a safer world. kissinger had the vision of going back to the balance of power that kept europe safe from a big war. while he is doing that, as you read through these transcripts,
you see all this other stuff is going on. he has these big initiatives, secret negotiations on vietnam, people making secret trips to china. the russians are angry. nixon is bombing north vietnam before the russian summit not knowing whether or not the russians are going to cancel the summit. all these things are going on at the same time all the planning for watergate was going on. nixoneasy to say, absolve of not keeping a tighter rein on the boys at the committee to bigect because so much else stuff was going on when this little thing came in. he made the fatally flawed decision not to send them to the grand jury but to try to cover it up. >> leon is next, philadelphia. go ahead. >> i have a question for the author. given the partisan warfare in
washington, i trace it back to watergate. republicans were matted democrats and wanted to get even with the democrats for bringing down nixon. the hatred led to them trying to impeach bill clinton. i see a lot of that towards president obama. >> only to a slight extent. watergate was the final act of vietnam. all the polarization goes back past watergate to vietnam. that was the thing that tour us apart. that i think is still the thing that created this huge cultural divide that the two sides have chewed on for 40 years. there are times when i look at my kids and say, this is not going to end in this country until the vietnam generation goes to our rest homes and we are not here anymore poisoning the water. i would trace it past watergate. richard nixon was the last casualty. >> we are getting a lot of
tweets. this is from brad. 49 always amazed nixon won out of 50 states in 1972 and months later forced to resign. >> a fellow writes social history about the 1960's and 1970's. he begins his book called "nixon in 1964, 10ing years before he resigned, you had lyndon johnson with this huge landslide. later, you hadrs nixon with an identical landslide from the other side. it was a volatile time going back and forth in american politics. >> from sarasota, florida, harry hone. the po go ahead. >> i wonder if nixon was forced to resign by the republican party for watergate because of what he did at democratic
headquarters. if he was forced to do that. , it was thery end seventh, the congressional leaders on capitol hill came to the white house and sat down in the oval office with nixon. he said, how bad is it? they said it is over. we cannot win a trial of infringement -- impeachment. we cannot stop it in the senate -- we cannot stop it on the floor or win it in the senate. august, most all of official washington decided nixon had to resign. he was getting pressured from all sides. ben bradley told me one of his official sources was barry goldwater because he thought nixon had to go and was talking to "the washington post." >> this is from our facebook
page. nixon did one thing no other president did. he took full responsibility for his actions. that is not something leaders do today. did he take full responsibility and did he fully apologize before his staff? >> as with many things about richard nixon, who was a shifty character, it is hard to answer definitively. he makes the argument in his memoirs and i think there is some truth in it that part of the reason he left was as a patriot he could not put the country through further turmoil and the terrible fall of 1974, an impeachment trial in the senate. all of his foreign-policy goals would have been shattered. there were too many important things happening in the country that after two years of watergate he had to leave, and he recognize that. the other part is he did not have political support anymore. he lost it completely.
the third part is he was hoping if he left, he would not be tried for the crimes of the cover-up. indeed, he was pardoned. >> you wrote nixon thought his foreign policy would be part of his lasting legacy and that may diminish how people viewed watergate when he stepped down. wonderfulas this conversation between he and kissinger. i think he talks about it in that speech. i can't remember. kissinger says history will remember you as a great president. he says, that depends on who writes the history. books,out to write nine nine or 10 books, to redeem himself and make himself a foreign policy expert, to tell his side of the story. what is interesting in my wasarch, his first book written after the 1960 election before he ran for governor in 19 sick due to. there is a memo about that in
which john goodman is asking what he will do after he retires trade will you write books? x and said it was the worst experience of my life and i will never write another book. he ended up writing nine. his greatest penalty for watergate may have been writing those books. >> good morning on the phone. >> good morning from hawaii. >> how is the weather? >> we are doing all right. thank you. is, how important was the tapes in getting nixon resigning? how confident was his cabinet when he resigned? >> the short answer is nixon had a very competent cabinet. he brought spectacular talent to washington, supreme court justices, cabinet officials,
aides,. i could go through the list and i would leave somebody out. the first part of the question is if it had not been for the tapes, he would have stayed on. it was his word against john dean's. the country was not ready to take this momentous historical active impeachment just on the word of one white house lawyer who obviously had a self-serving interest in saying it was my boss who told me to do this. >> let's go to mark from bridgewater, massachusetts. are you with us? go ahead. >> i am grateful for the coverage you have had all weekend. i want to make a comment to the author. with hisat i disagreed commentary on nixon's farewell address. i thought it was rather weak and the remarks were fairly reveals -- verbose.
what i wanted to say is that when president kennedy was asked 1960, he election of nixon came into the election with no class. i would like to get your comments on that. >> thank you, mark. >> what was the first question? >> his remarks on august 9. >> what i loved about the farewell to the staff was it shows nixon finally reaching a point of self-awareness when he , we are in the arena but don't hate because if you hate, you destroy yourself. that tells me he got it at the end, after all of these years of lashing back. he recognize the flaw. i thought that is what made that a powerful moment rea.
kennedy had a lot of nerve to say that. ben bradley wrote a book called "conversations with kennedy" where he talked with kennedy bragging about on election night he got a phone call from someone saying with the good luck and help of your friends in chicago, we are going to carry illinois and you are going to be president. everybody laughed about it but the implication is we stole it for you. jack was chortling about that with his friend who was the editor of "the washington post" at the time who was going to bring down nixon. you may think of the kennedys as this great mythological family. i worked at "the boston globe" for many years. of hismany of them generation, ted kennedy, very well. but kennedy was not as good and nor nixon was as bad as history
would tell us. >> i want to go back to the address richard nixon gave to the american people. he liked delivering oval office addresses. he did 37 in his five and a half years in the white house. we don't normally see the red carpet unless you are a head of state coming. that was part of the sermon the. all of that?ted >> the staff orchestrated it with his approval. last 48 hours, he did it the way he wanted to do it. he could have just slunk out-of-town, but he felt an obligation to do it publicly however painfully it was. he wanted to make one last speech to the american people that morning. interesting that pat did not want that farewell to the staff to be televised. she thought that was a private moment. loyalistsking to his
and family members and they should not have the t.v. cameras. nixon, for whatever reason, decided to let the cameras in. we are looking at a picture from army one with the white house lining the lawn. >> there is a great james taylor song called "line them up." i remember nixon in 19 severe for. -- 1974. it talks about nixon's inclination to shake hands even at the final moments. that was his take on that. >> key west, florida, is our next caller. jenny on the phone. >> i wonder why more attention in thegiven to the staff 1968 election working behind the
scenes with vietnam and that supposedly he cost humphrey in 1960 election -- 1968 election. how and when was it discovered he had been doing this? was ahe author feel this treasonous act on nixon's part? >> lyndon johnson certainly thought so. lyndon johnson is on his own taping system saying nixon committed treason. 1968, the nixon campaign began to hear rumors there was going to be a bombing pause. i thought lbj had two reasons for it. one was he had the power to try to settle something because the russians wanted a deal cut before the hardliner nixon took office. the other reason was to help humphrey get elected.
if you go back through the oral histories of the lyndon johnson library, you will find all of johnson's aides believed there was the definite possibility this could lead to a deal and nixon was the main cause of shooting it down because he sent an envoy to the south vietnamese saying hang tough, you will a better deal if i am elected. it came out in the making of the president, 1968, by theodore white. it came out in various newspaper articles, almost at the time. it was there during nixon's term of office. he managed to dodge it at the time. there is a new book out that puts forth the proposition that sent toon nixon burglars on one of their first missions, to break into the brookings institution, was to
steal back papers that revealed his role in what was known as because helt affair was the suppose ago between between the nixon campaign and south vietnam. >> we want to thank cbs for allowing us to share with you their coverage from august 8 and august 9 of 1974. one of the most interesting things as you listen to walter cronkite, it was not definitive on august 8 that richard nixon was going to resign. all signs pointed to it. that was strong speculation. but they were hedging their bets. >> he was tricky dick. you never knew what he would do. in his memoirs, he said he made the decision early. if you go through different testimony in books like "the " and what julie and david told another author recently, nixon went back and forth in those hours.
he listened to counsel from his family. pat and julie said to hang in there. there is this wonderful moment in the videotapes released by the nixon library where he reads the letter, daddy, please go through the fire just a little longer. it was heart wrenching. there was still doubt until the end about what he would do. finally, word went out. i remember this from personal memory. word began to spread that morning or afternoon that it would be a goodbye speech. >> what was his relationship like with pat nixon? book, "dick and pat," paints a much more normal relationship than to be expected. when he left office, all this other stuff came out pretty was no governing of rumor.
most anything said about nixon was sad. many things were that it was a loveless marriage, that they were both alcoholics, that he had abused her. all of these things happened that sort of cast the relationship in a dismal manner. and yet as will conclusively shows, it was a relationship that had ups and downs, really bitter moments, but they were a team. they both were the same hardluck kids out of southern california who came together. she believed in his possibilities all along. wanted to go back to her meager beginnings. they were a team together. the marriage survived for another 20 years after watergate . it did not have to happen if there was not something to keep
them together. >> early pictures of the nixon daughters and pat and richard nixon. doug from chicago, go ahead. >> thanks for c-span. i enjoyed reading nixon's memoirs. c-span has done an excellent job showing thechicago nixon tragedy. david eisenhower on c-span2 portrayed his book he wrote recently, which i think is excellent, besides nixon's i amrs, john, your book definitely putting on the reading list as number three. >> i have not written it yet. [laughter] i am still working on it. >> ok. i am kind of an old hippie from the 1960's. we all had parties. i went to the university of
arizona. a friend from sanford comes to arizona. we had berkely guys come back. everybody was partying the night he resigned. >> thanks for the call. >> that is true. it happened to have been my rehearsal dinner. after the rehearsal dinner, a bunch of us went in the car and went driving through d.c. to see the floodlit white house and the crowds chanting outside. it was quite a moment in the washington area. >> you got married on august 10? >> i got married august 9, the morning of the actual resignation. >that is why i remember so much of what happened that final week. it helps me in re-creating the mood for the writing. interesting thing about the picture of julie and david is nixon had great admirers in the intelligence he --
intelligentsia. norman mailer has this famous when the thought that came to his mind was a guy with a daughter like that cannot be all bad. can't be bad. whittier -- >> through when his brother died of tuberculosis, and when he couldn't go to harvard because they had to pay for treatment, the pain he went through when
his mother left the family and went to arizona with harold and dick had to work with his two remaining brothers and his dad to keep the family establishment going. so they give you a different glimpse of this really self-made man. >> you spoke before about his relationship with clinton. he was also that kind of self-made man with a dark side. i think it's much easier for somebody like jack kennedy to rise and become president of the united states than it is for somebody like richard nixon, bill clinton because they always had those sort of nagging
reasons to doubt, feelings of insecurities when they look at the accomplished, smooth talking people from more prosperous roots of life. >> what's interesting in when he died, he had that emotional eulogie -- >> clinton's remarks were very interesting because he said let this be the day from which they judge richard nixon from nothing less than his whole career. looking back, it could have been a plea from clinton to republicans in congress who were even then plotting his own destruction. >> looking back, it could have been a plea from clinton to republicans in congress who were even then plotting his own destruction.
let's keep everything in perspective. i'm george mcgovern's texas coordinator and so let's let by gones be by gones. but it's good wisdom. these presidents when they feel that burden, they do develop ties with each other with the only other people on the planet who have actually had those responsibilities and that obligation. >> norman is on the phone from michigan. welcome to american history tv. >> thank you. i would like to ask mr. farrell if -- what he thinks of the way nixon is portrayed in the media. a good example would be oliver stone's movie and some of the things that he said about nixon or portrayed nixon and what the reality is of nixon's life.
it was obvious that stone has a huge liberal bias. i'm a liberal myself. but i thought it was way over the top. and also, what do you think of the right now claiming nixon and making him out to be a better president than he was while at the same time understating how bad watergate was. >> i think the right does understate how bad watergate was and the then they like to throw it up against president obama. i don't think that they've embraced nixon because when you talk to somebody who's a conservative, they always want to go back to the age of reagan. they never talk about going back to the age of nixon because nixon did so many moderately liberal things. went off the
gold standard. expanded social security. establish the environmental protection agency. so you don't hear the right really rushing to his defense and in part because it's a no-win proposition. it's hard to argue that nixon was driven from office unfairly. oliver stone's movie was, i thought, fascinating. in many ways it is sympathetic to nixon, it shows how his personality was formed and the hard knocks he took growing up. then you run into his theory that there was a clique of fascists who -- then gunned down jack kennedy. there's the psychedelic effects when nixon is making his acceptance speech and flashes of
the vietnam war. it loses you when it gets past the early biography. keep -- keye other players in this. mark felt, now known as deep throat. >> well, he decided the -- he was angry he was not named director. upset that the white house was putting pressure on the fbi. he decided the best way was to call up friends in the press that he knew. what is remarkable is that within months nixon and haldeman knew it was felter who was leaking. they identified him right away and said what's his angle? haldeman said he's angry because
he did not make him number one. mark felt, very interesting character. there's a great story about him. he supervised a separate set of break ins of antiwar radicals and he was put on trial and nixon was subpoenaed to testify and even though he was a prosecution witness, he testified in such a way that it was beneficial for felt and as the story goes when his conviction was overturned or he was found innocent, nixon sent him a bottle of champagne. >> john dean. >> very complex character. really a nobody until the spring of 1973 when he begins to realize that he's in deep trouble and that coverup is not going to hold together.
at one point he made a famous list of watergate. he drew a line in said here are the people with preknowledge of the break gin and below the line he had people who had post knowledge of the break in and participated in the cover up. there is legal exposure there. only person on both sides of the line was john dean because he participated participated with magruder and liddy in planning the break in and then he was approached by halderman about the cover up. he wasn't the only one on both sides. in thea lot to lose spring of 1973 and is it began to fall apart he told nixon,
look, he way have to go to jail. nixon couldn't face it. he told halderman and ehrlichman that he was going to talk to an attorney. i guess nixon could not bring himself to act because if he had acted, if he had gone to the famous hangout roof, there would have been so many other horrors that he would have had to reveal and he felt it best to tough it >> our guest is john farrell. we are reflecting on the resignation of richard nixon years ago on this date and of course gerald ford who was the first and only appointed vice president becoming the first and only appointed president. john farrell's book is coming out. >> either christmas or maybe around father's day.
>> louise is joining us. >> thanks for taking my call. i heard some of what this gentleman has been saying and i saw the person you had on prior to him and before that i think it was when i saw the clip that you showed of nixon's resignation speech. it reminded me, again, of what a fascinating and enigmatic, mysterious person that nixon was. it was suggested to me that he had a narcissistic quality. that comes to mind all right but that doesn't answer the question about his personality. complex, yes. but so was lyndon johnson and, yet, all of us felt we know lyndon johnson. the whole country had a sense
immediately of the kind of man lyndon johnson was. nixon, for example, in the resignation speech, he looked completely composed, completely unruffled, calm, collected. it was hard to realize that he was resigning. >> thanks for the call. >> it's a cliche but he's our most shakesperian of presidents and the second was lyndon johnson. >> you called him a square. >> he was. he walked on the beach in wing tips. bowled in a tie. he was part of the silent majority. he appealed to the silent majority of middle class, working class, people who go to work, raise their families, go to church.
that was the background he came from. tom wicker's biography of nixon is called "one of us" and he gets the quotes from one of nixon's first campaigns in 1946. richard nixon is one of us. and he was. for all of his values, all of his triumphs. and for his darker sides and darker deeds as well. he was a great reflection of america at that time. >> you can follow us on twitter and facebook. william is on the phone from new mexico from john farrell here in washington. good morning. >> good morning, hi. how much weight do you think the resignation of president nixon and president ford's narrow election loss had the gop move away from the
middle and i was also hoping you could expand on his initiatives such as title nine, clean water act. thank you. >> thank you, william. >> the domestic agenda, again, was -- in some cases, these were things that nixon initiated. he brought into his administration liberal thinkers as well as conservative thinkers. and they sort of went to war. but they did have a series of economic initiatives and social initiatives that they presented to congress. civil rights is one of the great moral tests of leadership in nixon's time. in practicing the southern strategy which was a political strategy that preyed on southern resentments, you give him a black mark. but when you actually watch what he did
in office, establishing affirmative action, citizens committees in states, and lobbying people to get de-segregation of the southern schools. >> i think there were something rotten in denmark. he got a $230,000 campaign contribution from a known mafia figure and i heard that the reason he broke into watergate three times because he was trying to get what the democrats had on the riboso campaign contribution. >> there are some things of truth in that but not a lot.
he was his close friend and in some ways bag man. howard hughes gave a $100,000 contribution that went to a safe deposit box that riboso kept in florida. if there was motivation involved in the break-in, it would have been that nixon had this obligation to howard hughes. he had dealings with howard hughes in 1950's. knew that he could be damaged by this association with use and so that to find out what larry o'brien, the chairman of the democratic party, new, that targetingey were watergate. watergate was one of a list of
targets they had. they were going to go on to george mcgovern's headquarters that night. they had broken into the psychiatrist's office of one person. most of the conspiracies try to bring it down to one thing, the cia, mafia, somebody bad. nixon wasn't responsible for his own downfall but he was. the first day he heard of the break in, he could have stopped the whole thing, put it out there. instead he decided to obstruct justice and that was what he was forced out of office for, not the break in itself. >> had he done there, would there not have been any watergate. had he come out in june of and said, yes, we were responsible and apologize? >> the reason he wouldn't do it is because he still had to win re-election. at that point he was riding high in the polls.
he knew that the negotiations with vietnam were coming to a successful peak. but he just didn't have it in him to take that chance and so the inclination was almost second nature for everybody in the white house, no, we're not going to let this out until after the election. >> bob, from little rock, arkansas last caller. >> thank you for taking my call. i think you have answered my question. i'm a -year-old guy and for all these years, what were the burglars looking for at the hotel? >> they were looking for political dirt. they wanted to know what the democratic finances were, where they were getting their money, who was helping them pay for their convention. there was another -- the flip side of that was what dirt do they have on us. why bug mcgovern's office, find out what their next press
conference is going to be about. infiltrate the campaign. these were all things to help nixon win the election and there are some best-selling, far-fetched conspiracy though theories out there but they sort of ignore the fact that the watergate break in was just one of many and all of them had the purpose of getting nixon re-elected in 1972. , what me conclude with was the relationship like between these two important figures, richard nixon and gerald ford? >> it went way, way back to the late they had served in the 1940's. house together, they were world war ii veterans, they were men of the common people who had struggled to make it up there. i interviewed president ford the first time i wrote about watergate was for a biography of
tip o'neil and he said nixon's biggest mistake was not using the advantage he had in to elect more republicans and possibly to elect gerald ford as speaker of the house. and he said if nixon had put more of his attention toward republicans in that congress, then in building up this huge eh electoral land slide -- but the -- but they would have been less aggressive on watergate. key thing about watergate was the tapes. without them, nixon he would have probably survived. host and one final personal have been am possible to survive. >> and one final personal moment you have been sharing about richard and pat nixon. when the helicopter departed the white house, what happened?
>> nixon is looking out as they're leaving and the only thing that breaks the silence is pat nixon saying it's so sad. >> john farrell, the book is "richard nixon an american tragedy." thank you for being here today. >> it was a pleasure. thank you. >> to join the conversation, like us on facebook at c-span history. weekend, we are featuring historic sites and local historians from cities across america. i these are highlights from c-span 2014 cities to or. .atch video from our stops