Tapes expose Nixon bigotry

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The Independent Online
IN A YEAR dominated by revelations of the intimate thoughts of President Bill Clinton, the bons mots of a former incumbent have resurfaced.

Previously censored sections of the White House tapes recorded 25 years ago by Richard Nixon have been played as part of a court case.

Nixon, who resigned in 1974 as he faced impeachment over the Watergate scandal, thought women "a pain in the neck", loathed his Cabinet and officials and held dim views of blacks, Mexicans and Italians.

The case concerns government release of the tapes, which the Nixon estate is resisting.

The president, in a conversation about the role of women in government, said he doubted they were "worth the effort."

As for black Americans, "you can usually settle for an incompetent, because there are just not enough competent ones, and so you put incompetents in and get along with them, because the symbolism is vitally important. You have to show you care."

On the subject of other minorities, he said: "That's the problem, finding a Mexican that is honest. And Italians have somewhat the same problem."

After receiving what he considered insufficient praise from his colleagues for a speech, he told Henry Kissinger: "Screw the Cabinet and the rest. No more sucking around. From now on, they come to me. I'm sick of the whole bunch. The others are a bunch of goddamned cowards. The staff, except for [HR] Haldeman and [John] Ehrlichman, screw them. "

He moved on to careful consideration of North Vietnam. "I'll turn right so goddamn hard it'll make your head spin," he told Dr Kissinger. "We'll bomb the bastards off the Earth."

He thought little better of the armed forces. "God damn it, the military, they're a bunch of greedy bastards," Nixon said. "They want more officers' clubs and more men to shine their shoes. The sons of bitches are not interested in this country."