One of my favorite times of the year is when more of the Nixon documents and tapes are released. Where there isn’t anything earthshattering, or history changing about the disclosures, the releases do provide deeper nuanced understanding of Richard Nixon and his administration.
We have all heard this type of stuff on the tapes, and read these types of documents before. Reasons for the Christmas bombing…that it shows RN toughness. Rants against the liberal Brookings Institute. Hatred against the press.
Although, I did learn something interesting in this latest batch. On yesterday’s Hardball with Chris Matthews, Rick Perlstein stated his possession of a very hot document (Haldeman Notes, June 23, 1971.) that stated that several months before RNs discussion of the Brookings Institute, RN wanted all of the files on the Bay of Pigs, Cuban Missile Crises and Rafael Trujillo’s assassination declassified. RN thought that this would discredit the Democrats to the point that they would never win another election.
Maybe this discussion, like so many others on the tapes and in the documents; was another example of a president venting today, to be forgotten tomorrow.
However, there is another perspective that I believe was missed. These comments about declassifying the Bay of Pigs documents place another discussion nearly two years later into a slightly different light.
Exactly one year later, on June 23, 1972, RN suggested to HR Haldeman that he call the FBI with the concern that a Watergate investigation would “open up the whole Bay of Pigs thing up again.” While many have said that RN was stating a national security issue, the document about declassification also sheds light on what RN believed the Bay of Pigs to be. Less about national security, and more about political blackmail…
Note: If Mr. Perlstein is lurking, I would appreciate his thoughts on this. I would really like to open this up for discussion with my esteemed fellow bloggers..
Video available on MSNBCs “Hardball” web site.