President Nixon in China with Premier Deng Xiaopeng in September 1982. (Richard Nixon Foundation)
Kasey Pipes is author of “After the Fall: The Remarkable Comeback of Richard Nixon.”
On August 9, 1974, Richard Nixon became the first and only President to resign.
A decade later, Nixon was back as a trusted advisor to presidents dispensing wisdom on campaign strategy, and shaping the course of national and world events.
Here with us to discuss this in studio is Kasey Pipes. He’s an author, speech writer and former advisor to President George W. Bush. He’s the Norris Fellow at the Eisenhower Institute at Gettysburg College, co-founder of the issues management firm Corley-Pipes, and partner at the public affairs firm High Water Strategies.
He’s author of a newly released book, “After the Fall: The Remarkable Comeback of Richard Nixon.”
Jonathan Movroydis: Thank you for listening to the “Nixon Now Podcast.” I’m Jonathan Movroydis. This is brought to you by the Nixon Foundation. We’re broadcasting from the Richard Nixon Presidential Library in Yorba Linda, California. You can follow us on Twitter at @nixonfoundation or at nixonfoundation.org.
On August 9, 1974 Richard Nixon became the first and only President of the United States to resign. A decade later, President Nixon was back as a trusted advisor to Presidents, dispensing wisdom on campaign strategy and shaping the course of national and world events.
Here with us to discuss this in studio is Kasey Pipes. He’s an author, speech writer, and former advisor to President George W. Bush. He’s currently the Norris Fellow at the Eisenhower Institute at Gettysburg College, co-founder of the issues management firm, Corley Pipes, and partner at the public affairs firm High Water Strategies. He’s the author of a newly released book, “After the Fall: The Remarkable Comeback of Richard Nixon.” Kasey Pipes, welcome.
Kasey Pipes: Jonathan, thanks for having me.
Jonathan Movroydis: Just to start off, why did you decide to write this book and what went into your research?
Kasey Pipes: So in everything I’ve done with my history books, I’ve always tried to find something that hasn’t been done before. My first book was a story of Eisenhower and civil rights which came out in time for the 50th anniversary of Little Rock. And no one had ever really looked at Eisenhower’s role in that before and actually how important a role he played in that.
And then with this book, I wanted to do really the last great untold story of the Nixon life which is his post-presidency, the period from August of 1974 until April of 1994 when he dies. These 20 years, there are pieces of it that have been covered. We have the Monica Crowley books, her memoir of her time at the end, “The Last Four Years with Nixon,” we have the Robert Sam Anson book, “Exile” which covers the first eight years.
But no one has ever told the whole 20 year story, and in addition to that, I was able to with the cooperation of the family get access to the post-presidential papers. So I was armed with not just a new topic but with new material and that was intriguing to me and I thought that this was a story that would be worth researching and be worth writing. And as I got into it, it was way more remarkable than I ever suspected.
Jonathan Movroydis: Who did you interview for the book?
Kasey Pipes: About 15 or so former Nixon associates beginning with Hugh Hewitt who’s now back at the Nixon Foundation, people who were around him and with him during this time period of from ’74 to ’94, people that would have seen him during major events of this period for example, Ken Khachigian was somebody that I interviewed who shed great new light I think on some of the background of the Frost/Nixon interviews I talk about in the book.
You know, there’s this mythology that’s been put forward by Frost and others for years about the supposed confession moment of the interviews. It actually was very well staged by Nixon, he knew the question was coming and he wanted to address it, I mean, they had 45 million people watching. He certainly wanted to speak on the issue but he wanted to say something that came short of admitting criminal-guilt and that’s exactly the answer that he gave.
So far from, you now, being tricked by Frost’s brilliant questions they were ready for the question and he gave a very heartfelt emotional answer and that came from an interview with Ken Khachigian. So there were a number of people like that that were helpful in the interviews.
But to be honest, the heart and soul of the book is the papers, the post-presidential papers where I was able to go and look in many cases for the first time at some of his writings privately: letters, diary entries, in some cases notes on conversations with people in Washington, notes on his conversations with three presidents. That was really what was fascinating to me and what kind of formed the backbone of the book.
Jonathan Movroydis: The first chapter of your book discusses Richard Nixon’s last day as President. We mentioned August 9, 1974 in the introduction, his farewell to the White House staff. Nixon talked in his speech about his upbringing, his father and his mother, what do you think this speech tells about the man as he’s about to leave office?
Kasey Pipes: It’s a remarkable speech. I mean it’s one that we still think about today in our political culture. We remember him talking about, you know, never being petty and it’s only a beginning always. But of course, the most remarkable line in the speech and the one I quote in the book is him saying that only those who have been in the deepest valley can ever appreciate how magnificent it is on top of the mountain.
This is the story of Nixon, this is his life story. It’s a story of peaks and valleys. It’s a story of tremendous losses and tremendous successes. And in August of 1974, he realizes he’s about to enter the biggest valley of all, I mean, the loss of his entire career, the loss of his presidency. But I don’t think even he fully appreciated just how deep that valley was gonna be.
I mean, he almost dies two months later in a hospital in Long Beach, he is financially broke, he has very little means with which to earn a living, he resigns from the Supreme Court Bar and the California bar. The New York bar won’t accept his resignation because they want to have the privilege of kicking him out which they do. So he can’t practice law and there’s no model for him.
I mean, this is one of the fascinating things about this book is when he leaves office in August of 1974, there are no ex-presidents around, Johnson has died in ’73, Truman died in ’72, Ike died in ’69. And even though he knew all of them personally very well, in the case of Eisenhower, their model of ex-presidency wasn’t gonna work for him, they all basically retired.
They would go write their memoirs, they would play golf, in the case of Eisenhower, they would go to the ranch in the case of Johnson, this was not gonna work for Nixon because he had to make money and he had to redeem himself in the eye of the public in some way.
And so he begins this long road back through the writing of his books, through the giving of his speeches, through his conversations with opinion leaders, and eventually through his conversations with three presidents, and he becomes indispensable as an advisor and a counselor in this role. And it’s unimaginable in August of 1974 that any of this could have been possible. And yet through his sheer resilience, he made it possible and that’s what makes the story so compelling.
Jonathan Movroydis: He first gets sick within three months of him leaving office, how does he get so ill? And how does he overcome this?
Kasey Pipes: It’s a recurrence of phlebitis which he had an attack of that even before he left office. Essentially, the walls of the artery close to the extent that blood flow is restricted, and if it’s not treated soon enough death can result. And his doctor, Dr. John Lungren in October of 1974 feels that they’re in a precarious situation. They rush him to the hospital, they do emergency surgery.
It’s a little touch and go, as I talk in the book. And some of this has been documented before me but I mean he was sort of in and out of consciousness for a time but he rallies, he comes through it.
And I think it’s an important turning point in this story because he sort of realizes at this moment that he’s all he has, I mean, it’s him and Pat and the kids, and a few loyal staffers. No one’s gonna do him any favors, no one is gonna throw him any bones, no one is gonna feel sorry for him. And if he just sits around and does nothing with his life he’s gonna die.
And he talks in later years with people like John Taylor, his chief of staff about the importance of staying active, the importance of writing because it keeps him sharp mentally and it staves off any sort of decline, any sort of mental decline. But I think this realization sets in in the fall of 1974 that if he’s going to be alive, if he’s going to be around, he’s gonna have to get active and he’s gonna have to do something.
And so we find a diary or entry not long thereafter in December of ’74 where he writes about what the road forward would look like, and he says that it would involve writing a book, maybe more giving speeches and maybe doing some television to put things into perspective is the phrase he uses.
And that really becomes the roadmap for the rest of his life. He’s always writing, he’s always speaking, and increasingly, he’s appearing in the media, which again, would have been unthinkable in August of ’74. But he becomes a regular on things like “Meet the Press” on C-SPAN and he’s giving speeches at the National Press Club on foreign policy.
He uses all of these tools to his advantage to build an ex-presidency. And as I say, it really creates the model for what ex-presidents follow today. If you think about George W. Bush, Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, what are they doing? They’re writing books. They’re trying to be influential with their centers. Bush even has a think tank which puts out policy proposals, very Nixonian in that regard. They’re doing speeches. This is the Nixon post-presidency, this is the Nixon style of an ex-president that they all follow, and it’s remarkable that in his case he created it but he created it out of necessity.
Jonathan Movroydis: Could you tell us a little bit part of this come back and some of the challenges that he had to overcome included the pardon, how did that all come about?
Kasey Pipes: You know, it’s a fascinating part of the story, it’s one of the pieces of the story that’s been fairly well documented well before me, but it’s an important part of this story because he had such ambivalent feelings about it. He certainly welcomed I would think the chance to be out from under legal danger but he hated the fact that it essentially required him sort of acknowledging wrongdoing.
And as I said later on with Frost, he’s much more comfortable, much more willing to talk publicly about the fact, as he said, that I wasn’t a very good butcher, to use Gladstone’s phrase. I didn’t get rid of people, I tried to help them out when they did these things, and the cover-up began and it snowballed. But in ’74, it’s very hard for him to put out a statement accepting the pardon and acknowledging how much he had, you know, let down the country.
So this is all going on while he has the health scare, this is all going on in the fall of ’74 when the financial realizations are hitting him, and his friends like Bebe Rebozo were coming to him and saying, “You’ve got to sell the Key Biscayne properties, you have no money.” I mean, it’s all…his world is crashing down on him.
And I think the pardon was essential not only for the country which I think is sort of accepted now as conventional wisdom that Ford did the right thing but it was essential for him. I mean, I don’t know that he could have endured years and years of courtrooms and trials and litigation. So it was a turning point for him.
And as I say that the darkest moments in this story are in the fall of ’74 as he’s just really floundering around trying to figure out his next steps. And I think after the pardon and then after the health scare, he can finally start to see a way forward and he finally starts to pursue it.
Jonathan Movroydis: One of the ways he did that was the writing of his memoirs. What makes that memoir so unique from other presidential memoirs?
Kasey Pipes: It’s just brilliantly written. I mean, you know, presidential memoirs almost without exception are awful as a genre. I mean, they’re terrible because it’s, you know, the person saying, I did everything right, look how great I was, you know, I solved all these problems.
You know, we think of Grant’s memoirs as being exceptional, of course he had Mark Twain helping him, that helps of course but they still stand. They still hold up today. Nixon is I think very good because it is somewhat honest. I mean, obviously people will say that the Watergate section was not as honest as his critics would want it to be.
But, you know, that’s a fascinating story as well because as I document in the book and it’s been covered before. When Diane Sawyer and Frank Gannon and others bring him, you know, they would go out and research each chapter and then bring him kind of their draft model of what that chapter would look like. When they bring it in to him, he says to them, “You know, this is the first time I’ve ever understood all of Watergate.”
I mean, it was so vast and there were so many moving parts to it that it was difficult for him to sort of, you know, put his hands around it. And it’s fascinating to see that moment in this story where he acknowledges he didn’t get it all, he didn’t understand it all and yet it destroyed him. And so I think the book holds up remarkably well today.
I mean, as I say, it’s one of the few that still sells. It’s one of the few that still reads well. And a lot of that again is just his story is so Shakespearean and it’s so dramatic with the triumphs and the tragedies that it can’t help but be entertaining when you pick it up and read it.
Jonathan Movroydis: One of the other hurdles or challenges or achievements you could even say was his performance on the Frost/Nixon interview you had mentioned earlier. Could you tell us a little bit about how he prepared for that, in the book you write that there was a plan for James Reston, Jr. and David Frost to ambush him with certain questions, could you tell us a little bit about that?
Kasey Pipes: Well, again, this goes back to the whole issue of not knowing everything that had happened in Watergate. It was simply not possible for him to know all the moving pieces. There were a lot of things in the court documents that he hadn’t seen. And Frost through his researchers was able to uncover some documents in the court files that literally no one but the lawyers had seen.
And so there is this moment where they’re trying to address his role in this and his guilt in this. And this leads to the conversation you and I were having earlier where Frost is really aggressively pursuing this line of question, trying to get him, trying to catch him, you know, it’s a gotcha moment.
And there’s a famous moment it’s in the movie, it’s in the play, if anybody’s ever seen those where, you know, Jack Brennan holds up a sign and it says, “Let him talk,” because Frost is so aggressive, he’s talking over him. Frost misreads it and thinks it says, let’s talk. So he pauses, and they take a break.
And he goes to talk to Brennan and Brennan says, “You know, you got to back off, you got to let him address this in his own way.” And in the meantime, that’s when Nixon goes back to his holding room and talks to Khachigian. And this is where they wordsmith this, and Khachigian says, you know, “He’s gonna ask you again?” and Nixon says, “You know, he wants me to grovel and say I’m guilty and I’m not gonna do it.”
And Khachigian says, “Well, what do you want to say?” And he says, “You know, I let people down. I know that. You know, it was my responsibility, I know that.” And they sort of wordsmithing and Khachigian says, “When you go back out there, this is what you should say.” And it is.
And so again, far from, you know, him being caught and not having an answer, it was actually, he was ready for it and it was almost a rehearsed answer that he gave. And interestingly, it’s an answer that he gives really for the rest of his life. Anytime he’s asked about Watergate, he sort of returns to this message point of essentially a moral obligation that he let people down, he let the country down, it was his fault but without admitting any criminal guilt. And I think that’s genuinely how he felt about it.
And in terms of, you know, did he feel remorse for it? I think he felt tremendous remorse for him. And he says to David Frost, “I impeached myself, you know, I gave up, this is the most consequence you can have is to give up the office itself.” So I think his remorse was real, it just, for some of his critics it doesn’t go far enough because they wanted him to say something he was never gonna say.
Jonathan Movroydis: When does Nixon start to make more public appearances?
Kasey Pipes: So about the time of the Frost interviews he appears in Hyden, Kentucky at a public center, a public facility that had been funded through a Nixon era program. And this is really the first kind of public speech where the press comes and can cover him. He does an event later in Mississippi which is also covered by the public. These are small steps where people are beginning to see him in public.
The first sort of major national event aside from the Frost interviews is the Hubert Humphrey Funeral. And I write in the book, it’s a fascinating story, these two former rivals had remained somewhat friendly over the years. And Humphrey was dying of cancer in late ’76 and he knew he was gonna die and wanted Nixon to come to the funeral. And he wanted Nixon to come to the funeral because he wanted the country to see him at the funeral. He wanted the country to see that Nixon had been invited by the family of his former rival in the 1968 race.
And that Nixon came. And as Humphrey said to his wife, no president should live in exile. That he thought that this had gone on long enough, Nixon had suffered enough and that Humphrey of all people could sort of extend some grace to Nixon and bring him back into the public light. And of course, Nixon, after getting the invitation hangs up and says to Colonel Brennan, “I don’t care what it takes, I’m going to that funeral, start working on the arrangements.”
So he does show up. He is seen at the funeral. It is national news. I think it’s the first time he was back at the Capital since Watergate, and that was a huge turning point. And then he goes to a state dinner for China with President Carter in ’79. And then of course in ’81, he attends at President Reagan’s request along with Presidents Carter and Ford, the Anwar Sadat Funeral. So he’s literally representing the head of state at a foreign dignitary’s funeral.
So by ’81, he has really made significant strides to reenter the public space. And then I think with the Reagan years advancing as they did and with Reagan and Nixon corresponding as much as they did, which I talk about in the book, I think more and more you see him doing speeches, you see him doing media appearances, Catherine Graham puts them on the cover of “Newsweek” in 1986 with a headline, “He’s Back.”
So it was a gradual process but it was a very deliberate process and he wanted to sort of make sure he was always cautious of, you know, are we moving too quickly for the public? He wanted to kind of bring the public along and not sort of offend people by coming out in the public before they were ready for him. And ironically, they were ready for him, you know what I mean?
As I mentioned, the Frost interviews, the first night had 45 million viewers. It’s the most watched political interview in history to this day. So people still wanted to hear from Nixon, and as the years go on and he begins weighing in more and more in foreign policy, he gets that chance and the public wants to hear from him.
Jonathan Movroydis: And he wrote more books, in 1980 he writes “The Real War.” Did this book influence the national conversation at all during the campaign of 1980?
Kasey Pipes: It certainly influenced Reagan. And it was a book that Reagan read. It was a book that Reagan carried with him at times on the campaign. And it’s interesting, you know, this is one of the fascinating things about Nixon is the fact that he could have such well-thought-out views of the world. But his mind was not ever closed, he was always growing, he was always evolving.
Nixon in many ways, I mean, here he is, the creator of detente in some ways, and here he is in the 1980s almost moving to the right on foreign policy, almost getting more conservative on foreign policy. I mean he sees the Soviets as a darker enemy in some ways than he had before, and this influences Reagan. I mean, of course it’s where Reagan already was but it confirms what Reagan believed which was, you know, that he had to be tough, he had to call them the evil empire, he had to pursue dramatic increases in military spending, he had to take a hard line with negotiating with them.
And it’s interesting, you know, we think of Reagan as sort of the conservative ideologue, we think of Nixon as the moderate detente president. When Reagan signs the 1987 INF Treaty, which essentially eliminates an entire class of nuclear weapons, Nixon, who up until this moment had been advising Reagan on the negotiations with Gorbachev publicly breaks with him.
He basically thinks he gave up too much in the negotiations that he went too far, which is again, it’s kind of ironic that, I mean, basically he was to the right of Reagan on a nuclear arms deal. So it’s a fascinating time period and I think his books, certainly that book affected policy in a very dramatic way.
Jonathan Movroydis: In July, 1986, Nixon meets Soviet Premiere Mikhail Gorbachev, what was this meeting about?
Kasey Pipes: I mean, it literally was just a chance for Gorbachev to size up Nixon and a chance for Nixon to size up Gorbachev. I mean, I think Gorbachev probably had a sense that Nixon still mattered certainly to this White House. Nixon wanted to see if in fact this was a different kind of Soviet leader. And in many ways, he came away convinced he was, you know, he didn’t use this phrase but he could have used it, it’s Margaret Thatcher threat phrase that this is the man we can do business with.
I think he saw that the same way and he thought that a negotiation was possible, that real progress could be made. Now he certainly wanted Reagan to negotiate from a position of strength. And one of the details that comes up during these negotiations of course is the strategic defense initiative. Gorbachev at one point is very concerned that Reagan’s plan to build a nuclear missile shield, he’s so concerned about it that he basically says, you have to drop that. And he says that at Reykjavík, this is where Reykjavík falls apart.
I mean, they basically have a deal and at the last minute Gorbachev says, “You know, this is contingent upon you getting rid of SDI.” And Reagan says, “No.” Nixon in some ways helps square this circle for Reagan because he suggests, why don’t you offer to share the technology with them? And that way you sort of take any kind of stigma off of it, you make it where it’s not harmful to him. He could build one too if it works.
And Nixon, by the way, doubts the technology will ever work but he thinks it’s brilliant leverage for negotiating, and by offering to share the technology with Gorbachev, you sort of, you know, take that argument away from him and you kind of force him back to the negotiating table. And it’s essentially what Reagan does.
So again, his role as an advisor and a counselor from behind the scenes was much more active than we’ve ever realized before and much more important than we’ve ever realized before. I mean, these are major contributions he’s making to the Reagan strategy. And the only irony is that when Reagan finally gets to a deal in 1987, Nixon thinks he gave up too much.
Jonathan Movroydis: And after Nixon breaks publicly with him, Reagan invites him to the White House for a meeting, what happened there?
Kasey Pipes: It’s a very awkward meeting, Nixon and Kissinger had written an op-ed basically denouncing the INF Treaty. And Nixon is summoned to the White House. He noted later that he knew it was not gonna be a pleasant meeting when Mrs. Reagan wasn’t there to greet him which she typically was.
It was a very frank conversation and they both expressed their disappointment, they both expressed their viewpoint and both thought that they were right and the other were wrong. And there was not really any sort of agreement. It was just kind of two friends agreeing to disagree.
Now, you know, it’s interesting in hindsight and I think I make this argument in the book, in many ways, Reagan was right. I mean, the INF Treaty probably was an important part of the Soviets coming to terms with the end of the cold war. And within a couple of years, the Berlin wall comes down and the Soviet Union is dissolved.
But it’s fascinating to see at the end of the time together them, you know, working together all these years that towards the end of the Reagan administration they did not see eye to eye. And in many ways that carries over into the Bush administration where Nixon, I mean, of the three presidents, he worked closely with Reagan, Bush, and Clinton, he was much closer to Reagan and Clinton than he was Bush. And I think some of that is a residual of things didn’t end the way Nixon would’ve liked them to with the Soviets at the end of the Reagan term.
Jonathan Movroydis: What did he think about Bush? I mean, Bush was his protégé, he’d been his man in China, he had been at the United Nations and head of the Republican Party, what was Nixon’s feeling about Bush especially on foreign policy?
Kasey Pipes: It’s fascinating. He has a long meeting with James Baker in November of ’88 not long after the election. He is a little skeptical of Baker. He worries about Baker’s secretary of state. He certainly appreciates Baker’s gifts. He certainly appreciates that he has Bush’s ear, that he’s a trusted advisor of Baker, although he makes the comment in a memo that it’s interesting that Baker made the point of telling me in this meeting how important he was to the president.
He’s like, you know, in my experience, if you’re really that important to the president, you don’t have to tell people, everybody knows it. So he sort of sensed something, you know, some insecurity there. But he really…two things kind of cause him to be disappointed in the Bush administration, one is obviously Iraq. I mean he originally thinks Bush is not strong enough, he’s not tough enough. He sort of bought into the public perception that Bush, you know, was too nice, he we wanted him to be a little harder, a little tougher.
And he thought the extra attempts at reaching a deal before, you know, the UN deadline and the air attack began, he just thought it was too much. They’d given Hussein enough chances and he’d said, no, you have his answer don’t keep asking him for one. But really the end of the cold war in Russia is really sort of where he just fundamentally saw the world differently I think than Bush did.
And again, this is an argument people will have for years. I mean, you know, there’s a book out about Bush’s handling of the end of the cold war when the world was new, which basically makes the argument that Bush pretty much made the right calls, that there was no guidebook for how to do this. This great empire was falling apart and there were all these nuclear missiles all around the region, now you’ve got these breakaway republics, you know, this could go sideways in a whole lot of different ways and Bush’s kind of thoughtful, cautious approach, kind of kept things from getting out of control.
I think Nixon would have liked to have seen Bush much more proactive in supporting the democratic movement, much more willing to support the breakaway republics, much more willing to support democratic activists inside of Russia. He thought it was too cautious. And again, I don’t know who’s right or wrong there, it’s a fascinating argument. It’s a fascinating part of the book to see this disagreement. But he definitely was displeased with some of the actions or the lack of actions he saw from the Bush administration.
Jonathan Movroydis: Another area was around that period of time in 1989 was the Tiananmen Square massacre, how do you think the Bush administration reacted to that?
Kasey Pipes: He actually was sympathetic. I mean, again, this is the person who opened the door to China. He didn’t want to see the policy tossed aside, although he certainly thought it was horrendous what had happened at Tiananmen Square. But Bush had a huge political crisis on his hand in Washington because Democrats and many Republicans even in Congress wanted to put sanctions in place or at least withdraw the most favored nation trade status for China, which the President didn’t want to do and Nixon didn’t want him to do.
So Nixon travels to China on his own and meets with Deng Xiaoping, and basically says in brutal language, “You know, one more episode like that and it will be the death.” He uses the word death, “Of our relationship.” So coming from the man who in 1972 had, you know, come down the tarmac and extended his hand and made this great historic gesture, that was pretty blunt language.
And upon his return, the Bush administration sent for him, he had not gone at their request but they heard he was there and they were curious how it went. And so he went to the White House and briefed them and said, “You know, this is what I told them, they’ve got to knock it off.” And I think that not only did it…it certainly didn’t harm, you can’t ever draw a straight line on these things but it certainly didn’t hurt for the Chinese to hear that coming from Nixon.
And there wasn’t another Tiananmen, you know, right after that. It was sort of an isolated episode after that. So in many ways he may well have helped kind of, you know, quell that crisis but that was an area where they actually…a story where they kind of worked together and had the same goals really but that was the exception and not the rule during the Bush years.
Jonathan Movroydis: In January, 1993, Bill Clinton is inaugurated President. He’s the first president to be inaugurated with a mandate, with a peace mandate, with a peace dividend, how did Nixon think Clinton should manage this? Did he have any idea about that?
Kasey Pipes: He initially was very skeptical of Clinton. He thought he ran a great campaign, he thought he was a brilliant campaigner but he didn’t really know if he was up to the job. It’s actually Bob Dole, was one of the people that brings them together and suggest to Clinton, even though Dole has intentions of running against Clinton, he suggested he called Nixon because he’s so good on foreign policy. And Clinton does so and he’s shocked at how much he enjoys the conversation and how much he learns from Nixon.
And so they begin to continue these conversations. And Clinton is much more I think in line with where Nixon wanted Bush to be in terms of the breakaway republics, in terms of the emerging democracy in the former Soviet Union. It’s interesting, one of the blurbs on the back of the book is from Clinton’s ambassador to Estonia, who was Larry Taylor.
And those people who were working with Clinton at the time tended to have a great respect for Nixon. Clinton, generally agreed, I mean, this is a guy that believes…he’s coming more from an idealistic view of human rights than a realism view as Nixon does, but because of that, he sort of believes in democracy and human rights.
And so he kind of wants to push, nudge Yeltsin along a little bit more than maybe Bush did. And so for the 18 months or so that they were talking, and not quite 18 months, but they were pretty much on the same page. And Nixon ended up being very impressed with Clinton. And of course we know that Clinton arrives in Yorba Linda in April, 1994, and delivers a magisterial address and his eulogy paying tribute to Nixon and saying that may the day of judging Nixon on only Watergate come to an end, just a remarkable speech and a remarkable moment.
Jonathan Movroydis: Final question, do you think President Nixon’s post-presidential legacy is unique from other presidents?
Kasey Pipes: I do. And I’ve said many times in promoting this book that there will always be a debate about whether he was a great president. I think there’s no debate, he was a great ex-president. And to use the 20 years he had left to rise from the ashes as he did and to become influential again, indispensable in many cases, in terms of his foreign policy advice is remarkable.
And the fact that other presidents today, more or less are following the Nixon model of an ex-president, I think he absolutely matters and I think that’s why this story needed to be told. It’s the last great untold Nixon story and here it is. And as I said it, when I got into it and was researching and writing it, he was even more remarkable than I thought when I started.
Jonathan Movroydis: Our guest today is Kasey Pipes, author of “After the Fall: The Remarkable Comeback of Richard Nixon.” Kasey Pipes, thank you so much for joining us.
Kasey Pipes: My pleasure. Thanks for having me.
Jonathan Movroydis: Please check back for future podcasts at nixonfoundation.org or your favorite podcast app. This is Jonathan Movroydis in Yorba Linda.