Nixon Tapes and Documents Opening June 23

Thursday 11 June, 2009 at 4:06 pm Ken 0

The Nixon Library and Museum homepage announces:

Nixon Library to release 154 hours of White House tapes from January and February 1973 and thousands of pages of documents on June 23.

This fills me with anticipation and dread. 

Anticipation, because I’m a guy who thought listening to Nixon tapes and reading Nixon documents was a great way to spend my free time when I was working as a reporter in the 1990s. Then starting in 2000 I got to do it full time as a Research Fellow with the Presidential Recordings Program of the Miller Center of Public Affairs of the University of Virginia (yes, 4 of the last 12 words were “of,” but everyone needs a namecheck). Tapes and docs, they make me merry. This merry:


Dread, because the last time the Nixon Library released tapes and documents, major news media organizations screwed up the most important part: Nixon’s exit strategy from Vietnam. Apparently, reporters still don’t know that Nixon pursued a “decent interval” strategy — one designed to postpone, not prevent, Communist military victory. 

Getting Nixon’s Vietnam exit right is crucial, since prominent politicians and policy makers cite it as a model for Iraq. If we leave Iraq the way we left Vietnam, a lot of Americans will die needlessly and we still won’t have an Iraqi government that can defend and govern itself. 

Fortunately, there’s a relatively painless way for reporters to get the essential background information

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