Newly-released tapes have Richard Nixon opining about abortion, Jews and women in the Republican Party.
Newly-released tapes of Richard Nixon won't do much to enhance Tricky Dick's image.
The much-maligned 37th President is recorded saying Jews have a "death wish," abortion is necessary in cases where the parents are of different races and expressing a willingness to decapitate South Vietnam's leader.
“There are times when an abortion is necessary," Nixon muses to aide Charles Colson. "I know that. When you have a black and a white, or a rape.”
Those comments, uttered 35 years before a president of mixed race parentage moved into the White House, came after the U.S. Supreme Court's landmark Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion.
The remarks were culled from more than 150 hours of taped recordings and 30,000 documents released by the Nixon Library on Tuesday. They offered an intimate look at one of the former presidents most trying times, as the Watergate scandal unfolded and the Vietnam War wound down.
While Nixon was brokering a peace deal in Vietnam, it became imperative that South Vietnam President Nguyen Van Thieu accept the cease fire treaty. When Thieu, worried the treaty would leave his government vulnerable to a communist takeover, balked, Nixon stopped a shipment of aid that South Vietnam desperately needed.
In a conversation with his National Security Adviser, Henry Kissinger, Nixon wondered if he was being too extreme, ultimately showing his desperation to get the deal done.
“I don’t know whether the threat goes too far or not," Nixon told Kissinger, "but I’d do any damn thing, that is, or to cut off his head if necessary.”
In call placed to George H.W.Bush, the Republican National Committee chairman at the time, Nixon told the future president to find more women to run for office.
“I noticed a couple of very attractive women, both of them Republicans, in the Legislature," Nixon said. "I want you to be sure to emphasize to our people, God, let’s look for some."
Nixon assured Bush that it wasn't because he was "for women" but he thought, "...maybe a woman might win someplace where a man might not," he said.
While Bush agreed to keep an eye out, Nixon added, “Boy, they were good looking, and bright.”
In yet another conversation, Nixon told the Rev. Billy Graham that the efforts of Jewish-American leaders to oppose evangelical Christians would backfire.
“What I really think is deep down in this country, there is a lot of anti-Semitism, and all this is going to do is stir it up,” Nixon said. “It may be they have a death wish. You know that’s been the problem with our Jewish friends for centuries.”