Blah, Blah, Blah

the Nixon edition of The Watergate Tapes

K. ...Then you are now in a position of obstructing justice.

P. Excuse me, if you'd explain that again. If you tell'em--if you tell'em--if you raise the money for the purpose of telling them not to talk.

K. After he's pleaded guilty...

P. And then you give 'em money?

K. Yes.


P. That's--I agree.

K. Yes--obstruction of justice.

P. Yeah. If the purpose of it is to get them not to talk. In other words, not to carry out what the judge said. I can see that.

K. Sure.

"I don't want to admit--dammit"--an entirely disillusioned Nixon adds the next day--"that nobody's so dumb to say that the--which they are, of course." And a day after that he trails off entirely:

These first four years are terribly important and so forth. I mean after all, you understand, that looking down the road, looking down the road, as far as--you say your dad was good at looking down the road?

And yet through it all, the president keeps his head, even when those around him, like John Ehrlichman with his offer to "sure as hell" give the Watergate defendants an "ironclad defense" ("What's wrong with prejudicing their rights?" H.R. Haldeman chimes in), are losing theirs, even when he himself explains that the thing to do is to "say, 'No, we are willing to cooperate,' and you've made a complete statement, but make it very incomplete."

"Just remember," Nixon says, "all-the trouble we're taking, we'll have a chance to get back one day." For this cool-headed thinker remembers other outcries over greater matters. "We heard that at the time, you know," the transcribers say he said on April 14, "when we did Cambodia. They said, you remember [unintelligible]."