Latest Nixon Book- nothing new, but a disservice to history
John Farrell – a journalist not historian as the NY Times claims- is publishing a book about Richard Nixon. There is nothing new- except more innuendo and biased interpretation. Here are a few points to consider. He appears to be using notes from John Haldeman for much of his polemic. These are NOTES- not policy. This incorrect use of documents is a common error writers make. One example of how the author misuses documents would be using notes where Haldeman mentions a supposed comment to retreat on Civil Rights if elected. Richard Nixon did more for Civil Rights than any President since Lincoln. Using notes to draw conclusions is not always proper since they are not always a reflection of what actually happened. I base the following on the NY Times OPED from Mr. Farrell.
- Farrell takes a big leap from some notes by Haldeman and couples that with known information. The so-called ‘Chennault” affair is complex.
- President Thieu came out against any so-called “peace plan” as soon as he heard about the possibility. He would wait for the next administration. There was no serious plan or possibility of one. He was not stupid and knew he was about to be sold out by LBJ. Conrad Black got this right in his book.
- The author is pushing a dangerous myth. Remember- If only JFK had lived there would have been no Vietnam escalation? An equally dangerous myth is that LBJ would have ended the war. He left President Nixon 550k troops in Viet Nam in January of 1969.
- The author says he found other “gems.” See the snark and bias here? He notes some comment about the need to wiretap opponents. This is what everyone did- right or wrong.
- The author claims LBJ knew of interference by Nixon but did not disclose it for “other reasons.” What he failed to say was that the “other reasons” were illegal wiretaps and illegal use of the FBI by LBJ. This omission shows the author is not serious.
- At worst, President-Elect Nixon simply encouraged President Thieu to stand strong in his decision. It turns out to have been sound advice. As VP Humphrey and Chief Negotiator Winston Lord both pointed out- the deal we finally got in 1972 was one impossible to get in 1968.
- What concerns me the most about this book is the use of the notes by Haldeman to make wild accusations and spurious connections. Anything to take away the deserved credit from President Nixon for finally ending that war – sells – and feeds into a narrative the court historians and media have pushed for years.
- The notes the author uses are not new and I am yet to find anything new. I read them over a year ago.
What appears to be true is that Russia was working hard to influence the election by getting Humphrey elected.
Reading the notes that Mr. Farrell highlighted gives us no new insight. Historian Luke Nichter agreed on a Facebook posting.