Lovely stuff. A new transcript of a conversation between Henry Kissinger (the patron saint of gravel mixers) and Tricky Dick Nixon.
For years, the Presidential Recordings Program of the Miller Center of Public Affairs at the University of Virginia has been transcribing and analyzing the tape recordings Nixon secretly made in the White House. Even though it’s been 33 years since a disgraced Nixon left office, his tapes are still being processed by the National Archives, and the Miller Center has only recently gotten to the tape of this particular conversation. According to the newly created transcript of the meeting, both Nixon and Kissinger believed Reagan was not the brightest bulb in the GOP. Here are some key excerpts:
President Nixon: What’s your evaluation of Reagan after meeting him several times now.
Kissinger: Well, I think he’s a–actually I think he’s a pretty decent guy.
President Nixon: Oh, decent, no question, but his brains
Kissinger: Well, his brains, are negligible. I–
President Nixon: He’s really pretty shallow, Henry.
Kissinger: He’s shallow. He’s got no…he’s an actor. He–When he gets a line he does it very well. He said, “Hell, people are remembered not for what they do, but for what they say. Can’t you find a few good lines?” [Chuckles.] That’s really an actor’s approach to foreign policy–to substantive….
President Nixon: I’ve said a lot of good things, too, you know damn well.
Kissinger: Well, that too.
Later in the 24-minute-long discussion, the two discussed the possibility of Reagan running for president:
President Nixon: Can you think though, Henry, can you think, though, that Reagan with certain forces running in the direction could be sitting right here?
So much for Kissinger’s powers of prognostication. As they were finishing up–after discussing other matters–Nixon slammed Reagan again:
President Nixon: Back to Reagan though. It shows you how a man of limited mental capacity simply doesn’t know what the Christ is going on in the foreign area.