Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Haldeman Agonistes

Sunday, April 16, 1972

Haven't had a chance to get down anything since Friday. Yesterday the P lay in repose in the East Room. Most of day was spent planning Monday's funeral with Mrs. Nixon, who's holding up well for the most part. Billy Graham will speak. Vic Gold and I prepared a speech for Agnew, about how rather than focusing on this tragedy we should be thankful for all this man has done for his country, and think about how to continue forward with the strides he's made in bridging divides and opening communications with the rest of the world. Thought is that this would be more appropriate than his pithies and pungents about the threat of radicalized youth. I've asked to accompany Johnny Cash on guitar, for performances of "Lead Me Gently Home" and "When I Take My Vacation In Heaven." Mariachi band will also perform, in keeping with P's wishes.

Last night Pat asked Jo and I to join her, Tricia, and Julia for dinner. Manolo and Fina ate with us as well. After a few bottles of '57 Lafite –Rothschild (the P's favorite), we began exchanging stories. Many tears but I think it was a great comfort. Spent this morning at Sunday services with Mrs. Nixon, the children, and K and E and Connally. I almost didn't keep it together. Super-major tragedy. Hard to believe that someone like Arthur Bremer, a dumb kid with a crooked tie and bad breath, can just blunder his way into ending the life of a great man and putting the course of our nation in jeopardy. Can't help but feel that we should have beefed up SS detail for trip to Ottawa. Trudeau was adamant that the RCMP was top notch, but the diary that they found proved the kid could barely spell. Walked right up to the P's car at 09:52 Friday, on Elgin near Parliament, and fired four shots from a .38. The police caught him in a blue Rambler, stuck in traffic. What a waste. E says that P once told him that no assassin in his right mind would kill him (because of Agnew), and I guess he was right. Colson says the real twist is that the kid was almost going to go for Wallace instead. He's wound up, saying before long there will be freaks turning over police cars in the streets. Worried that he's putting Hunt and Libby up to something risky.

Fact that incident happened on foreign soil makes full investigation tricky. Helms is going to be by-the-book. Wish Cushman was still installed. Hoping Patrick Gray knows someone who can help us grease the wheels. Higby looking into other options.

After services, E and I went for a game of tennis and went to see Godspell in hopes of calming down. E was convinced that Agnew will disassemble the team almost completely, and I had to agree that it seems possible. E clashed with Agnew even more than I did. Concern is that Agnew will reverse recent course with China; he's already scheduled a meeting with Chiang Kai-shek. K says I should make the case that Agnew will want a smooth transition, and despite whatever bad feelings he harbors toward me personally, it's best for the policies that there is some continuity.

Talks with Agnew tonight were been better than might have been, but signs of trouble remain. He's going to hold off on the Great Lakes Treaty that P was in Ottawa for, which is fine. Had to make Agnew understand on Saturday night that a VP replacement must be confirmed by Congress. Learned these ins and outs of the 25th Amendment all too well, from P's interest in replacing Agnew with Connally, and now can't help but wonder how things would be different had we taken that course of action. Pat Buchanan, I explained to Agnew, would be a long shot given his lack of administrative experience, especially with the Democrats running the House. Reagan would be a long shot, too. Suggested that he reach out to Rockefeller, who would appease the left, and in any event-I tried to say this without hitting a sore spot-he could probably leave the VP out of most decisions anyway. It's mostly just a strategic move for November. I know there's some strained history between the two of them, but convinced it would send the right message. He replied that maybe Bob Hope would want the VP spot. Couldn't tell if he was kidding. Hope to get word out to Rockefeller tomorrow.

SALT talks next month have been cancelled, which Henry is furious about but I think we need to look at the big picture and keep our influence and pick our battles. Butterfield noted that we should have put microphones in Agnew's OEB office, since we would have a better handle on his intentions now. In Oval Office, he'll remove all but two from the desk and retain the ones near the fireplace. Telephone monitoring will remain intact, as will the Camp David system. May as well keep tabs on him.

Expect there will be shakeups. Imagine George Shultz will be deep-sixed, since Agnew sided with Burns against Shultz and Moynahan, but Weinberger has some good history with Agnew. Connally has an outside chance for economic advisement. K will likely stay, for now, though Vietnam plans will step up. Agnew has said that the recent B-52 missions are just the kind of show of force we need, and has already talked to Laird about redoubling air and naval attacks on Haiphong and Hanoi. K and I would very much like to see Rumsfeld gone, though with Colson and Mitchell having Agnew's ear, who knows? Gold suggested there might be a place for his friend Dick Cheney. Intelligence appointments are going to be a hurdle. Agnew insistent on getting rid of Hoover, despite guaranteed Congressional blowback. Will try to stall this. He's also talked about getting rid of Sullivan, and Felt, who investigated Sinatra and other Nevada friends back in the late '50s. Agnew needs to take the long view and not do anything too rash.

I'll talk to Magruder about McGovern's surge and Wallace's possible third-party bid. Muskie may be better positioned now, and will have to turn attention back to him. We'll want to get Sinatra out front on the campaign trail, of course.

Noticed a tremendous amount of cottage cheese and pineapple still in the P's refrigerator. Overcome with loneliness.

Funeral tomorrow.


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