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August 06, 2014

Nixon's Memos

Jeff Shesol: "Whatever else you might say about Richard Nixon--and you might say a lot--the man knew how to write a memo. He wrote an untold number in the twenty years between his resignation from the Presidency, forty years ago this week, and his death, on April 22, 1994, at the age of eighty-one. He wrote memos to his successors, to their White House aides, and to his designated political heirs--memos on foreign policy and press strategy, memos of political pre- and post-game analysis. He wrote serious-minded memos, ingratiating memos, and incendiary memos.... He wrote secret memos--as well as nominally secret memos he intended to be leaked, so that he could be caught, time and again, in the act of offering wise counsel to Presidents and all the Presidents' men."

"This, of course, was the point: not merely to influence events but to be seen as influencing them. The flurry of memoranda was part of Nixon's rolling campaign for redemption and, not least, relevance. The former will always elude Nixon, but he needn't have worried so much about the latter. "


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