Presidents and the Presidency

Nixon, Kissinger, and Haldeman on John Kerry

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Participants: Richard Nixon, Henry Kissinger, Bob Haldeman                  
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In this Oval Office discussion, Nixon and his advisers discuss recent press coverage of the anti-war group, Vietnam Veterans Against the War. They were particularly impressed by the performance of John F. Kerry before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee the previous day.

Kerry's testimony had included sharp accusations of what he said were war crimes being committed on a daily basis by U.S. troops with full awareness of officers at all levels of command.

LBJ and Jacqueline Kennedy

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Participants: Lyndon Johnson, Jacqueline Kennedy                  
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Jackie KennedyThis call between JFK's widow, Jackie Kennedy, and LBJ, took place about 10 days after President Kennedy's assassination. At the end of the conversation, Johnson told the former First Lady that she still had a valuable role to play in American society, especially by giving him "strength" to conduct his affairs. Citing something he had "told my mama a long time ago," Johnson recounted the boost in morale that the women in his life had provided him over the years, especially his narrow 1948 Senate election. This call was the first recorded conversation between the two in LBJ's presidential recordings. 

Richard Nixon Reflects on Youth Today

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Participants: Richard Nixon, Bob Haldeman                  
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Richard and Pat Nixon at a press conferencePresident Nixon met with a group of student body presidents. Neither he nor his chief of staff, H.R. Haldeman, were impressed. None of the students, Nixon said, measured up favorably against his own time as student body president at Whittier College. 

An Exceptional Alliance: Johnson, Eisenhower, and the Vietnam War

President Johnson, like Kennedy before him, demonstrated impressive political savvy by including Eisenhower’s advice in determining policy. Johnson forged a strong bi-partisan relationship with his predecessor, appealing to Eisenhower both as a friend and a sage. Receptive to the Republican General’s counsel on foreign policy, Johnson often communicated with Eisenhower in person at the White House or over the telephone. While the two Presidents differed in war strategy, Johnson still sought Eisenhower’s opinions and benefited from the General’s reservoir of experience and wisdom. And with the Vietnam War becoming more and more difficult, Johnson could use all the good advice he could get.

John F. Kennedy on Politics and Public Service

FJKIn anticipation of someday writing his memoirs, John F. Kennedy periodically dictated notes on recent developments or on other issues he might one day want to include in the book. Although he had not yet won the presidency--"the ultimate source of action," as he called it--when he made this recording, probably in the fall 1960 during the height of the presidential campaign, Kennedy reflected on his political career up to that point and his philosophy of politics in national service. 

JFK's Memoir Dictation on the Assassination of Diem

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Participants: John Kennedy, John Kennedy Jr., Caroline Kennedy                  
Introduction:

In this recording, made on the evening of Monday, November 4, 1963, less than three weeks before he himself would eventually be assassinated, Kennedy reflected upon the tumultuous events that had transpired in Saigon over the previous weekend, the overthrow and murder of South Vietnamese President Ngo Dinh Diem and his brother Ngo Ding Nhu.

While Kennedy was recording, his young children, John John (aged 3) and Caroline (aged 6), joined their father for a few moments.

JFK Orders "One of Those Blue Pills"

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Date: 
Participants: John Kennedy, George Burkley                  
Introduction:

President Kennedy suffered from extraordinarily poor health throughout his life and was read the last rites by a Catholic priest twice before he had reached the age of 30. Among his many afflictions was Addison's disease, a potentially life-threatening condition. Later in life, he suffered from chronic back pain. The combination of illness and pain required significant doses of medication. In this telephone call, President Kennedy asks White House physician Admiral George Burkley to "send up a little extra medication."

A Rough Guide to Richard Nixon's Conspiracy Theories

Historians trying to explain the Watergate break-in usually point to an earlier break-in at the Beverly Hills office of a psychiatrist who had treated Daniel Ellsberg, the man who gave the New York Times the Top Secret Defense Department history of Vietnam that became known as the Pentagon Papers. Both break-ins had the same “masterminds,” former CIA agent E. Howard Hunt and former FBI agent G. Gordon Liddy. Both break-in crews included CIA assets recruited from Florida’s Cuban-American community. Both were carried out on Richard Nixon’s behalf, but it remains uncertain whether the President knew of plans for either crime before it was committed. The break-in at the psychiatrist’s helps explain Watergate, but what explains the break-in at the psychiatrist’s? Below is an attempt to explain the conspiracy theories that Richard Nixon formed—and acted on—in the aftermath of the Pentagon Papers’ publication.

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