Tuesday, January 23, 1973 - 11:13pm - 11:17pm
Richard Nixon, Henry Kissinger
White House Telephone

Just over an hour before this call, President Nixon had begun a televised speech from the Oval Office announcing the conclusion of a Peace Agreement for Vietnam.1

President Nixon: Hello?

Henry Kissinger: Mr. President?

President Nixon: I thought you'd be interested to know that my daughter, Julie [Nixon Eisenhower], really put her finger on it when she said that she watched the CBS thing and she said she had never seen Eric Sevareid, Marvin Kalb, and Dan Rather so sick that they turned--they were green, she said. [Unclear comment by Kissinger] Absolutely turned--she said they were--had--that they were--she said that they were moaning about it and saying it wasn't going to last. And she said they were utterly taken aback and sick. You mean, you'd think, you know, that even at this time, even those assholes would say, "Well, you know, maybe we were" . . . not that they were wrong, but maybe "it's good news." But no!

Kissinger: Oh, [unclear].

President Nixon: They told me the whole . . . . and [Ronald] Ziegler said he's never seen the press corps so discouraged.

Kissinger: Yeah, or to say, "We've got to hand it to the President; he did it."

President Nixon: Right.

Kissinger: And--

President Nixon: But, in fairness, [Charles] Colson tells me the other two networks were better, but . . . [chuckles]

Kissinger: Yeah, NBC was better.

President Nixon: Mm-hmm.

Kissinger: But still it's . . .

President Nixon: Don't get discouraged.

Kissinger: Oh, no.

President Nixon: I just want you to know--

Kissinger: Oh, well, I talked to--all the calls I'm getting are overwhelmingly favorable. In fact, I haven't got an unfavorable call. Well, Nelson [Rockefeller] called. He was almost beside himself.

President Nixon: Yeah, he always is. [laughs]

Kissinger: And Dick Kleindienst called. Marvin Kalb left a message of warm congratulations. He couldn't get himself to say it on television.

President Nixon: Well, the hell with him. I would never call him back. Never, never, never.

Kissinger: But it's just--

President Nixon: Well, we certainly bamboozled the goddamn Congress. That [Mike] Mansfield was speechless, for once.

Kissinger: All of them.

President Nixon: He didn't know what to do.

Kissinger: All of them.

President Nixon: Did you--didn't you feel that? And [Tip] O'Neill, who is an all-out dove and a vicious bastard, didn't know what the hell to say.

Kissinger: Well, he was very complimentary after you had left.

President Nixon: What'd he say?

Kissinger: Oh, he said, "What a magnificient achievement. Oh, I'm so delighted, so proud."

President Nixon: Really? [chuckles]

Kissinger: Oh, yeah.

President Nixon: Isn't that good? Well, you know, on your doing the Friday thing, and the more I think of it, the better I think of it, because you--when you've got a good case you can demolish the bastard. You can go down there, give a star performance. And I'd give one for the Senate and one for the House. I do both. I do them both.

Kissinger: Happy to do it.

President Nixon: And do it on Friday. And that's great. And, but I--

Kissinger: Also, it will answer that, you know, then they can't say, "I never meet with them," either.

President Nixon: Right. You can say, "You'll meet with them when it is a proper occasion on a briefing, but you cannot meet on confidential matters." Right?

Kissinger: Exactly.

President Nixon: And, you know, you'll be primed for it because you'll have plenty of workouts tomorrow. [laughs]

Kissinger: Exactly. Exactly right.

President Nixon: Well, I just wanted you not to get discouraged because of the CBS broadcast and so forth.

Kissinger: [Unclear] discouraged [unclear] Because Julie . . . I told you, I told Ziegler that, I said, "That's what you're going to expect." And all these other people, and they couldn't believe me. And now they're finally becoming Christians; they understand.

Kissinger: I think there's every reason to be encouraged, because the overwhelming reaction is ecstacy.

President Nixon: Well, I think from what--

Kissinger: I think people are very favorable.

President Nixon: Well, maybe.

Kissinger: It just kills the bloody liberals. It killed them already in October.

President Nixon: Yeah.

Kissinger: And they started pissing on the agreement.

President Nixon: Right.

Kissinger: Now, what kills them is after the bombing--this is after all three weeks after the bombing ended, Mr. President.2

President Nixon: Right.

Kissinger: And--

President Nixon: Right.

Kissinger: You've wrapped it all up.

President Nixon: Yeah, which none of them thought . . . And--

Kissinger: On terms that everyone of them thought were impossible.

President Nixon: Yeah. When we said--I laid down four conditions and all of them have been met.

You know, that speech was a real gem, wasn't it?

Kissinger: Oh, that was a beauty.

President Nixon: Know what I mean? It was simple.

Kissinger: Also, when you attacked the various alternatives that had been offered.

President Nixon: Oh, boy. When I said, you know, about peace for us and war for the others. And leave our POWs and . . . and also that--getting--gigging the press on [Lyndon] Johnson, vilification of Johnson--3

Kissinger: Right.

President Nixon: --and the Democrats, who is basically--I'm defending myself, too, you see.

Kissinger: Exactly.

President Nixon: [Laughs]

Kissinger: I thought it was a beautiful speech. Very strong.

President Nixon: Well, anyway, I just thought you'd be--

Kissinger: [Unclear], Mr. President. What you have accomplished runs counter to what the intellectual establishment of this country has been preaching for 30 years. And your success is almost more painful to them than [unclear].

President Nixon: Well, they've got to change though, goddamnit, Henry. The intellectual establishment is important to this country.

Kissinger: Yeah, but they don't want to change. And that--

President Nixon: Then let's build a new establishment.

Kissinger: That's what the duty is. That's--

President Nixon: All right. OK.

Kissinger: Right, Mr. President.

President Nixon: Have a good sleep.

Kissinger: Thank you.

  • 1. "Address to the Nation Announcing Conclusion of an Agreement on Ending the War and Restoring Peace in Vietnam," 23 January 1973, Public Papers of the President: Richard Nixon, 1973.
  • 2. Operation Linebacker II, sometimes known as the "Christmas Bombings," ended on 29 December 1972.
  • 3. During his speech, Nixon had referred to prisoners of war and to the death the previous day of former President Lyndon B. Johnson: "Now that we have achieved an honorable agreement, let us be proud that America did not settle for a peace that would have betrayed our allies, that would have abandoned our prisoners of war, or that would have ended the war for us but would have continued the war for the 50 million people of Indochina." "Just yesterday, a great American, who once occupied this office, died. In his life, President Johnson endured the vilification of those who sought to portray him as a man of war. But there was nothing he cared about more deeply than achieving a lasting peace in the world. I remember the last time I talked with him. It was just the day after New Year's. He spoke then of his concern with bringing peace, with making it the right kind of peace, and I was grateful that he once again expressed his support for my efforts to gain such a peace. No one would have welcomed this peace more than he. And I know .he would join me in asking-for those who died and for those who live--let us consecrate this moment by resolving together to make the peace we have achieved a peace that will last." "Address to the Nation Announcing Conclusion of an Agreement on Ending the War and Restoring Peace in Vietnam," 23 January 1973, Public Papers of the President: Richard Nixon, 1973.

Original tape courtesy of the Nixon Library. This transcript is a working draft. Please let us know if you find important errors.