Nixon, Dwight Chapin, Pat Buchanan discussed on The Dinesh D'Souza Podcast


Folks, I've been reading a really remarkable book. It's called the president's man, the memoirs of Nixon's trusted aid. And I'm delighted to welcome the man himself, Dwight Chapin. He was a personal aide and then deputy assistant to president Nixon. And he then went on to a very successful career in communications and strategic affairs, and this the president's man is evidently his first book. Dwight, welcome to the show. You have written a terrific book. I'm kind of sorry you haven't been writing books all along because you're obviously a very gifted writer and this book is kind of a window into the world. Well, your world, but also the world of Nixon, what? What gave you the idea to write this book now? Well, I wrote the book now for a couple of reasons. Principally the getting the history down, I had sat with it for such a long time. 50 years. And I knew the man in an extraordinary way, having been so close to him over a couple of decades. And I thought I owed it to history. And then more importantly, I thought that it was needed in order to bring some balance to the interpretation of the man himself. He was such a gifted person. He was such a great president. And most people know Nixon either for two things going to China or Watergate and the Watergate cloud over casts over everything that he accomplished. So I thought it was important because of the position that I was privileged to hold to clarify things. One of the striking observations you make about Nixon and this almost to me sets him apart from any president that I can think of in the modern era, is you say that he was shy. He was an introvert, and that is happiest position you describe it this way. You say, the president would work late into the night, reading briefing books, he loved this thinking time. If you put Nixon with a comfortable chair and Ottoman for his feet, you give him a yellow pad and a cup of hot coffee, he's like in heaven. And so Nixon in that sense preferred a world of isolation. He was an avid reader of history. And I think this it's hard for me to think of any recent president who would meet that definition or come close to it. Yes, but the nation. Let me say, I don't know that he preferred isolation. He had a way of thinking. He had a way of getting his creative juices flowing. I mean, you're an incredibly creative man yourself. You know that there are certain ways that you a certain way is that you get yourself positioned or into certain mental frame of mind and that creativity seems to expand. And with Nixon, I mean, he would sit with his pads and he would have his coffee and so forth. But it wasn't that he was isolated and it was that he was incubating. He was a strategist at heart. And he was incredibly knowledgeable. And so I look at it that way. You describe an interesting process. I remember seeing Pat Buchanan has a memoir in which he talks about Nixon, and he gives me the idea from that book. Buchanan does that Nixon didn't really understand the conservatives. In fact, a Buchanan quote Nixon saying something like, who are these conservatives? Tell me about them. You know, and you in your book give a different angle, you say that Buchanan sort of represented, you may say the hard right, but Nixon also had guys like Ray Price, Len garment, one of his attorneys, and law partners, Bill Safire, who was a speechwriter for Nixon later went to The New York Times, and you go that Nixon liked to have this kind of balancing act of a range of views. Talk a little bit about why Nixon cherished having competing points of view around him. Yes, this is part of his confidence factor. This is part of his how well he was anchored. He could draw views from any number of different places. I mean, he had pat moynihan as part of the staff. And then he has Pat Buchanan. I mean, you get across the ideological span, if you will, he was able to draw that in and use that to enhance his own thinking or understanding on issues. Pat Buchanan is one of my closest friends. And pat was extremely important in the whole mix and operation. And the president loved the views that he got from pat, but he knew right where pat was coming from and pat was on the conservative side of the ledger. But it was important to Nixon not to just rely on pat, not because pat was a conservative, but because he Nixon was incredibly pragmatic. And he liked drawing from these other men. I think when we look back at Nixon and we try to classify him ideologically using today's framework, it's a little bit hard to do because he was a Law & Order man. At the same time I would say domestically and socially, he was something of a liberal. He didn't hesitate to use government programs, for example, for what he saw as necessary purposes in the foreign policy domain he was anti communist to be sure, but he wasn't sort of one of those rollback guys. I remember a series of books that Nixon wrote even after the presidency where he described what he called hard headed detente. He wanted to figure out a tough minded way that we could get along with the Soviet Union, and my question is this in the end was Nixon wrong about the Soviet Union because the Soviet collapse occurred in a way, perhaps it shocked us all, but was nevertheless midwife not so much by the Nixon strategy, but by the Reagan strategy. I'm not sure on that. Let me just say that his view of foreign policy in the world world affairs and so this is an evolutionary thing. This is not static. It's changing. I was really struck by the fact that the reality that when Nixon went to China, 50 years ago, he was in this geopolitical exercise where he had Russia on one side and China on the other and he had them separate and he was working both of them in that case in particularly against the Vietnam trying to solve the Vietnam War. But we just finished the Olympics. Officially the America is not even there. You've got China and Russia close to each other and their leaders standing there and this is not, I don't believe what Nixon envisioned. Very interesting. Let's take a pause when we come back, I want to explore further the enigma that was.

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