What’s perhaps less imaginable is that anybody in the White House is plotting to burglarize the offices of the psychiatrists of the leakers, as Nixon did with Ellsberg. One of the most disturbing moments in Our Nixon is a conversation between the president and Ehrlichman after the Watergate burglary has been linked to the White House.
But I didn’t know anything about that, Nixon insists plaintively, to which Ehrlichman retorts: Yes you did. It seems an obvious lie, but in a later interview, Ehrlichman says Nixon may really have believed his own words: “He could persuade himself of anything.”
No kidding. Listen in amazement and disbelief as Nixon tries his hand as television critic, offering this description of a new show called All in the Family: “Two magnificent handsome guys and a stupid old fellow in it. They were glorifying homosexuality. …You know what happened to the Greeks. Homosexuality destroyed them. Aristotle was a homo, we all know that. So was Socrates.”
“But he never had the influence that television has,” Ehrlichman adds helpfully.
Not that the president’s men didn’t sometimes give him sound advice. In one scene, a home movie camera pans the Oval Office, lingering oddly on telephones and power cords. Overlaid on the soundtrack is an aide explaining to the president how the newly installed secret taping system will work.
“Mum’s the whole word,” says Nixon. “There may be a day where we have to have this.” Chips in Haldeman: “Just don’t tell anybody you’ve got it.”