antisemitism,  History

Nixon, Safire and the Jews

William Safire, the alliterative former speechwriter in the Nixon White House (he created the phrase “nattering nabobs of negativism” for the felonious Vice President Spiro Agnew to fling at the liberal media) who went on to write a column for The New York Times and books about language, died last week at 79.

But I was unaware that he had another distinction. He was one of only three non-disloyal Jews that Richard Nixon could name in a conversation with his felonious chief of staff H.R. “Bob” Haldeman in 1971.

President Nixon: All right. I want a look at any sensitive areas around where Jews are involved, Bob. See, the Jews are all through the government, and we have got to get in those areas. We’ve got to get a man in charge who is not Jewish to control the Jewish . . . do you understand?

Haldeman: I sure do.

President Nixon: The government is full of Jews.

Haldeman: I sure do.

President Nixon: Second, most Jews are disloyal. You know what I mean? You have a—you have a [White House Consultant Leonard] Garment and a [National Security Adviser Henry A.] Kissinger and, frankly, a [White House Speechwriter William L.] Safire, and, by God, they’re exceptions. But, Bob, generally speaking, you can’t trust the bastards. They turn on you. Correct? Am I wrong or right?

I can’t help wondering what Nixon meant by “frankly.”

Now at this point Haldeman could have redeemed himself as a human being by saying to Nixon, “You’re wrong, you antisemitic bastard.” Instead he said:

Sure, and their whole orientation is against this administration anyway or against you.

And yet two years later, Nixon– probably less out of concern for the world’s only Jewish state than for standing up to the Soviet Union– approved the arms shipments to Israel which helped it turn back an attack by Soviet-armed Arab states.

Funny old world.