Tricky Dick's Guide to Drinking and Toking

Tricky Dick's Guide to Drinking and Toking
Posted by FoM on April 15, 2002 at 09:18:36 PT
By Tom McNichol
In Newly Released Transcripts, Richard Nixon And Art Linkletter Struggle To Fathom The Differences Between Demon Rum And Dope.Much has been made of excerpts from the latest Nixon tapes released by the National Archives that illustrate the former president's already well-documented anti-Semitism ("Generally, you can't trust the bastards"), but the Trickster's comments on two of today's hot topics, the war on drugs and sexual misconduct among the Catholic clergy, have largely gone unnoticed. They are reminders of Richard Nixon's timeless appeal, and are as detached from reality now as they were at the time he spoke them. 
Drugs, and the people who love them, were frequent topics in the Oval Office around the end of Nixon's first term. Nixon, in fact, can rightfully be called the father of the war on drugs. On June 17, 1971, (coincidentally, a year to the day before the Watergate break-in), Nixon announced an "all-out offensive" on drug abuse, which the president termed "America's Public Enemy No. 1." He requested $155 million from Congress, and created the Special Action Office for Drug Abuse Prevention in the White House. In the months leading up to the announcement, Nixon solicited opinions from various drug "experts." One of them was daytime talk show host Art Linkletter, whose daughter, famously, had jumped out of a window, supposedly because of the influence of LSD. But like many people in Nixon's inner circle, Linkletter wasn't above bending the truth to fit his own purposes. When 20-year-old Diane Linkletter leaped to her death from the sixth floor of her West Hollywood, Calif., apartment on Oct. 4, 1969, her father immediately fingered acid as the culprit. "It isn't suicide because she wasn't herself," Linkletter told the media. "It was murder. She was murdered by the people who manufacture and sell LSD." Linkletter claimed that Diane had taken LSD the night before her death, and her panic over its effects led to the fatal plunge. But when an autopsy showed no trace of LSD in Diane's body, Linkletter's story changed: Diane had taken acid six months before her death and experienced a "flashback," which prompted her to jump out the window. No one in the mainstream media challenged Linkletter's improbable account, and the story of an acid-crazed Diane Linkletter jumping out a window because she thought she could fly became an established urban legend. In 1969, director John Waters released a memorable 15-minute film, "The Diane Linkletter Story," with Divine in the starring role. Timothy Leary took Linkletter to task in a 1979 television appearance, taunting him: "You got in the Nixon White House on the basis of your daughter's death. I think that's ghoulish." So when Linkletter strolled into the Oval Office shortly after noon on May 18, 1971, the stage was set for an historic meeting between a man who blamed drugs to cover up his own shortcomings as a parent and a president who would soon take covering up to new heights. The transcript reads like satire. It's not. Honest. The first topic was marijuana, a drug that Nixon, of course, had never taken. (What would be the point? He was already paranoid.) Nixon did know a thing or two about alcohol, a drug he increasingly abused throughout his presidency, culminating in the Lush Years of Watergate. With Linkletter, Nixon sought to draw a moral distinction between his drug of choice and "bad" drugs like marijuana: Art Linkletter: "There's a great difference between alcohol and marijuana." Richard Nixon: "What is it?" Linkletter: "The worst that you can have when you're in with other alcoholics is more to drink, so you'll throw up more and get sicker and be drunker." Nixon: "And that also is a great, great incentive, uh --" Linkletter: "But when you are with druggers, you can go from marijuana to, say, heroin. Big difference." Nixon: "I see." Linkletter: "If, if, if you're with a guy who suggests you have three more drinks than you should have, you're just going to get sicker. But if you're with a guy who you're already high and he suggests you try, this instead of this, you can go much further." According to the Linkletter Vomit Theory, alcohol abusers eventually throw up when they've had too much to drink, thus saving them from further harm, while druggers turn to the needle when pot isn't getting them high enough. Linkletter seems unaware that quite a few people who have had too much to drink don't vomit; they order another drink. And folks who smoke too much pot usually don't turn to heroin; most of them fall asleep on the couch with the TV on. But no matter. In the first minutes of the meeting, Nixon assumes the role of attentive pupil, eager to learn about the drug underworld from an expert. Linkletter has clearly done just enough research on marijuana to give Nixon the inside dope: Linkletter: "Now, let me tell you one thing about marijuana you should know, that the word marijuana should never be used until you say, what kind of marijuana." Nixon: "Oh." Linkletter: "There is every grade. Now they say legalize marijuana or it isn't bad. What marijuana isn't bad? The mild stuff we grow in Wisconsin, or the stuff from Morocco? The twigs and the leaves, or the resin? The kind of person who uses it, is he psychologically sound or unsound? All these things make a difference. So you can never say marijuana, you've got to say, marijuana Acapulco, or marijuana from Mexico, or marijuana from Illinois." Yep, one toke of that marijuana from Illinois and your drugger friend will be begging you not to jump out the window. Nixon shows little interest in getting into a stoner discussion about killer marijuana Acapulco bursting with twigs, leaves, and resin. Instead, he characteristically projects a perceived social ill -- drug abuse -- onto his political opponents. Nixon: "These, uh, more radical demonstrators that were here the last, oh, two weeks ago. They're all on drugs. Oh yeah, horrible, it's just a -- when I say all, virtually all. And uh, uh, just raising hell, and, uh ..." Linkletter: "That's right. And of course one of the reasons you can beat them is that so many of them are on drugs. The police are organized and did a great job ..." Nixon: "Yeah, I got a hold of (Attorney General John) Mitchell on, uh, Saturday night, I said, bust them. And don't hurt anybody, I said don't hurt anybody, I don't want anything like Chicago, but I says, arrest the whole damn lot, if they don't clear the streets. And they arrested them, and the police chief did a hell of a job." Despite the strong talk, Nixon continues to be nagged by an inner conflict: how can he rationalize condemning marijuana when he freely abuses alcohol? Nixon again steers Linkletter to comparing the two drugs, leading to this exchange: Linkletter: "Another big difference between marijuana and alcohol is that when people smoke marijuana, they smoke it to get high. In every case, when most people drink, they drink to be sociable. You don't see people --" Nixon: "That's right, that's right." Linkletter: "They sit down with a marijuana cigarette to get high --" Nixon: "A person does not drink to get drunk." Linkletter: "That's right." Nixon: "A person drinks to have fun." Linkletter: "I'd say smoke marijuana, you smoke marijuana to get high." Nixon: "Smoke marijuana, er, uh, you want to get a charge of some sort, and float, and this, that and the other thing." So according to Nixon, people drink alcohol not to get drunk, but to be sociable and have fun. By contrast, druggers smoke marijuana to get a charge and float and this, that and the other thing. Well, that explains it. A final exchange between Nixon and Linkletter takes the big picture view: Nixon: "And your drug societies, uh, are, are, inevitably come apart. They --" Linkletter: "They lose motivation." Nixon: "-- mind" Linkletter: "No discipline." Nixon: "Yeah." Linkletter: "You know I did a show --" Nixon: "At least with liquor, I don't lose motivation." Nixon's final comment is perhaps more revealing than he intended. At least with liquor, I don't lose motivation ... although it sometimes makes me talk aloud to paintings late at night in the White House. Just five days before Nixon's drug summit with Linkletter, the president had wrestled with another topic ripped from today's headlines: sexual misconduct by the Catholic clergy. Speaking to domestic affairs advisor John Ehrlichman, Nixon viewed the issue through the long lens of history: Nixon: "You know what happened to the popes? It's all right that, po-po-Popes were laying the nuns, that's been going on for years, centuries, but, when the popes, when the Catholic Church went to hell, in, I don't know, three or four centuries ago, it was homosexual, and it had to be cleaned out." Three or four centuries ago was, at the time Nixon was speaking, 1571-1671. It's unclear what led Nixon to date the Catholic Church's downfall to this period. Perhaps he was referring to the Thirty Years War (1618-48), an inconclusive battle between Catholics and Protestants that left Germany ruined and much of Europe exhausted. Or maybe Nixon had in mind the Peace of Westphalia in 1648, which upheld the division of Catholic and Protestant states that had been agreed upon at the Peace of Augsburg in 1555. Or maybe the guy was just drunk. At any rate, Nixon the strategist thought the Catholic Church was right to root out homosexuality in the clergy, while continuing to look the other way at the popes laying the nuns. For Nixon, the lesson of history is clear: homosexuality, like drug abuse, has no place in a robust culture. Nixon: "Let's look at the strong societies. The Russians. Goddamn it, they root them out, they don't let them around at all. I don't know what they do with them ... You know what happened to the Greeks. Homosexuality destroyed them. Sure, Aristotle was a homo. We all know that. So was Socrates." Ehrlichman: "But he never had the influence television had." Socrates not as influential as television! Say it ain't so! Regrettably, Nixon dropped the topic of the Catholic clergy, and moved onto more mundane matters of state. It leaves us to wonder, 31 years later, how Nixon might view the sexual abuse scandal currently rocking the church. I'm guessing something like: Nixon: "The Po-po-Popes laying the nuns is one thing, but the church has to root out the goddamn homos. I'm serious. You've got the priests feeling up the altar boys and this, that and the other thing. Socrates did it, we all know that. But the church has to bust these priests, don't hurt them, but arrest the whole damn lot of them before everything goes to hell. "Christ, somebody get me a drink." About the writer:Tom McNichol is a San Francisco writer whose work has appeared in the New York Times Magazine, the Washington Post, and on public radio's "Marketplace" and "All Things Considered." He is a contributing editor for Wired magazine. Source: Salon (US Web)Author: Tom McNicholPublished: April 15, 2002Copyright: 2002 SalonWebsite: salon salonmagazine.comRelated Articles:It's Time To Turn Tables On War On Drugs Against Marijuana is Crackpot - Murdock Marijuana Nixon Tapes Show Why US Outlawed Pot 
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Comment #12 posted by Nuevo Mexican on April 15, 2002 at 18:54:18 PT
was a crook! Responsible for the destruction of my teenagehood through the brainwashing of my parents, and for the destruction of millions of peoples' lives ever since, in the name of the war on drugs! These new tapes are evidence in court that could pay reparations to those millions affected by his lack of knowlegde, and his racist prejudice. A Class-action lawsuit is warranted (the Nixon estate is worth millions), someone run with the ball! The attention is would demand would in and of itself end the war on drugs! The tide is turning, and after Venezuela, America could be next, if not Columbia, Peru, and Palestine!
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Comment #11 posted by Robbie on April 15, 2002 at 17:13:04 PT:
If you're going to San Francisco (reprise)
If you're going to the NORML conference, and you can get away from around 11 to 1 on Saturday, join us at the April 20th March for Peace gather from 10am at Dolores Park.If you can't make it, we'll make sure you hear us! :-)
IA Center front page
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Comment #10 posted by dddd on April 15, 2002 at 14:07:51 PT
..EJ said;"It's great fun making fun of Nixon, but now let's try to ponder the people who voted for him.
...The people who voted for Nixon,were part of the same hardcore Republican factions,,that went on to cheer about Reagan,,and eventually installed dubya into office......
..I'll never forget,,back when Nixon finally got busted for being too stupid to hide what a crooked desperado lyin' bogus crook he was,,,I was over visiting my Grandma......."Grandma Snuffbucket",,,she gleefully accepted this title ,,and was proud of it...Grandma Snuffbucket didnt mess around about being a Republican...she could always appreciate a good joke,,and I got along with her quite well,,until this particular day,,It was the day after Nixon had gone on TV,,saying;"I am not a crook",,,,anyway ,,I made some careless joke about Nixon,, and Grandma Snuffbucket wigged out!! ....I tried to reason with her,,, and remind her of what Nixon had done,,, .. She transformed into an ugly redfaced monster grandma,I could tell her blood pressure was skyrocketing, ,and she got really,Really mad at me,,and she was yelling at me,,,and I just backed off,and didnt say a word,as she lectured me,,sayin' stuff like,;"Nixon was a good man!",,,"He is not bad!",, I had no idea how hardcore crazed out with Republican zealotry Grandma Snuffbucket was.,,after realizing that she was so upset,,I just sat there,and let her ramble on,,uninterupted for about five minutes,,I just watched her,,,I know I had a smug look on my face,, but I wasn't purposely trying to make her mad,,,,,,,then,,,she finally stopped her tirade,,and I didnt say anything,,,,a moment of silence,,,,me and Granny are both staring each other down,,,she's waiting for me to respond. ....I torture her by not saying anything,,,,,, She cant hack it,,,she says,;"You are SMUG dddd!!!,, ,YOU ARE SMUG!!!!" ., ,I tried to tell her,," I didnt mean to be smug?", ,,..... ...I'll never forget Grandma Snuffbucket,,she passed away long before Reagan,,but she was a typical Hardcore Republican.......................Republicans will vote Republican no matter who is on the ballot,,it's kinda like blind allegiance....,,,,and now it's a false dichotomy charade of the Uncle Sam Corporation,,where Democrats are now pretending to try and maintain an appearance of opposition, ,,dont be fooled,,,if you call yourself a "Democrat",,you are an idiot who is faked out into thinking you're not a Republican!.....I pity da foo',,,who thinks they know what the real thing is.... 
..If you think of yourself as a Republican,or a Democrat,, then I think you should slap yourself around a bit! ...WAKE UP!!,,,Be American!!. .. Think about Freedom....!...and of course,,it's April 15th,,,remember this,,my favorite saying...;"No Taxation Without Representation!"....Imagine if I won the lottery,,and I had enough millions to produce a commercial,,,and pay for air time.. All the commercial has,,is a close-up of Willy Nelson,,,and he says;"No taxation without representation".... Does anyone think that they would air it?, ,,Could they get away with l;abelling it 'unpatriotic'......???......All Americans are equal,,but some Americans are more equal than others..... ... ... ... . ... . dddd
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Comment #9 posted by FoM on April 15, 2002 at 13:39:12 PT
It isn't what it was but the spirit of the 60s should still be able to be found. At least I hope so. 
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Comment #8 posted by Ethan Russo MD on April 15, 2002 at 13:31:41 PT:
Thanks, FoM
That was very sweet.I saw Scott McKenzie about 1972, and he was wonderful. However, everybody was yelling for him to sing "that song," and he honestly could not. His idealism had suffered so badly by world events that he could not sing of a lost world of idealism.How do you think he would feel today?
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Comment #7 posted by FoM on April 15, 2002 at 13:28:30 PT
If You're Going To San Francisco
Dr. Russo and anyone that's is going to the NORML Conference I made a little card for you all! Have a great time!
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Comment #6 posted by E_Johnson on April 15, 2002 at 13:11:23 PT
Nixon was looking for approval for his drinking!
Nixon: "At least with liquor, I don't lose motivation." 
No, people do not lose motivation with alcohol, but wouldn't we all be better if they did? Imagine a world where there isn't a drunk in every bar who believes he can kick the bouncer's ass if he just gives it a good hard try.Aside from the humor, Nixon seems to have been worried about his own alcohol consumption and was using this conversation about pot to help him deny that he had a drinking problem.The War on Pot is such a proxy war, isn't it? Nixon was searching for reasons to escalate marijuana prohibition because it fit into all the cultural wars he wanted to fight, suuch as his wars against antiwar protesters, Jews, intellectuals, history, knowledge, homos, Catholics, that sort of thing. But marijuana prohibition apparently also fit into his war against recognizing his own problems with alcohol. I never appreciated that before. This is actually very illuminating in a personal emotional way.
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Comment #5 posted by Ethan Russo MD on April 15, 2002 at 12:50:39 PT:
I loved that movie! My favorite excerpt from the Nixon tapes related to the War on Drugs is the one where he accuses all the marijuana legalizers as being Jewish psychiatrist bastards. I might cop to 2 out of 3, but I'm no psychiatrist!
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Comment #4 posted by E_Johnson on April 15, 2002 at 12:36:53 PT
Hooray for Kirsten Dunst and Dan Hedaya
Dick is exactly the movie Nixon deserved!I urge everyone who hasn't seen it already to get the video.
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Comment #3 posted by E_Johnson on April 15, 2002 at 12:33:55 PT
And nonetheless he got elected
It's great fun making fun of Nixon, but now let's try to ponder the people who voted for him.
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Comment #2 posted by kaptinemo on April 15, 2002 at 10:05:33 PT:
I am amazed. And that's pretty hard to do, nowadays.I thought that the Anslinger testimony to Congress had been the nadir of intelligent policy making in the US...until I read this. I find it absolutely stunning that Nixon actually taped this insane drivel for all the world to hear. That prideful ignorance is compounded with stupidty and viciousness...and made into national policy.You know what's really funny? Right after Nixon was forced out, the Republicans fired back with a slim little book called It Didn't Start With Victor Lasky. It lambasted Democrats mrecilessly for their 'ganging up' on ol' "Law 'n' Order" "Silent Majority" NixonThat's right: Lasky. Care to guess what religious persuasion Mr. Lasky belonged to?Given his anti-Semtic leanings, I wonder if ol' Tricky Dick ever thanked the author properly for his support? 
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Comment #1 posted by Lehder on April 15, 2002 at 09:35:14 PT
Joyce Nalepka, read this:
Timothy Leary took Linkletter to task in a 1979
   television appearance, taunting him: "You got in the Nixon White House on the basis of
   your daughter's death. I think that's ghoulish."   So when Linkletter strolled into the Oval Office shortly after noon on May 18, 1971, the
   stage was set for an historic meeting between a man who blamed drugs to cover up his
   own shortcomings as a parent and a president who would soon take covering up to new
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