Kenneth J. Hughes, Jr.’s article discusses new transcripts collection that has just been published from the Nixon tapes by the Miller Center. This is a list on the Miller Center’s website that pulls out the various conspiracy theories of Richard Nixon.
Hughes starts with the situation:
In July 1971, dogged by rising unemployment and inflation, Nixon imagined the existence of a “Jewish cabal” involving Federal Reserve Chairman Arthur F. Burns and the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The President had expected favorable press coverage on July 2, 1971, when the Bureau of Labor Statistics announced a big drop in the unemployment rate from 6.2 to 5.6 percent. When Nixon learned that the front-page of Washington’s Evening Star said, “The Labor Department warned that the dip might have been caused by a statistical quirk,” he ordered an investigation to find out who was responsible, saying, “He’s got to be fired.”
According to Hughes, it was a statistical quirk and Nixon knew it. It had to do with students looking for jobs and was part of the Labor Department’s annual adjustment. Hughes reports that Nixon was told about this:
…when Office of Management and Budget Director George P. Shultz informed the President of the drop in unemployment two days earlier, he’d described it, in these exact words, as “a statistical quirk.”
Not only was this known, but it had happened the year before – this was nothing new, but it “made no difference to Nixon, who focused his wrath on the assistant commissioner of labor statistics, Harold Goldstein.” Nixon already wanted to dispose of Goldstein, so this was just fodder.
White House Political Operative Charles W. “Chuck” Colson suggested a reorganization of the BLS and to put in a “politican” for Goldstein:
Nixon agreed and summoned Shultz and Labor Secretary James D. Hodgson into his office. “I want them to do it even-handed. And they’re not doing it that way,” Nixon said. “Every [press] release has been loaded against us. And deliberately.” The President asked for a plan.
Alone with Colson, Nixon asks if BLS was all Jews and begins to plot. He turns this into a hunt for Jewish "disloyalty":
Later, alone with Colson, Nixon said, “Well, listen, are they all Jews over there?”
“Every one of them,” Colson said. “Well, a couple of exceptions.”
“See my point?”
“You know goddamn well they’re out to kill us.”
Before lunch, Nixon gave his chief of staff an order. “Now, point: [White House Personnel Director Frederic V.] Malek is not Jewish.”
“No,” H.R. “Bob” Haldeman said.
“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?
“I sure do.”
“The government is full of Jews,” Nixon said. “Second, most Jews are disloyal. You know what I mean? 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.”
Now while Nixon was talking about not trusting Jews, Hughes says that was the Jews who couldn’t trust Nixon – he was turning on them. He had decided that a “Jewish cabal” and it included the Fed chairman. Now, point in fact, Nixon had appointed Burns and Burns was actually conspring with someone – Nixon! But Nixon was not happy with Burns:
But the Fed chairman had incurred his patron’s displeasure. Nixon had wanted a conservative economist at the Fed, but grew angry when he got one. As unemployment rose to politically harmful levels, Nixon wanted the Fed to follow an “easy money” policy that would reduce interest rates, lowering the cost to business of borrowing money, expanding operations and hiring more employees. Burns, however, warned that this would fuel inflation. On the morning of Nixon’s “Jewish cabal” comment, the Times had run this front-page headline: “Burns Says Inflation Curb Is Making Scant Progress.”
Burns got smeared, but Goldstein got forced out. “Harold Goldstein will be moved to a routine, non-sensitive post in another part of BLS,” Malek reported to Haldeman on Sept. 8, 1971. “He has been told of this and will move quietly when the reorganization is announced.
Hughes ends with this thought:
Typically, when Richard Nixon told himself people were conspiring against him, it meant he was about to conspire against them.
What I find interesting about this article is the wonderful information we are able to continually get from primary sources!