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Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Great Nixon Quotes

Someone just sent me a transcript of the 1978 Playboy magazine interview with David Frost. This was conducted just after Frost had conducted his historic interviews of Richard M. Nixon. To Playboy, he told the following anecdote which I've always thought was indicative of something quite amazing (I'm not sure what) about our thirty-seventh president...

Small talk, of course, is never easy with Nixon. For instance, one day, Nixon — wanting to be one of the boys — turned to me as we strolled in to start taping and said, "Did you do any fornicating this weekend?" And I just could not believe he'd said that. Quite apart from the fact that lovers use the word fornicating about as regularly as newsmen say, "Well, we've managed to trivialize matters again tonight, Henry." I mean, I just couldn't believe it. One almost had to warm to the sheer clumsiness of it all. It really did fascinate me that Nixon could have gotten through 30 years of politics, of attending countless fund raisers and such, and still be so bad at small talk.

One thing that's interesting about it is that as the transcripts of the infamous White House tapes show, Nixon was not at all reticent about using the more common "f" word around his buddies and underlings. Leaving aside the question of why he would even inquire about David Frost's sexual exploits, you have to wonder why the choice of the word, "fornicating?" Was it because Frost was British? Did he talk to Margaret Thatcher that way?

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