The Nixon Memo is a case study of Richard Nixon’s quest for political rehabilitation by Marvin Kalb. At issue is the key role of this former president of the United States who is best known for his involvement in the famous Watergate scandal. Nixon was trying to clean up his name in the post-cold war debate about aiding Russia in its uncertain revolution. Kalb, begins his book on March 10, 1992. Nixon had just written a private memo critical of President George Bush’s policy toward Russia to his closest friends in hopes of a leak. The memo leaked and exploded on the front page of The New York Times.
Nixon attacked President George Bush, by using the press to convey his ideas of what should be done with the falling Giant, Russia. Kalb goes on to show how the conventional wisdom on United States foreign policy is shaped by the insider’s game of press / politics to manipulation. This story of Nixon’s efforts to pressure the White House, by way of the press, into helping Boris Yeltsin and Russia ” Marvin Kalb read the documents behind the Nixon memo and interviewed scores of journalists, scholars, and officials in and from Washington and Moscow.” Drawing on his years of experience as a diplomatic correspondent, for NBC he identifies the press and politics in the fashioning of public policy. With the memo criticizing the president of the United States in 1992 this helped dictate the outcome of the presidential election. It put Bush as an outsider to a then up and coming Bill Clinton. With all the information out on the memo, such as the media coverage the information had to be exact knowing the significance of the topic.
Marvin Kalb, portrayed Nixon perfectly as in what kind of a man he was, a leader, and a fallen president. Kalb stated that “no other president would have been able to take the embarrassment, and hounding he took from the media, others faded away while he continued to express his views” (p. 9). This memo served Nixon as his last way to soften his name in history. Kalb made it clear early on in his writings that he was on the hate list of Nixon throughout his candidacy, such as his house being wire-tapped, along with his work office for NBC. But he gave credit to how Nixon played the media for what they were worth.
With no real power, the only way Nixon could be heard was through the mass media. This proved very effective. Marvin Kalb admits to playing a part by biting the lure placed before him in helping Richard Nixon’s cause. Nixon used mass media to influence a nation and government to how Russia should be handled, bringing to change in foreign affairs.
Kale’s writings were very easy to follow as it flowed smoothly easing the reader into a greater understanding who Richard M. Nixon was and his agenda. He broke down the politics between the media and the politicians that both can work together to create an opportune outcome. These two realms work well together as each side gets what they want. Kalb did not skip around in his writings as it went chronological order on a time line. What I especially liked that Marvin Kalb was able to hold my interest through most of his book.
A few parts were a bit slow in the beginning but that was to show credentials to which he had and the relevance to the memo. The fact that the memo was placed at the end of the book was perfect, it allowed me to view the letter that changed the roles of so many people in politics, and what gave Nixon a better outlook. The book was worth reading it gave me the insight to a man I really did not know much about besides the Watergate scandal. This was a quit man who kept to himself, but he could also be very cruel and try to bully those around him. I also learned he was more or less a pioneer in presidential debates on television, it helped him in cases but the most memorable was the debate between Nixon and Kennedy which hurt him badly in the poles. I believe that Kalb conveyed his message strongly that Nixon wanted to put a better spin on his name.
He wanted be remembered for something good, not by the scandal. He desperately tried to avoid that, and the memo was his chance to do so. He also served for President Clinton as an advisor with the Russians.