Before They Were Stars: Nixon on Reagan

nixon-newsweek-cover-tapes.jpg David Corn points us to the latest nugget from the bottomless mine that is the Nixon tapes.

A new Miller Center transcript has Nixon and Henry Kissinger musing over the mind of Ronald Reagan, or lack thereof. With an added bonus: when Kissinger praises Reagan’s ability to deliver a line, Nixon erupts that he can get off a good one too.

“President Nixon: What’s your evaluation or Reagan after meeting him several times now.

Kissinger: Well, I think he’s a—actually I think he’s a pretty decent guy.

President Nixon: Oh, decent, no question, but his brains?

Kissinger: Well, his brains, are negligible. I—

President Nixon: He’s really pretty shallow, Henry.

Kissinger: He’s shallow. He’s got no . . . he’s an actor. He—When he gets a line he does it very well. He said, “Hell, people are remembered not for what they do, but for what they say. Can’t you find a few good lines?” [Chuckles.] That’s really an actor’s approach to foreign policy—to substantive—

President Nixon: I’ve said a lot of good things, too, you know damn well.”

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