Nixon Off the Record: His Candid Commentary on People and Politics

In This Review

Nixon Off the Record: His Candid Commentary on People and Politics

By Monica Crowley
Random House, 1996
231 pp. $23.00
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An enjoyable little book, by Nixon's foreign policy assistant from 1990 until his death in 1994, that paints a revealing portrait of the aging statesman's views in his last years. Touching is the picture of them conspiring together -- the fresh-faced coed (born in '68), all apparent sweetness and light, faithfully recording every night (unbeknownst to Nixon) the pearls of wisdom and buckets of black bile dispensed by the grizzled veteran of the political wars. If the author's observations are sometimes saccharine, her characterization of his views and phrasing seems absolutely true to form. Apart from detailing Nixon's preoccupation with engineering a massive aid package to Russia in 1992 and 1993, there is not much on foreign policy in this book; that will be treated more fully in a second volume. Instead, Crowley recounts his views on leadership, his running commentary on the 1992 elections, and his developing relationship with President Clinton, with whom he formed a troubled partnership in 1993 after having privately denounced him as an utterly worthless character the entire preceding year. Many of his observations -- of Hillary Clinton, James Baker, Warren Christopher, and Gerald Ford, among others -- are pretty withering, and not to be repeated in a family magazine. But his native shrewdness is also continually on display, along with the sometimes unintentional hilarity of the curmudgeon.