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John Dean Revisits Watergate

Audio

Aired 8/5/09

John Dean, former counsel to President Richard Nixon and arguably the star of the Senate Watergate Hearings, has written a new ending for his book on Watergate and the Nixon presidency, Blind Ambition. We ask what new information he reveals and his opinion of the Bush administration.

This is a rush transcript created by a contractor for KPBS to improve accessibility for the deaf and hard-of-hearing. Please refer to the media file as the formal record of this interview. Opinions expressed by guests during interviews reflect the guest’s individual views and do not necessarily represent those of KPBS staff, members or its sponsors.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH (Host): I'm Maureen Cavanaugh and you're listening to These Days on KPBS. As a young man, Nixon White House counsel John Dean gained a place in history by testifying before the Senate Watergate Committee. But more recently, Dean, now an author and political commentator has been speaking out about what he sees as new abuses of political power. In a series of best-selling books, John Dean, a former Republican, has been critical of the eight years of the Bush/Cheney administration and the GOP majority in congress. The title of one of his books "Worse Than Watergate" itself describes the historical context and severe analysis Dean has given to what he calls the authoritarian nature of the Bush administration. John Dean has just released a new edition of his first bestseller, “Blind Ambition,” with additional information on some of the persistent questions that have lingered about the Watergate scandal. And it's my pleasure to welcome John Dean to These Days. Welcome.

JOHN DEAN (Author/Former White House Counsel): Good morning, Maureen.

CAVANAUGH: And I’d like to invite our audience to join the conversation. If you have a question or comment for John Dean, you can give us a call at 1-888-895-5727. I’d like to talk first briefly, if I could, about your recent address at the Nixon library up in Yorba Linda because I’m wondering what it was like for you. You’re seen by many as an adversary, an enemy of Richard Nixon, what was it like to be a featured speaker there?

DEAN: Well, as you know, the library is now controlled by the National Archives, which has really changed the administration of the library. Originally, the Nixon Foundation controlled the library. They’re the people who objected seriously to my coming and speaking. They analogized it to Monica Lewinsky going to visit the Clinton library that – to celebrate the day he was impeached. I didn’t quite the see the analogy but it was – that was the point they were making. In fact, I’m told they went so far as to call all living presidents who have presidential libraries to try to get them to step in and block my appearance. So this was a big push. They failed. No former president came in. They all – In fact, I have spoken at most presidential libraries excepting the Nixon library. You know, there are thirteen of them. I think I’ve probably hit seven or eight of them over the years. So I was so – You know, I wasn’t totally surprised but I thought it certainly was poor taste because I – I don’t really dislike Richard Nixon. I just happen to like the truth more than I like trying to shade it for him. And the audience, when I was there, was actually very friendly. They came to hear what I had to say. There were a few Nixon Foundation docents who tried to be a little hostile in some of the questioning but, you know, having done this for thirty-some years now, I can’t imagine a question I can’t handle. So it was an interesting experience and I – I think I opened some eyes for some people who didn’t want to hear some of the things I had to say but they looked at it a little differently when I was able to shed some light on some of these dark corners that they like to keep dark.

CAVANAUGH: Well, it – that – Much of your speech had to do with a growing trend to revise the history of the Watergate scandal and you spoke out against that.

DEAN: Well, I did. I’ve actually – because of very personal reasons. That’s one of the reasons I issued – reissued “Blind Ambition.” They’re – The publishers, over the years, have asked me to republish that. It’s been out of print for two decades. And one of the reasons I did it, or didn’t before, is I had nothing to say. But as a result of a lawsuit I brought against some of these revisionists, I, first of all, acquired an awful lot of new information about what happened in the Nixon White House. I’m somebody who had never read any of the memoirs of my former colleagues. I’d never looked at the evidence that was collected by the Senate Watergate Committee or the House Impeachment Committee or the Watergate prosecutor. And during the course of this lawsuit, which went on for some nine years, I had to really study that material closely and as a result I learned a lot of things. I said, this should be shared with people who are interested in this period of history because it sheds a lot of light on things. But more importantly, I needed to show the bogus nature of the revisionism that’s going on and is being touted as history by Nixon apologists and people who are just out to make a fast buck. So that’s what the – I put a – about a 30,000 word – It’s a small book, if you will, addition to “Blind Ambition” to bring it up to date. I also – I didn’t change – I, after reading it, I saw there’s no reason to change a word I put in here. I did add some footnotes throughout the rest of the book. And when reading it—and I hadn’t read it in 30 years—in fact I haven’t reread any of my ten books…

CAVANAUGH: Yeah.

DEAN: …after I’ve written them. I – They’re like children, you know them pretty well, you don’t really need to reread them. But I did reread it to put right this afterword and I was stunned at the candor I had when I’d first written it, and that was the theory that I had, I said, you know, why tell this story “Blind Ambition” if you don’t tell it pretty brutally and pretty candidly where somebody else might get something out of it by learning from the mistakes you made. And over the years, that’s certainly been the most frequent comment I’ve had, where people said not only did it open my eyes about what happened in the Nixon White House, but for the grace of God, there go I. I could see any of us, anybody could get into the kind of situation you found yourself.

CAVANAUGH: Right, exactly. And I, you know, in reminding our listeners, your famous line at the hearings, the Senate hearings about Watergate was that you told Richard Nixon that the Watergate cover-up was a cancer growing on the presidency. You also told the committee that you thought you were being taped inside the Oval Office and which has led to the discovery of the Nixon tapes. And what kind of a resource do you think those tapes are for history?

DEAN: Well, I’m sure they’re one that have assured us no other president will ever record, particularly voice activated record, everything he does in the Oval Office and his other key offices. It’s created a historical record of that presidency, about 90% of it anyway, that the likes of which we never will find again. For example, I wrote another book called “The Rehnquist Choice,” where I was involved in the selection of a couple of justices that were added to the Supreme Court during Nixon’s tenure. And I knew what had happened when I was in the room; I didn’t know what had happened when I wasn’t in the room. And the tapes answered that question. And I, rather than publishing transcripts, I literally used the tapes to create dialogue and so they’re the very words that were said, I just took the hmms, and the ahhs and the repetitions that are, you know, very typical in conversation out of them and they work quite nicely so you have this dialogue in the Oval Office when I’m not there and sometimes when I am there. And they provide – There’s a remarkable tool. In fact, several historians have told me, you know, we will never have, ever again, that kind of record of how a justice was selected by a president. It’s so intimate and you get Nixon’s thinking. It’s also to me, at times, hilarious because at one point Nixon was seriously considering and being pushed by his wife, Pat Nixon, to put a woman on the court. And so he’s seriously considering this and he’s got his Attorney General, John Mitchell, in there. He never – I didn’t hear this side of it when I was busy vetting women but he said it to Mitchell at one point, he said, you know, he said, John, I can’t imagine putting a woman on the court. You know how those chambers up there at the Supreme Court are small. That would be like putting a woman in a space capsule with men. He – he was sort of keep ‘em barefoot and in the kitchen, despite two lovely daughters and a lovely wife, who he didn’t treat that way at all. And he – At one point he says to Mitchell, he says, you know, well, thank God I don’t have any women on my cabinet. And then he turns to Mitchell, says, well, my cabinet’s so terrible anyway—he used an expletive actually—he said, women couldn’t make it any worse.

CAVANAUGH: Wow.

DEAN: So he’s very, in a sense, historically and with hindsight, rather humorous at times. He’s a – almost comedic in his reactions that were so off base on some of his perceptions.

CAVANAUGH: It’s like a time capsule. It’s just amazing. Now the reissue of your book “Blind Ambition: The End of the Story” has – contains material that you say answers the most persistent Watergate questions. I wonder, what are those questions? As you’ve been going around and speaking to groups and answering questions from journalists for years and years now, what are the questions that come up and what answers have you found to them?

DEAN: Well, I – It’s a pretty good, hefty section I – where I – I closed the afterword off with what used to be the most frequent question and most predictable was, who was Deep Throat?

CAVANAUGH: Yeah, right, right.

DEAN: Bob Woodward’s source. We, of course, know the answer to that now. I – I think it’s a pretty disappointing source since Mark Felt really – he was the number two man at the FBI and was really breaching all etiquette for – and probably some laws, in talking to Woodward. And he was doing it not because he had some moral qualms about what he was witnessing at the White House in the investigation, as a result of the FBI’s investigation, but rather he was trying to move out the director, Pat Gray, who was the acting director, so he could get the seat and embarrass him. So it wasn’t a particularly noble motive that drove Felt.

CAVANAUGH: Was the – Like Felt, was that revelation a complete surprise to you?

DEAN: It was and it wasn’t. There’s actually a curious tape in the fall, in October of 1972, during Watergate and the cover up and I learned from the head of the Criminal Division of the Department of Justice, Henry Petersen, that Mark Felt is a serious leak. An attorney for the Washington Post has come to Petersen, who’s the number one Assistant Attorney General in charge of enforcing federal criminal laws and in charge of the Watergate investigation, and this attorney tells Petersen that Mark Felt is leaking information about the investigation. I take that back to Haldeman who, in turn, takes it to Nixon and it comes up on the tape reporting back what I had shared. Nixon’s conversation is very interesting. He is not surprised. He’s, as you know, anti-Semitic and he puts this in that context with Felt. But what’s interesting also is the early transcripts that came out of those conversations didn’t get the full tenure and texture of what Nixon was really saying. At one point, for example, the Cutler’s, Stanley Cutler’s, who did a number of the transcripts of the tapes, his transcript has Nixon, where he’s talking to Haldeman and he says at one point, you know what I’d do with Felt? A sort of rhetorical question. And then he says, then just – there’s some – it just drops off, and he – the transcript says, son of a bitch. But what he really – When I listened to it, and I have a pretty good ear for these conversations, he says, you know what I’d do with Felt? Ambassadorship. Big…

CAVANAUGH: Oh.

DEAN: …big difference.

CAVANAUGH: Big difference, yes.

DEAN: This is – this is what they did with Helms, the head of the CIA. To keep him quiet and go off happily, they gave him the Ambassadorship to Iran.

CAVANAUGH: Oh, my goodness. Well, now that we know who Deep Throat was, what are the other persistent questions that you address and what – I guess there were so many of them I can’t ask you for them all but maybe if you can give us two persistent questions that you find an answer to in the new edition of “Blind Ambition.”

DEAN: Well, a number of people ask me, particularly sophisticated lawyers, why did I plead guilty. I was in an interesting situation. I had – Because of the way I came forward of my own volition, because of the way I set it up to try to get Nixon to come forward and end the cover up, I had immunity and yet I pleaded to the only offense I know I was involved in, which was to conspire to obstruct justice. But my lawyer to this day reminds me that I had Oliver North’s case where he beat the rap long before Oliver North even arrived at the White House. And people want to know why I didn’t do that, well, I didn’t do that because I’d said, you know, I’d made mistakes and I think in our system you don’t beat the rap, you pay the price. And the price wasn’t particularly severe for me. I, you know, yes, I lost my law license. I could’ve gone back and gotten it and – and resumed practice. It’s not something I have chosen to do. But it was just, to me, the right thing to do. If you admit you’ve committed a conspiracy to obstruct justice, I think you ought to pay the price.

CAVANAUGH: And, you know, I wonder, you have spoken out against people who actually are trying to revise the whole idea of what Watergate was about. But I also wonder what your feeling was about the rehabilitation of Richard Nixon as he got over Watergate and years passed and he became sort of – sort of, I suppose, an elder statesman and he talked policy issues and he made trips around the world. What did you think of that new Nixon?

DEAN: Well, to me, you know, I – it was very clear early when he began running for the office of ex-president that I thought he would get there. I think the books he wrote helped. He clearly – You know, Watergate wasn’t original sin and particularly when you look at it through later history of the Bush/Cheney administration, it’s pretty petty stuff. Nixon had national security defenses to explain a lot of the things that were in his so-called Bill of Impeachment that never really went to a Bill of Impeachment, it was just a report on a Bill of Impeachment, and those never were tried, never tested. In fact, it might’ve been healthy for the system had they been because it would have defined what presidents can and can’t do in these areas of national security where Bush and Cheney pushed the envelope so much way beyond where Nixon had taken it. And in the worst of times Nixon, I don’t think, would’ve ever tortured anybody. He was – He fought in World War II, he – I watched him up close during the My Lai massacre and his horror with that, during the Vietnam situation, and so there were boundaries. But I think that what happened, Nixon had a reservoir of ill will that, really, much of it was inherited from Lyndon Johnson and Vietnam. Now the system – the country was just at a – it was really an ugly time and Nixon was not the best person because he – you know, he felt that people should let their presidents govern and try to resolve things like Vietnam as best they can without humbling and embarrassing a country. His China initiative was bold and has changed history. His grasp of world affairs has been unmatched by, I think, all presidents, maybe with the exception of Bush I, who had another similar grasp of international affairs. So people are recognizing there was good in this presidency, no question. He, as a – on domestic matters, was probably the last liberal progressive president we’ve had. He’s certainly to the left of Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter on his domestic programs. I – He – You know, where his domestic approach is today would be considered radical left. So I think people are looking at that and saying there may have been some good in this presidency and while Nixon could be his own worst enemy, he managed to get back into a fairly good standing certainly with all of his predecessors who came to his funeral and spoke highly of him because they recognized that he made some tough calls.

CAVANAUGH: Before we get on to some of your more recent work, I want to ask you, did you uncover any new information about Nixon’s role in Watergate?

DEAN: I did, as a result of the lawsuit and all those years of digging through Nixon material, and I’m one who believes that memory is always questionable and I had the unique experiment of having everything I remembered taped, certainly with regard to Nixon. And I tried to remember telling the committee my mind is not a tape recorder but I was held to that standard, and you just can’t. But documents speak for themself (sic) and the Nixon taping system speaks for itself. And while all those tapes are not released—in fact, there’s about another 700 hours yet to be released, that will be right in the key period, the last months before they pulled the plug after it’s revealed there is a taping system, but literally from February of ’73 until July of ’73 is – are the times that are yet to be released. Excuse me. There’s a lot of good material in there. The heavy abuse of power tapes have already been released but there is material to come out. Where was I going with that?

CAVANAUGH: Well, you were going with did you – new information about Nixon’s role…

DEAN: Yeah, new information, right.

CAVANAUGH: …in Watergate.

DEAN: I didn’t have a senior moment, just got so enthralled with my own – that tangent that I couldn’t find my way back here.

CAVANAUGH: Well, I mean, actually that’s fascinating. That’s – that area of time, that those tapes have not been released, that’s going to be – we’re going to hear some incredible material.

DEAN: Well, as Bob Woodward likes to call them, the gift that keeps on giving.

CAVANAUGH: Yeah. Yeah, right.

DEAN: But, yes, I did, what I discovered and while I didn’t find Nixon and I don’t believe Nixon did order the Watergate break-in, it’s clear what he did order resulted in the Watergate break-in. And what he wanted was financial information on what the Democrats were doing with their convention. There’s really only one or two places you can get that and that was the Democratic National Committee or Larry O’Brien’s office in Florida as they were setting up the convention. And, clearly, you know, that crazy Gordon Liddy did whatever he thought was necessary to find that information and Mitchell and Magruder had approved it. And so I actually found both documents and tapes that make that point because this has been one of the supposed mysteries the revisionists keep raising about why did they break in and everybody knows that’s stupid. Well, it wasn’t so stupid because it’s what Nixon wanted. And both before the break-in and then after the break-in, when amnesia hits the White House about anything to do with anything regarding these activities, he and Haldeman and Nixon occasionally slipped on tapes and they, indeed, are quite aware of why they were in there and what they were looking for. And that comes up in passing references during conversations. So I – And I haven’t even read all the tapes. I mean, these are just the ones that have been transcribed and I had, because of my litigation, reason to read and I said, holy cow, I should make a note of that, and did. So I – I regathered that information for this afterword to make the case so people would understand that there really are no mysteries about Watergate and particularly this alleged big mystery about why they were in the Watergate and what they were doing has not been a mystery at all.

CAVANAUGH: I’m speaking with John Dean and we’re talking about the rerelease of his book “Blind Ambition.” It’s a new edition with more information. It’s called “The End of the Story.” And we have to take a short break. We will return with more conversation on These Days in just a few moments.

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CAVANAUGH: I'm Maureen Cavanaugh. You're listening to These Days on KPBS. My guest is John Dean, who originally came to notoriety as Nixon White House counsel during the Watergate years. He is currently the author of a series of bestselling books and a political commentator. And we – if you do have a question or comment for John Dean, we’re taking your calls at 1-888-895-5727. Now, after Watergate, John, your book came out and, as you say, you were involved in some lawsuits but mostly you left the public stage and you…

DEAN: I did.

CAVANAUGH: …got on with your life. But during the Bush administration, you started to again speak out and write books, your bestseller, “Worse Than Watergate.” Why did you decide to launch headlong into politics again?

DEAN: Well, what happened is I had promised myself when I turned sixty, if I could afford to do so, I would resume writing. I didn’t think I’d be having one bestseller after another. I’d had a successful career in what we call private investment banking doing lots of mergers and acquisitions just in California and had enjoyed that business. I had gone back to UCLA to night school for five years to study accounting for credit and they knew who I was so I had to get all A’s or not embarrass myself. And I had enjoyed the success in business and was in a position I could do most anything and after the lawsuit came to rest, that’s what I decided I would do, is notwithstanding my partners want me to come back into business, I would do the writing I’d always done or wanted to do. So the first book was really “The Rehnquist Choice,” and I had not planned to write sort of topical, political books but then the Bush administration came in and nobody was talking about, for example, the, to me, conspicuous secrecy of this presidency. I’d watched it during the campaign, I’d watched it during the early months when Bush is issuing executive orders that virtually repeal a 1978 Presidential Records Act, which is one of the real cornerstones of any public knowing what their president’s doing. And he was, as I say, by executive fiat overturning legislation and I couldn’t understand why the mainstream wasn’t covering this. Now, I think, everybody everywhere understands we had one of the most secret presidencies we’ve ever had. So I began digging into that and found that the secrecy was far worse than Watergate, anything that Nixon had done, and that was what gave birth to that title. And I’m one who happens, excuse me, happens to believe that secrecy spawns the kinds of activities that have become so troublesome about the Bush administration, the torture, the abuses of civil rights and liberties, the use of, you know, massive electronic surveillance of citizens. We don’t even know the full story there yet. Ignoring the FISA Law that had been worked out post-Nixon and post-Watergate to resolve – there would be a standard mechanism to do this. Now, terrorism created a serious problem. It didn’t mean chucking the constitution. We weren’t there. And I was surprised to see Bush and Cheney engage in the fear mongering they were engaging in to push the envelope on executive powers way beyond anything that had ever been the norm of the modern presidency, way beyond what was needed. The problem is, these powers don’t get turned back over; they remain there on the shelf and we’re watching the Obama administration pick up some of them and not inclined to turn them back over. It…

CAVANAUGH: Right. Does that disturb you, to see the Obama administration taking up some of these?

DEAN: Well, they did reverse some like the ’78 Presidential Records Act. He immediately reversed the Bush executive order on that to make that applicable to Bush as well, much to, I’m sure, Cheney’s chagrin although he wants some documents now. It has not surprised me for this reason, people forget that the national security community in Washington serves both Republicans and Democrats. Other than at the very top, there’s seldom very few changes in that operation and almost every department and agency has some connection to national security. Some are – that’s their sole mission, the Defense Department, the State Department, Homeland Security now where they consolidated so many departments and agencies. But that community is, by nature, secretive. They had been beat up pretty badly and taken a lot of abuse under the Bush/Cheney years, so I was not surprised, for example, when the second set of – or, the first set of pictures under the Obama administration as to the abusive torture that went on in various American facilities was reversed. That, to me, was the – and, in fact, it was stated that the military had advised Obama that the release of those pictures would be very dangerous for American soldiers. That may or may not be true. I don’t know any way, any general, any national security expert could say that’s true. They might’ve also been helpful because it would show the Americans really were putting this behind them and they were going to show the worst and get it – this is what we’re not going to do, and make that point. Yes, it would’ve had some short term propaganda advantages but it would’ve had some long term impacts as well to say that this is certainly not a policy, and it’s self-healing when we start revealing these sorts of things. But that’s, indeed, the power of that community to influence a president who needs them so badly and who is being bombarded with briefers as to all these grim problems and I suspect that he’s not getting all sides of the story. He might get a minor reference, well, yes, this might be good but it’s a, you know, we’ll call it 90-10 bad. And this sort of thing makes it very difficult for – particularly for a rookie president.

CAVANAUGH: Yeah.

DEAN: Now, a – This is where a Richard Nixon or a George Bush or somebody who has extensive national security experience can make judgments or a Kissinger or somebody like that that is advising a new president at the top. But his people, Obama’s people, are really just pure establishmentarians in the area of national security.

CAVANAUGH: As you look at the Republican party, a lot of people say it’s pretty much in shambles now. You’re a former Republican. You were a Barry Goldwater Republican. Where did the Republican Party go wrong?

DEAN: That’s a tough one. I’d – On many issues, certainly on a lot of economic issues, I still in many ways am a Goldwater conservative, and a Goldwater conservative, for all practical purposes, like a Nixon domestic policy wonk is well left of center today. Goldwater was not the radical rightwinger that today is – he would – In fact, before Goldwater passed away, he had – was really at odds with his party. In fact, he had – when a member of the religious right, a fellow named Doug Wead, came out to Arizona to run for a open congressional seat out there against a woman who was a longtime Arizona legislator and a very accomplished local politician, a Democrat, Goldwater, when this fellow started calling himself a Goldwater conservative, Barry handled that nicely by endorsing the woman in the race. And so he made clear who the Goldwater conservative was.

CAVANAUGH: A very – very simple way of doing it, yeah.

DEAN: Right, right.

CAVANAUGH: Now, you know, your books and your appearances on shows like the Daily Show and Keith Olbermann have given you a whole new generation of people who know you. And I’m wondering, do you encounter many people who don’t even know about Watergate?

DEAN: Oh, sure. I’ve been up at USC as a visiting scholar for about eight years now and the students today – I don’t even think it’s in the history books anymore. Maybe one or – in a class that I regularly lecture of about 250, they are second and third year students, maybe one or two have seen “All The President’s Men” and that’s their totality of their knowledge. Or maybe one has seen Oliver Stone’s “Nixon” film. But they have virtually no knowledge. That’s another reason I decided to reissue “Blind Ambition” because it was a book that appealed initially to young people. Hopefully, it will reappeal to another couple of generations, so I’m encouraging people who remember the book to buy it for their children and grandchildren to spread this story for another generation because I think it’s a – it’s an interesting measuring rod. It was a horrific scandal for those who lived through it, and people had nothing to judge, for example, what Bush and Cheney were doing against Nixon. They didn’t realize that, indeed, we may have gone even further with the imperial presidency than we want. And I think that a book like this helps to give people that kind of insight, these later generations.

CAVANAUGH: Right, because I would imagine that it’s your feeling that we lose so much if we don’t recognize the fact that this sort of tremendous thing happened in the 1970s, this nation-shaking event if our memories only go back to the beginning of this particular century.

DEAN: That’s right. The collective memory on Watergate – In fact, I open with reference to a – I think he’s based in San Diego, a gentleman who has written about the collective memory of Watergate and a professor, and it’s pretty selective today, if at all, and fading fast. And while, you know, it’s very easy to repeat history, it just doesn’t take much to acquire a little bit of historical knowledge. This book was not a – it was written in a unique way of people say that, you know, it’s more like a novel than it is like a – certainly anything close to a textbook. And so it’s pretty fast-moving and young people have always enjoyed the read because they can identify with another young person going through some rather interesting maturing experiences.

CAVANAUGH: Yes, that’s a good way of putting it. You know, we’ve been talking about a lot of serious subjects and I just, you know, I can’t stop myself. I have to end on this. We have seen, as you mentioned, a lot of movie portrayals of Richard Nixon. There’s the Oliver Stone movie, the most recently, Frank Langella played the part in “Frost/Nixon.” I wonder if you’ve ever seen anyone portray Richard Nixon in a way – if they’ve ever captured him?

DEAN: Well, I thought Anthony Hopkins actually did a remarkable job in Oliver Stone’s “Nixon.” I can literally suspend disbelief in that film when I’m watching him. I got – I was a consultant on the film. Oliver wanted to have as much verisimilitude as possible. Alex Butterfield was another one who helped – In fact, Alex even – We both appear in the film but no one’ll ever find us. They’ll find Alex but not me.

CAVANAUGH: And, of course, Alex Butterfield, the gentleman who told the committee, the Senate committee that there were tapes in the White House.

DEAN: Yes, he was. It confirmed my – I had, indeed, been taped as I suspected. But with Hopkins – In fact, I’ll tell you a close on this story. He went out to the Nixon library and was doing a tour and they learned he was there and the librarian said, well, Mr. Hopkins, I certainly hope you’re not going to do a number on Mr. Nixon. He said, oh, no, no. And I saw Anthony at lunch that day. He said, I’m not, am I? And I said, no, no, I don’t this script does that at all. He said, well, that’s good, he said, because I went – for example, I visited that little room where Richard Nixon could hear the train whistles and, he said, you know, I came up from rather humble origins myself with dreams and I could really empathize and identify with this man. And I think he played it that way. He played it straight down the middle. You, every now and then, pick up a little of his clipped British accent in the film but it, to me, Oliver did a remarkable job. Yeah, there’s some stuff where he got a little far out on conspiracy theories but that’s Oliver. But overall the film, I think, is fair and it’s a – it’s not a black and white photograph, it’s a portrait, and it’s a pretty interesting and accurate portrait.

CAVANAUGH: I want to thank you so much for speaking with us today.

DEAN: My pleasure.

CAVANAUGH: I’ve been speaking with John Dean. His new book, his re-released book is called “Blind Ambition: The End of the Story.” And John Dean will speak and sign books this evening beginning at 6:30 in La Mesa at the La Mesa Community Center. And if you would like to comment about anything you’ve heard today on These Days, go to our website, KPBS.org/TheseDays. And thank you for listening. You’ve been listening to These Days on KPBS.

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