By: E&P Staff
Bob Woodward, a day after his front page Washington Post exclusive on his previously embargoed interviews with the late President Gerald R. Ford, returns Friday with a lengthy re-assessment of Ford’s friendly relationship with Richard Nixon, the man he succeeded.
Woodward suggests that it was this warmth, as much as sparing America a drawn-out trial of Nixon, that led to his controversial pardon.
Some of Woodward’s account is based on what he calls previously unmentioned tape recordings of Ford’s chats with Nixon. In one, then-congressman Ford joins in speaking ill of the powerful Rep. Hale Boggs, father of commentator/columnist Cokie Roberts.
Here is that part of Woodward’s story.
At times, their friendship was the gossipy sort, as two longtime politicians sorted through the Washington rumor mill. They were so comfortable with each other that they openly traded nasty personal assessments of others.
On April 6, 1971, for example, Nixon called Ford to find out what was going on with House Majority Leader Hale Boggs (D-La.). Boggs had just taken to the House floor alleging that FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover was regularly wiretapping members of Congress, and Nixon wanted to know why Boggs was going public.
“He’s nuts,” Ford told Nixon in the call picked up by Nixon’s secret taping.
“He’s on the sauce,” Nixon said, suggesting the majority leader was drinking. “Isn’t that it?”
“Well, I’m afraid that’s right, Mr. President.”
“Or is he crazy?” Nixon asked.
“Well, he’s either drinking too much or he’s taking some pills that are upsetting him mentally,” Ford replied.