Daily Adams

ABOUT

Daily Adams is a repository of tweets, published pseudonymously by one person, under the name JOHN ADAMS. The choice of the pseudonym is intentionally ironic: as president, Adams came to support speech restrictions that he earlier would have found intolerable as a patriot. There are no flawless politicians.

Adams is the also publisher of DAILY WISCONSIN, a blog of news of Wisconsin (and sometimes points beyond), and FREE WHITEWATER, a blog of political and social commentary from (and sometimes about) Whitewater, Wisconsin.

2 comments for “ABOUT

  1. November 27, 2012 at 4:31 PM

    Just a correction…Richard Nixon’s famous “I am not a crook” line is indeed in reference to Watergate. The remarks were made to an assembly of 400 AP editors. From the Washington Post:

    Nixon Tells Editors, ‘I’m Not a Crook’
    By Carroll Kilpatrick
    Washington Post Staff Writer
    Sunday, November 18, 1973; Page A01

    “Orlando, Fla, Nov. 17 — Declaring that “I am not a crook,” President Nixon vigorously defended his record in the Watergate case tonight and said he had never profited from his public service.

    “I have earned every cent. And in all of my years of public life I have never obstructed justice,” Mr. Nixon said.

    “People have got to know whether or not their President is a crook. Well, I’m not a crook. I’ve earned everything I’ve got.”

    In an hour-long televised question-and-answer session with 400 Associated Press managing editors, Mr. Nixon was tense and sometimes misspoke. But he maintained his innocence in the Watergate case and promised to supply more details on his personal finances and more evidence from tapes and presidential documents.”

    Thanks for the opportunity to be clear on the source of that quote.

  2. Adams
    November 27, 2012 at 7:12 PM

    Good evening, Scott

    Thanks very much for visiting, and for commenting.

    Nixon’s quote is certainly famous (and emblematic of his and Vice President Agnew’s scandal-plagued careers), but I think you’ll find that the AP story you’ve cited conflates several Nixon scandals on which he remarked at that press conference.

    There’s no question that the press conference addressed the Watergate scandal, but Nixon’s “I am not a cook” reply came in response to a question about his actual income, and a non-Watergate tax scandal circling Nixon. Below I have included the relevant portion of the press-conference transcript, and a New York Times story about the press conference that’s more detailed than the AP story.

    Transcript, from emersonkent.com (http://www.emersonkent.com/speeches/i_am_not_a_crook.htm), where Nixon was first asked about possibly inadequate tax payments, took a question about Watergate, but then went back to the tax issue:

    First Tax Question —
    THE PRESIDENT’S INCOME TAXES
    Q. Joe Ungaro of the Providence Evening Bulletin. The Journal-Bulletin on October 3 reported that you paid $792 in Federal income tax in 1970, and $878 in 1971. Are these figures accurate, and would you tell us your views on whether elected officials should disclose their personal finances?

    The President: Well, the answer to the second question is I have disclosed my personal finances, and an audit of my personal finances will be made available at the end of this meeting, because obviously you are all so busy that when these things come across your desk, maybe you don’t see them. I can simply point out that that audit I paid for–I have not gotten the bill yet but I know it is several thousands of dollars–and I think that that audit is one that is a pretty good one. That audit, however, deals with the acquisition of my property and knocks down some of the ideas that have been around. But since this question has been raised, let me, sir, try to respond to it as fully as I can.

    I paid $79,000 in income tax in 1969. In the next 2 years, I paid nominal amounts. Whether those amounts are correct or not, I do not know, because I have not looked at my returns, and obviously the Providence Journal has got much better sources than I have to find such returns. And I congratulate you, sir, for having such a lively staff.

    Now, why did I pay this amount? It was not because of the deductions for, shall we say, a cattle ranch or interest or, you know, all of these gimmicks that you have got where you can deduct from, which most of you know about, I am sure–if you don’t, your publishers do. But the reason was this: Lyndon Johnson came in to see me shortly after I became President. He told me that he had given his Presidential papers, or at least most of them, to the Government. He told me that under the law, up until 1969, Presidential or Vice Presidential papers given to the Government were a deduction, and should be taken, and could be taken as a deduction from the tax.

    And he said, “You, Mr. President, ought to do the same thing.” I said, “I don’t have any Presidential papers.” He said, “You have got your Vice Presidential papers.”

    I thought of that a moment and said, “All right, I will turn them over to the tax people.” I turned them over. They appraised them at $500,000. I suppose some wonder how could the Vice President’s papers be worth that. Well, I was, shall we say, a rather active Vice President. All of my personal notes, including matters that have not been covered in my book-which I don’t advise other people to write, but in any event I wrote one and I will stand by it–all of my papers on the Hiss case, on the famous fund controversy in 1952, on President Eisenhower’s heart attack, on President Eisenhower’s stroke, on my visit to Caracas when I had a few problems in 1968 [1958], and on my visit with Khrushchev, all of those papers, all of my notes, were valued, many believe conservatively, at that amount.

    And so, the tax people who prepared it prepared the returns and took that as a deduction. Now, no question has been raised by the Internal Revenue about it, but if they do, let me tell you this: I will be glad to have the papers back, and I will pay the tax because I think they are worth more than that.

    I can only say that we did what we were told was the right thing to do and, of course, what President Johnson had done before, and that doesn’t prove, certainly, that it was wrong, because he had done exactly what the law required.

    Since 1969, of course, I should point out Presidents can’t do that. So I am stuck with a lot of papers now that I have got to find a way to give away or otherwise my heirs will have a terrible time trying to pay the taxes on things that people aren’t going to want to buy.

    Nixon returns to the tax issue later in the conference, and utters his infamous, “I am not a crook” defense in response to those financial questions:

    [To the next questioner] Let me just respond, if I could, sir, before going to your question–I will turn left and then come back to the right; I don’t want to tilt either way at the moment, as you can be sure–since the question was raised a moment ago about my tax payments.

    I noted in some editorials and perhaps in some commentaries on television, a very reasonable question. They said, you know, “How is it that President Nixon could have a very heavy investment in a fine piece of property in San Clemente and a big investment in a piece of property in Florida,” in which I have two houses, one which I primarily use as an office and the other as a residence, and also an investment in what was my mother’s home, not very much of a place but I do own it–those three pieces of property.

    I want to say first, that is all I have. I am the first President since Harry Truman who hasn’t owned any stock since ever I have been President. I am the first one who has not had a blind trust since Harry Truman. Now, that doesn’t prove that those who owned stocks or had blind trusts did anything wrong. But I felt that in the Presidency it was important to have no question about the President’s personal finances, and I thought real estate was the best place to put it.

    But then, the question was raised by good editorial writers–and I want to respond to it because some of you might be too polite to ask such an embarrassing question–they said, “Now, Mr. President, you earned $800,000 when you were President. Obviously, you paid at least half that much or could have paid half that much in taxes or a great deal of it-how could you possibly have had the money? Where did you get it?”

    And then, of course, overriding all of that is the story to the effect that I have a million dollars in campaign funds, which was broadly printed throughout this country with retractions not quite getting quite as much play as the printing of the first, and particularly not on television. The newspapers did much better than television in that respect, I should point out.

    And second, they said, “How is it that as far as this money is concerned, how is it possible for you to have this kind of investment when all you earned was $800,000 as President?”

    Well, I should point out I wasn’t a pauper when I became President. I wasn’t very rich as Presidents go. But you see, in the 8 years that I was out of office–first, just to put it all out and I will give you a paper on this, we will send it around to you, and these figures I would like you to have, not today, but I will have it in a few days–when I left office after 4 years as a Congressman, e years as a Senator, and 8 years at $45,000 a year as Vice President, and after stories had been written, particularly in the Washington Post to the effect that the [Vice] President had purchased a mansion in Wesley Heights and people wondered where the money came from, you know what my net worth was? Forty-seven thousand dollars total, after 14 years of Government service, and a 1958 Oldsmobile that needed an overhaul.

    Now, I have no complaints. In the next 8 years, I made a lot of money. I made $250,000 from a book and the serial rights which many of you were good enough to purchase, also. In the practice of law–and I am not claiming I was worth it, but apparently former Vice Presidents or Presidents are worth a great deal to law firms–and I did work pretty hard.

    But also in that period, I earned between $100,000 and $250,000 every year.

    So that when I, in 1968, decided to become a candidate for President, I decided to clean the decks and to put everything in real estate. I sold all my stock for $300,000–that is all I owned. I sold my apartment in New York for $300,000–I am using rough figures here. And I had $100,000 coming to me from the law firm.

    And so, that is where the money came from. Let me just say this, and I want to say this to the television audience: I made my mistakes, but in all of my years of public life, I have never profited, never profited from public service–I have earned every cent. And in all of my years of public life, I have never obstructed justice. And I think, too, that I could say that in my years of public life, that I welcome this kind of examination, because people have got to know whether or not their President is a crook. Well, I am not a crook. I have earned everything I have got.

    I think the transcript shows that NIxon’s famous line is in response to persistent questions about his dodgy finances.

    Here’s a New York Times account, fuller than the AP story, that acknowledges the “I am not a crook” declaration as related to a non-Watergate scandal (http://www.nytimes.com/learning/general/onthisday/big/1117.html#article):

    “Nixon Declares He Didn’t Profit From Public Life
    Tells A.P. Managing Editors ‘I’ve Earned Every Cent, I’m Not a Crook’ DISCUSSES MILK DEAL Predicts Both Haldeman and Ehrlichman Will Eventually ‘Come Out All Right’ Nixon Tells Editors He has Never Profited From Public Service and Emphasizes, ‘I’m Not a Crook’
    By R.W. APPLE. JR.
    Special to THE NEW YORK TIMES

    Disney World, Fla., Nov. 17–President Nixon told a group of newspaper executives tonight that he had never “profited from public service.” He added: “I’ve earned every cent. I’m not a crook.”

    The story includes details on the other scandals dogging Nixon, and describes the tax controversy Nixon faced:

    After months of torment over the Watergate and allied scandals, the President gave detailed answers to more than a dozen questions. Among his disclosure were the following:

    That he paid only “nominal amounts” of taxes in 1970 and 1971, principally because of deductions available to him for the donation of his Vice-Presidential papers. He gave no figures, but did not dispute those reported recently by The Providence, R.I., newspapers– $792 for 1970 and $878 for 1971.

    It says much about Nixon — and none of it good — that these sort of financial scandals persisted throughout his whole career. Whether Walker will wind up in Nixon’s circumstances I don’t know (although I couldn’t imagine supporting either of them).

    It’s a measure of the mess that was the Nixon Administration that one of his most colorful, memorable statements was about another scandal, concerning his finances, apart from Watergate.

    My very best to you,

    Adams

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.