Who Was H. R. Haldeman?
The quote that makes up the former subtitle of this book is compliments of H. R. Haldeman, courtesy of his diaries, which were published after his death in 1993. He said, “The whole problem is really with the Blacks.” What makes his quote so important is who he claims said it, Richard M. Nixon, the President who started the Drug War. What is more important is the fact that at Haldeman’s funeral, Nixon said that the man was “like a brother.” Indeed, as Nixon’s Chief of Staff, Haldeman worked very closely with the former President for many years.
Some background into H. R. Haldeman reveals that this man was no fool. He was an intelligent, cunning individual with ambition. His ambition began when he worked as an Executive for the Advertising firm, J. Walter Thompson. Indeed, to become an executive in an ad agency requires a high degree of salesmanship and cunning…both of which Haldeman had in abundance.
His Work with Nixon
In the forty years leading up to Richard Nixon’s victory in 1968, there had only been one Republican President, Dwight D. Eisenhower. With the exception of 1946 and 1952, Democrats controlled the U.S. House of Representatives not just up to that time, but on up to 1994. In that same time frame, with the exception of four years, from 1947-49, 1953-55, Democrats also controlled the U.S. Senate. Naturally, the Republican Party was becoming desperate for control. So Richard Nixon’s victory was exciting for the party.
But how did it happen?
Nixon ran unsuccessfully twice before, in 1956 and 1960. During those years, the Baby Boomer Generation was coming-of-age and the face of the nation was changing. The generation that fought World War II was about to become grandparents and the Cold War was blazing. Fear ruled the day. People built bomb shelters and Senator Joe McCarthy led his infamous Communist witch-hunt. Republicans well understood the role fear could play in gaining power, but had not yet honed the tactic.
Around this time, a GOP advisor by the name of Don Santarelli came up with a new strategy. It was as simple as it was brilliant. Make crime, which was naturally growing along with the population, though not in any significant way, the issue of the day. Tied to crime, would be drugs. With the development of the Vietnam War and the ensuing protests, the time was ripe by 1968 to present a tough stance on crime.
Nixon craftily painted Lyndon B. Johnson as soft on crime and the ploy worked. But up until that time, the Federal Government had no involvement in criminal activity unless those crimes involved crossing state lines or a threat to the sovereignty of the nation. Once he had the office, he had to make good on his stance and the only way to do this was to attack drugs, which were in no way a serious issue at that point.
But drugs were an easy target and could be used to whip up fear…fear for the youth of America, who were then expressing natural rights as citizens to protest another poorly executed war (Korea was the first). Tied to this would be fear of crime. At the same time, drug involvement increased and few Americans understood what was going on with the Hippie counterculture that used these substances. Fear, of course, is always based in ignorance and Nixon found a way to exploit that ignorance.
What does this have to do with Haldeman?
Haldeman managed Nixon’s unsuccessful run for California Governor in 1962. He worked closely with Nixon in each of his Presidential campaigns and once Nixon won in 1968, he was appointed Chief of Staff, which simply meant that he was Nixon’s right-hand man. The Chief of Staff is generally a trusted advisor and is usually privy to everything a President does. Haldeman was largely responsible for helping Nixon get into office then for finding ways for him to fulfill his promises. If anyone would know how Nixon felt about Blacks, it would be Haldeman.
To better appreciate and understand just how closely Haldeman worked with Nixon and helped shield him from his own vile behavior, one need only to look at what happened in the Watergate Scandal.
Nixon was facing impeachment, though that was never fully carried out for he resigned the office before the Senate completed hearings. However, Haldeman was not so fortunate. He was tried and found guilty of perjury, conspiracy, and obstruction of justice and sentenced to 2-1/2 to 8 years in prison, of which he served 18 months.
Now think about that.
Why did he commit perjury and how did he obstruct justice? He sought to shield Nixon from the fallout of the Watergate break-in and he got caught in his own deceit.
And think about this…
These were two fine Republicans who ran on a platform of doing something about the growing crime problem in America…AND THEY WERE CRIMINAL LEADERS! Incidentally, only six Republicans voted to impeach, so what does that tell us about the Republican mind-set at that time?
We can learn much from this time period and the tactics these two criminals used to gain, then abuse power by reading Haldeman’s Diaries. But perhaps the single biggest thing we need to know and understand is that Haldeman, Nixon, and Republican’s in Congress conspired against the American people, in particular African Americans, for their own political gain. They would not be the last.