The Nixon Library is a little miffed at the moment. It seems they don't care for the Watergate exhibit at the National Archives because, well, they feel it's just too harsh.
Officials at the National Archives have curated a searing recollection of the Watergate scandal, based on videotaped interviews with 150 associates of Richard M. Nixon, an interactive exhibition that was supposed to have opened on July 1. But the Nixon Foundation — a group of Nixon loyalists who controlled this museum until the National Archives took it over three years ago — described it as unfair and distorted, and requested that the archives not approve the exhibition until its objections are addressed.
The group of 'loyalists' include George Schultz, Henry Kissinger, Tricia Nixon Cox, Julie Nixon Eisenhower, and James Schlesinger(see 990 for full list).
According to the NARA announcement in 2007 when the Nixon Library became part of the NARA system, archives and displays become the exclusive province of the National Archives.
This "let the chips fall where they may" approach, of course, means that both positive and negative information about our former Presidents will be revealed. President Lyndon Johnson, for example, wanted visitors to his library to see the record of his presidency "with the bark off," and not everything in the archives of NARA's presidential libraries is complimentary to the men whose names are on the buildings.
President Nixon's allusion to the "deepest valley" and the "highest mountain" in his farewell speech also has relevance here. As we assume the stewardship now of all the Nixon records, it is our intention at the National Archives to preserve and make accessible to everyone the records of Richard Nixon's time in the deep valleys as well as on the highest mountain of his career.
Evidently, there is some objection to the presentation of the Watergate story without corresponding cross-references to other wiretapping Presidents. From the objection filed by Bob Bostock, former Nixon aide:
“Taping and wiretapping go back as far as F.D.R.,” Mr. Bostock said. “It lacks the context it needs: that Nixon was not the first president to do some of these things and that some of these things had been going on with many of his predecessors, in some cases, much more than he did.”
Ah, the old "they do it too, two-step". I'm curious though -- were FDR and Nixon's predecessors caught breaking into the national headquarters of the opposing party?
Ultimately, this group doesn't have a lot to say about it:
The Nixon Foundation does not have veto power and by law serves in an advisory role. The final ruling will be made by officials of the National Archives within the next few weeks.
But I saved the best for last, just because it will make you laugh on a Monday, maybe even belly laugh. From Bostock, again:
“I worked for Mr. Nixon during the last five years of his life,” Mr. Bostock said. “Definitely the president did things that were wrong. He said so himself. The real question always comes to, Did the actions that he took that were wrong, did they merit impeachment and removal from my office? My view is that they did not reach the level of offenses for which he could be impeached and convicted."
I'm guessing Bill Clinton might beg to differ.