Nixon's Jew count: the whole story!

Gossip, speculation, and scuttlebutt about politics.
Sept. 26 2007 7:07 PM

Nixon's Jew Count: the Whole Story!

A multimedia extravaganza.

(Continued from Page 1)

Nixon: Now, point: [Fred] Malek is not Jewish.

Haldeman: No.

Nixon: All right, I want a look at any sensitive areas around where Jews are involved, Bob. See, the Jews are all through the government, and we have got to get in those areas. We've got to get a man in charge who is not Jewish to control the Jewish … do you understand?

Haldeman: I sure do.

Nixon: The government is full of Jews. Second, most Jews are disloyal. You know what I mean? You have a [White House Counsel Leonard] Garment and a [National Security Adviser Henry] Kissinger and, frankly, a [White House speechwriter William] Safire, and, by God, they're exceptions. But Bob, generally speaking, you can't trust the bastards. They turn on you. Am I wrong or right?

Haldeman: Their whole orientation is against you. In this administration, anyway. And they are smart. They have the ability to do what they want to do—which—is to hurt us.

Three weeks pass. It is now the morning of July 24, 1971, and Nixon, fulminating about Daniel Ellsberg and the New York Times and administration leaks, finds his thoughts drifting back to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. What follows is from a second new Miller Center transcription (click here and scroll to the bottom):


Nixon: One other thing I want to know. Colson made an interesting study of the BLS crew. He found out of the 21—you remember he said last time—16 were Democrats. No, he told me in the car, 16 were registered Democrats, one was a registered Republican [inaudible] well, there may have been 23. And four were Declined to States. Now that doesn't surprise me in BLS. The point that he did not get into that I want to know, Bob, how many were Jews? Out of the 23 in the BLS, would you get me that?

Haldeman: [White House deputy assistant] Alex [Butterfield] is getting it.

Nixon: There's a Jewish cabal, you know, running through this, working with people like [Federal Reserve Chairman Arthur F.] Burns and the rest. And they all—they all only talk to Jews. Now, but there it is. But there's the BLS staff. Now how the hell do you ever expect us to get anything from that staff, the raw data, let alone what the poor guys have to say [inaudible] that isn't gonna be loaded against us? You understand?

Haldeman: Is Alex working on that?

Ehrlichman: Malek.

Nixon: Oh, Malek is. Oh.

Unidentified Person: [whispering] I'll get this to you today.

We're going on a Jew hunt!

Two days later, on July 26, Haldeman sends a memo to Malek. "What's the status of your analysis of the BLS; specifically of the 21 key people?" Haldeman writes. "What is their demographic breakdown?"

Malek answers in a memo the following day. Out of 50 names on the organization chart, Malek has run down the party affiliations of 35. Twenty-five are Democrats, one is a Republican, and nine are either independents, not registered, or of unknown party affiliation. "In addition," Malek writes (someone—presumably either Haldeman or Nixon himself—has underlined this sentence), "13 out of the 35 fit the other demographic criterion that was discussed." Scribbled beneath this (I'm guessing by Haldeman) are the words, "Most of these are at the top." (Malek's method of identifying who was Jewish and who wasn't was to scrutinize surnames, rendering his estimate as unreliable as it was abhorrent.)

Six weeks pass, and it is Sept. 8, 1971. Malek reports in a memo   (previously unpublished; thanks, again, to Kenneth J. Hughes) that he has had "several meetings" with Labor Secretary Hodgson "to convince him of the need for fairly drastic moves." Six out of nine offices will be combined into an Office of Data Analysis. This will be headed by a "politically sensitive, loyal Republican economist," presumably one who does not have a mezuzah nailed to his front door. The move will strip the BLS' deputy commissioner, the unfortunately surnamed Ben Burdetsky, from authority "over the most critical areas."

In addition, "Harold Goldstein will be moved to a routine, non-sensitive post in another part of BLS. He has been told of this and will move quietly when the reorganization is announced." Goldstein, too, will be replaced by a "sensitive and loyal Republican," one who we may assume eats shellfish with a clear conscience. (Goldstein lost some key duties, had a new supervisor placed above him, and decided less than a year later to retire at 57.)

In addition, Malek reports, two other associate commissioners with Jewish-sounding names—Peter Henle and Leon Greenberg—"will be transferred when the reorganization is announced." (Henle, after a sabbatical at the Brookings Institution, was reassigned to the Library of Congress and after Jimmy Carter became president in 1977 returned to the Labor department * as a deputy assistant secretary before retiring in 1979. He died at 88 this past February. I don't know what happened to Greenberg.)