Okay, as if I hadn't bogged down both my readers with enough audio links in my previous posting, there's one more site I want to mention: the Presidential Recordings section in the Scripps Library folder in the Miller Center for Public Affairs website.
This is a fascinating collection of secret presidential recordings from Franklin Roosevelt to Richard Nixon. (Nixon is the last one - at least as far as we know - who made secret recordings. If you don't know why his successors finally realized secretly taping things probably wasn't such a great idea, you need a refresher course in US history.)
Anyway, these recordings are a fascinating look into not only the processes of presidential power but also into the personalities of the presidents themselves. Roosevelt can be heard trading chatty "off the record" stories with members of the press. Johnson is revealed as a master of arm-twisting and consensus-building (and in LBJ's world, these were often one and the same). One of Johnson's last requests to his secretary was that his recordings be destroyed. Luckily for history and for Johnson's legacy , they were preserved. Although the recordings reveal a more unguarded side of LBJ, they also reveal a more human side. Johnson seems like a genuinely likable man who actually wanted to do the right thing and knew how to get things done. Unfortunately, you can also hear the slow and almost imperceptible descent into the tragic quagmire of Vietnam. I honestly think if it weren't for Vietnam, Johnson would now be regarded as one of our greatest presidents. I think these recordings bear that out.
The Nixon recordings, on the other hand, reveal a president who - quite frankly - was a jerk. Where Johnson tried to build alliances, Nixon's tapes reveal him as paranoid, vengeful, short-tempered and petty. And those aren't even the tapes that deal with Watergate. Nixon doesn't come off well at all.
But those are just my opinions. The cool thing is you can go directly to the website and listen for yourself. If you're a history nerd, you'll love it!