307. Memorandum From the Executive Assistant (Hastings) to the Under Secretary of State (Richardson)1
- Harry Dent
I had a little ol’ southern lullaby chat with Harry Dent last night. Off the record and all that, his observations may be summarized as follows:
The President is very down on this Department and is continuously peppering his chats with his confidants with barbs aimed here. He stated in a recent staff meeting that the entire Department of State had opposed his trip but that he brought off a great success despite State’s opposition. HAK was at his side during this conversation, smiling broadly.
I noted, with a similar clandestine tone, that with the President’s permission you had briefed our senior officers on the President’s views about his trip2 and that this presentation was very well received. I also noted that you had made a strong pitch re cooperation with Presidential objectives, once set, and re an aggressively cooperative and forthcoming approach toward implementation of Presidential policies, once made.
I also pointed out that the President’s impression of total State opposition to the trip wasn’t fair or accurate. While there may have been some instances of backsliding, cooperation on the whole had been there. We speculated then as to the source (or at least one source) of the President’s impression.
Dent indicated that the President, Rogers Morton and he had all made pitches at the Camp David cabinet meeting re the need for more loyal Nixon men in high office. Why hadn’t WPR ever gotten the message that by not making greater changes and by not bringing in more new loyalists, he was simply ensuring HAK dominance? Dent thought that the HAK situation would be intolerable to Secretary Rogers. Nixon needed greater confidence in the Department as a whole and more new faces was a strong step in that direction.[Page 688]
Dent was taking a lot of flak about Nixon’s sell-out on his promise to clean house here. This flak, which also hits Morton and surely gets to the President, tended only to reinforce Nixon’s aversion to the Department as is.
I promised to get to Dent a little fact sheet on our turnover, our new faces, our non-career ambassadors (including Strausz-Hupe) and our redemption of Nixon’s pledge by our personnel reform efforts. He said that he and Rogers Morton could use this to rebut the flak.
- Reports on you personally continued to be very high, “even from HAK staff members.”