242. Editorial Note
First Lady Imelda Marcos made a trip to the United States in October 1971 and requested meetings with President Nixon and other high-level U.S. officials. The following excerpt is from the tape of a conversation between Chief of Staff H. R. Haldeman and President Nixon concerning that request and other matters. The conversation took place on October 19, 1971, from 10:55 a.m. to 12:14 p.m. in the Oval Office.
Haldeman: “Marcos, do you have to see her when she comes?
Nixon: “Oh, hell, I don’t know. I don’t really think so.
Haldeman: “What they’re [Department of State] suggesting is an option if you don’t see her.
Nixon: “Yeah. She’s here for what good?
Haldeman: “She’s here to try to assess the extent of U.S. Government support for she and her husband’s—her and her husband’s fight against communism in the Philippines is—
Nixon: “Oh, is she?
Haldeman: —“the way she puts it.
Haldeman: “He intends to retain control until communism is defeated, either by extending his term of office or having her replace him as President—
Haldeman: —“’til the end of his term.
Nixon: “I think I should stay out of it.
Haldeman: “He’ll have to revise the Constitution to do that.
Nixon: “What do they [Department of State] suggest?
Haldeman: “They say we should treat her with reserve. At the same time, we don’t want to give her cause to feel rebuffed. And I—
Nixon: “I think she’s got to be seen some way but I don’t—”
Nixon and Haldeman then agreed that the President would meet briefly with Mrs. Marcos. (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Material, White House Tapes, Recording of conversation between Nixon and Haldeman, Oval Office, Conversation No. 596–4)
Almost directly after his meeting with Mrs. Marcos, President Nixon met with Congressman Peter Frelinghuysen, Jr., from 12:16 p.m. to 12:45 p.m. in the Oval Office. The following excerpt is from that conversation:
Nixon: “Democracy isn’t easy. I was just talking to Mrs. Marcos in the Philippines. You know what they’re talking about now? Oh, they [Page 515]think that the Communist danger is so great that maybe, maybe—they may not—it may be in their interest to write their Constitution in a way that democracy could succeed itself without an election. And the Philippines, we [unclear] that’s American style democracy trying to make it work in Asia—
Frelinghuysen: “As I understand it—
Nixon: “It’s a hell of a problem, right?
Frelinghuysen: “It’s not easy.
Nixon: “And our people who take this high and mighty attitude about democracy and all [unclear] our thing, particularly that is. The Latins aren’t any good at it. In fact, the Anglos are the only people who are any good at democracy, the British and the Americans.” (Ibid., Conversation between Nixon and Frelinghuysen, Oval Office, Conversation No. 599–12) The editor transcribed the portions of the conversations printed here specifically for this volume.