And while Pat insisted to Woods that her husband should have ignored the ABA, and sent Lillie’s name to the Senate anyway, Julie and Tricia agreed with their dad that defeat was inevitable, and so to be avoided.
Like Ralph Kramden calling on Ed Norton, or Fred Flintstone commiserating with Barney Rubble, the president next phoned his friend, Attorney General John Mitchell.
“My wife is really put out,” Nixon said. “She is so goddamned mad.”
The attorney general, however, had problems of his own. His wife Martha—a notably outspoken woman—was raising hell in the Mitchell household.
“You think your wife is mad. My wife wouldn’t even talk to me,” Mitchell said. He had put the blame on the ABA too, to no avail. “That’s what I’m trying to tell Martha here for the last 20 minutes and I’m not getting across!”
In the taped conversations with Woods, Mitchell and his daughters, Nixon expressed great satisfaction with his choices of Rehnquist and Powell, and no great regret that Lillie failed to impress the ABA. Rehnquist and Powell would help steer the Supreme Court to the right, contributing to landmark decisions that changed the course of American history. They replaced more liberal Justices Hugo Black and John Marshall Harlan who, aged and ill, had retired in September.
“We really threw a bombshell at those [liberal] bastards” in Congress and the media, he told Mitchell.
And “make sure to emphasize to all the southerners that Rehnquist is a reactionary bastard, which I hope to Christ he is,” Nixon said, in a segment of the tape that has been previously opened.
There appears no evidence, in the newly released segments of the tapes, that Nixon had deceived Pat, or—as some historians and commentators have argued, and other tapes indicate—that he never really wanted a woman on the court.
In fact, from a sense of guilt or fairness, he is heard telling Mitchell, with seeming sincerity: “We’ve got to have a woman, John.”
“Tell Martha to calm down,” Nixon told his friend.