Leonard Garment, hippest guy in Nixon's White House

Tuesday, August 23, 2016
Richard Nixon, Leonard Garment
(Click to hear interview)
For a kid growing up during the Watergate scandal, it was easy to imagine anyone associated with Richard Nixon's White House was detestable.

So you can imagine my surprise as I found myself charmed by a man who'd been a top legal adviser to Nixon during the darkest days of Watergate, Leonard Garment, who was promoting his autobiography, Crazy Rhythm: From Brooklyn and Jazz to Nixon's White House, Watergate, and Beyond.

In this 1997 interview with Garment, who died in 2013, you'll hear lots to like -- not the least of which was his affection for jazz. (As a young musician, he played with a man a later president, Ronald Reagan, would appoint to chair the U.S. Federal Reserve System, Alan Greenspan.)

You'll hear Garment recall the debate over what Nixon should have done about those incriminating Watergate tapes; you'll hear him describe how he explained the scandal to his teenage daughter; you'll get his perspective on the parallels between jazz and the law; you'll hear how Garment, Greenspan and the band sounded back in the day; and you'll learn how well his jazz chops held up in 1997 (playing my then-11-year-old son Ben's sax).

Most of all, you'll hear why I couldn't help but like the guy.



If you're into this sort of listening, check out my sessions with legendary White House correspondent Helen Thomas, Nixon confidant Monica Crowley and 1968 chronicler Jules Witcover.

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