A bit late to this, but last month the Nation ran the following transcript of a meeting between Richard Nixon and the recently deceased Art Linkletter. Nixon’s racism is no secret, nor are the dubious origins of the modern drug war. Still, it’s a glimpse into how the last 40 years of particularly destructive drug prohibition policy was launched on little more than Nixon’s weird personal peccadilloes.
The transcripts show Linkletter telling Nixon, “There’s a great difference between alcohol and marijuana.”
Nixon replies: “What is it?” The president wants to know!
“When people smoke marijuana,” Linkletter explains, “they smoke it to get high. In every case, when most people drink, they drink to be sociable.”
“That’s right, that’s right,” Nixon says. “A person does not drink to get drunk. . . . A person drinks to have fun.”
Then Nixon turns to the global history of drinking and using drugs. “I have seen the countries of Asia and the Middle East, portions of Latin America, and I have seen what drugs have done to those countries,” he says. ”Everybody knows what it’s done to the Chinese, the Indians are hopeless anyway, the Burmese. . . . they’ve all gone down.”
Nixon continues, “Why the hell are those Communists so hard on drugs? Well why they’re so hard on drugs is because, uh, they love to booze. I mean, the Russians, they drink pretty good. . . . but they don’t allow any drugs.”
“And look at the north countries,” Nixon continued. “The Swedes drink too much, the Finns drink too much, the British have always been heavy boozers and all the rest, but uh, and the Irish of course the most, uh, but uh, on the other hand, they survive as strong races.”
Linkletter says “That’s right.”
Nixon comes to his main point about the “drug societies:” they “inevitably come apart.”
Linkletter adds, “They lose motivation. No discipline.”
Nixon gets the last word: “At least with liquor, I don’t lose motivation.”