Dumb but friendly: Good for a dog, not so much for a president

Richard Nixon on Fred Thompson.

Published October 9, 2007 3:44PM (EDT)

Just in time for Fred Thompson's GOP debate debut, ABC News has unearthed some vintage Richard Nixon commentary that fits in just a little too comfortably with the fast-emerging conventional wisdom on the man.

Thompson served as minority counsel to the Senate Watergate Committee, and it's in that context that Nixon says -- on tape, of course -- that he thought the young lawyer wasn't smart enough to go up against his Democratic counterpart, Sam Dash. "Dash is too smart for that kid," Nixon tells John Dean on one tape. On another, Nixon tells Alexander Haig that Thompson is "dumb as hell."

In June 1973, White House counsel Fred Buzhardt tells Nixon that the White House has developed "a pretty good rapport" with Thompson, who "came through fine for us this morning."

Nixon: "He isn't very smart, is he?"

Buzhardt: "Not extremely so, but --"

Nixon: "But he's friendly."

Buzhardt: "But he's, he's friendly."

Nixon: "Good."

By Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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