WASHINGTON — Richard M. Nixon says that a most unfortunate disclosure during Watergate was that he used foul language in the Oval Office. Other Presidents also swore, he says, "but none of them had the bad judgment to have it on tape."
Most people swear at one time or another, he says, "but since neither I nor most other Presidents had ever used profanity in public, millions were shocked. I have heard other Presidents use very earthy language in the Oval Office."
Nixon says this in "In the Arena," a book summing up his life.
The seventh book he has published since resigning the Presidency in 1974 is the most personal statement of how he has come to feel at peace with himself. "Only when you have been in the depths can you truly appreciate the heights," he says.
At the height of the Watergate scandal, in April, 1974, Nixon released a 1,300-page volume of transcripts of secretly taped conversation. They were heavily edited to put private comments in the most favorable light and are especially remembered for hundreds of designations, "expletive deleted."
Later when the blanks were filled in, Nixon's heavy use of barnyard language was laid bare. For example, instructing aide John Dean, he said "I don't give a shit what happens. I want you all to stonewall it." At another meeting he told Dean and former Atty. Gen. John N. Mitchell, "The point is, get the goddamn thing over with."
The 369-page book is to be published by Simon & Schuster on May 2.
The Nixon in the book, at 77, is a more mellow Nixon than he previously showed himself to be. For instance, he says kind things about journalists: "I could not possibly have gone as far as I did in the political arena without having the benefit of some balanced as well as negative coverage."
Nixon says his wife, Pat, had better political instincts than he did.
"She urged me not to run for governor of California," he says. "She was right." Nixon lost that race in 1962, two years after he lost the presidency to John F. Kennedy, and snarled at reporters, "You won't have Nixon to kick around any more because, gentlemen, this is my last press conference."