|The Nixon Letters
Richard Nixon was presented with the 1 millionth copy of the Big
Book. It was presented by Dr. Jack Norris. A picture
of Dr. Norris presenting it to Nixon hangs on the wall at
Stepping Stones. Tom Pike, an early California AA member
sober since 1946 had arranged for this presentation.
Tom had served as Assistant Secretary of Defense and
Special Assistant to President Eisenhower.
When the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA)
authorized by the Hughes Act was created, Tom, along with Marty
Mann and others, was appointed to the NIAAA advisory committee,
and when his term ended he was replaced by his wife, Katherine.
During Watergate, Tom told me he had written a letter to
Nixon advising him to use the 12 steps, but not because of his
drinking. Both his letter to President Nixon, as well as
President Nixon's reply are included below.
February 1, 1974
President Richard M. Nixon
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
Dear Mr. President:
Your State of the Union speech delivered to Congress was
easily one of the finest I've heard you deliver. And
I've heard you make a lot of good ones since you took on
Jerry Voorhees in 1946 out here in the old 12th C.D.!
Your style, your appearance, your manner, and what you
said were confident,
strong, and impressive. You were every inch the leader
in full command of himself and the situation. Your whole
performance was one to inspire and rebuild the
confidence of all who heard you, even including the
Restoring the national confidence in the President is
the biggest task you have. No military, industrial, or
government leader can lead without this indispensable
ingredient of confidence. I remember when I was in the
White House in 1956 and 1958 trying to help Eisenhower
and Sherm Adams ward off
impending recession and stem a rising unemployment rate,
our overriding agenda item was how to restore citizens
and consumer confidence and optimism.
As your long time good friend and supporter, whose
faith, confidence, and affection is still strong today,
I would like to make a suggestion which I hope you will
consider seriously. You may think me presumptuous, but
as an old friend, I am willing to run that risk.
First, a bit of necessary background: it has been
established since time immemorial that admission of
fault is good for the soul and that to err human and to
forgive is divine. These are two principles found in
most of the world's religions, ancient and modern. They
are also used by modern psychiatrists and psychologists.
Not surprisingly, because these principles are basic to
the needs of man, they are also contained in the 12
steps of Alcoholics Anonymous which you can find in
Chapter 5 of the Big AA book we presented you in April
of last year at the White House. These 12 Steps are
forged from simple universal principles drawn from
religion and medicine. They constitute a program of
recovery that works!
I suggest that you substitute the word,
"Watergate" for "alcohol" in the
first step (which would then read "admitted we were
powerless over Watergate, and that our lives had become
unmanageable"). Then you should conscientiously
apply the rest of the 12 steps to your own situation. I
am confident such a course of personal action rigorously
followed, would ultimately resolve this difficult
dilemma for you and the country.
My prime suggestion: In whatever way you can, after
carefully studying Steps 4, 5, 6, and 7, put Step 10
into action: --"when we were wrong, promptly
I know it's late, and there are many complexities legal
and otherwise, but if you could somehow publicly admit
more fully the mismanagement of Watergate, I am
confident that you personally and the country will
experience relief, surcease, and new hope beyond your
fondest expectations. (See the attached Harris Poll clip
from today's Los Angeles Times on Public Compassion.)
And why? Simply because the country's President and its
citizens are both human and divine and have always
behaved and reacted like the creatures of God which
indeed they are. I believe most people know almost
instinctively that to be forgiven, they must forgive,
and who among us has not erred -- does not need
By using these principles, Len Firestone and Jonathan
Winters, Jim Kemper, and I have discovered the way out
of the baffling personal dilemma which nearly destroyed
You can too, Mr. President! If you would like to explore
this personally and in greater depth, please call on me.
Nothing would please me more.
Katherine's and my fervent prayer for you and Pat is
that God will make His will known to you and give you
the power to carry it out.
Thomas P. Pike.
P.S. You demonstrated good understanding on Step 11 when
you urged those
attending the prayer breakfast yesterday "to try
through prayer to find out what God wants America to be
rather than to ask Him always to see that what we
believe America to be prevails." Step 11:
"Sought through prayer and meditation to improve
our conscious contact with God as we understood Him,
seeking only for knowledge of His will for us and the
power to carry it out."
COMPASSION FOR NIXON
Chicago (UPI) -- Watergate developments have damaged
President Nixon's public esteem but they also are
evoking a sense of public compassion, according to the
latest survey by pollster Louis Harris. This was the
conclusion drawn when 56% of those queried agreed with a
statement that the President is "trying to do his
best in an almost impossible job." Only 38%
February 25, 1974
Before another day passes, I wanted you to know that I
received your very thoughtful letter of February 1. Many
times in the past I have had occasion to thank you, but
I must say once again how much it means to know I have
been able to count on the loyalty and understanding of
so many long-time friends.
I deeply appreciate your suggestions and the genuine
spirit of concern and goodwill in which they were made.
As you know, in several televised press
conferences I accepted responsibility along the lines
you discussed. Further, on a number of occasions
I have pledged my full cooperation to the Special
Prosecutor and to the Judiciary Committee so that the
investigations can be concluded, the guilty parties
brought to justice, and those innocent of any wrongdoing
may be cleared and, hopefully, have their good names and
reputations restored. However, I have also stated
that I will follow the precedent set by every other
United States President of never doing anything that
weakens the Office of the President or impairs the
ability of future Presidents to make the great decisions
that are so essential to this Nation and to the world.
This has been a difficult period not only for me
but for all Americans, and when this and related matters
are brought to a full and just resolution, I am
confident the majority of the American people will come
to understand that the trust they placed in me has not
In the meanwhile, it is a source of constant reassurance
to me to have the support of friends like Katherine and
you and to be included in your prayers. Pat joins me in
sending you both our warmest personal regards.
Mr. Thomas P. Pike
611 West Sixth Street
Los Angeles, California 90017.
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