The Right Coast

January 24, 2005
Did She or Didn't She? Now We'll Never Know for Sure
By Gail Heriot

In addition to Johnny Carson's, the other big obit today was that of Rose Mary Woods, loyal secretary to Richard Nixon. In a sense, Woods, like Carson, was a staple of American comedy. But it was a very different sense; she was the brunt of jokes about how she claimed that she had "accidentally" erased part of the White House tapes while trying to transcribe them. The conclusion at the time (and indeed of history) was that she had done it on purpose probably at her employer’s behest–a conclusion I subscribe to. But when I consider how many ridiculous mistakes I have made with my #^%$! computer over the last decade or so, I figure that I’d better be a little humble about that conclusion. Or as Oliver Cromwell is said to have put it in a somewhat different context, "I beseech you, in the bowels of Christ, think it possible you may be mistaken."