Art Linkletter, who died May 26 at 97, was important not only for getting little kids to say the darndest things, but also as a crusader against the counterculture of the 1960s, and especially against drugs. Nixon appointed him an adviser on drug policy, and on May 8, 1971, Linkletter went to the White House and met with the president.
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.”
The next year, 1972, Linkletter announced that he had changed his position on marijuana. According to the New York Times, “After much thought and study he had concluded that the drug was relatively harmless.”