Black Like Me -Altered Photograph

Bob Halderman and I were discussing my credibility problem with colored...I mean "black" people. John Dean was in the room and decides at that moment to share with us that he is seeing a shrink. After his revelation was greeted with stunned silence I asked what his little confession had to do with my problem with the negroes. He said one word: "empathy". I had no idea what the hell he was talking about. The next thing I know he's pulling a book from his brief case. He lays it on my desk and slides it across the surface to me. I read the cover, Black Like Me. The book, written by some pinko reporter, tells the story of his adventures disguised as a black man. "Thanks John," I said nodding real slow like I was talking to a patient from Bellevue.

That night I'm sitting in the study just trying to unwind when Pat comes in prattling on about shopping. Before she gets too far into one of her inane stories, I grab Dean's book and start reading it. "Listen, Dear," I say, "I'd love to hear your story but I've got work to do." Of course that never stopped Pat before and in an effort to tune her out, I actually started reading the damn thing. I have to tell you the book surprised the hell out of me. Maybe Dean was onto something after all. Not that I was going to let that wacko know it.

The next day I shared some of the book's points with Bob. He smirked. "Now, just wait one minute fella," I told him. "You were the one telling me about my problem with black voters yesterday." He raised his hand to his mouth to conceal his smile. I couldn't help but love a brother that that moment. "What Bob?" I asked chuckling a bit myself. "Forgive me, Mr. President, but I just don't see you going out into the city disguised as a black man." Well, I'll admit he did have a point there.

I returned to the Oval Office late in the day and found a gift box on my desk with a card from Bob. It read, "I hope this helps you get into the right frame of mind. I opened it and well that damn joker went out and bought me an afro wig. I put the thing on my head and had a good laugh, but well...then my eyes filled with tears. Now, don't think ol' Dick Nixon was getting soft on you. It was probably just eye strain. Not that I want to take this too far but part of me—that kid who had been always on the outside— I think he understood what that guy in the book was talking about. And if that was the case maybe I understood black people more than I realized.