Mar 8, 2023
In Podcast 10, Nixon’s HUAC Subcommittee reacts skeptically to Hiss’s new George Crosley story. Hiss, like Captain Renault in Casablanca, is shocked, shocked that the Representatives would even think of taking the word of the Communist and traitor Chambers over that of a distinguished personage such as himself. Representative Hebert suggests that Hiss return to his first, helpful and respectful attitude. But Hiss blows him off — not a smart move with the only member of the Subcommittee who is of Hiss’s Party. Hiss then corroborates 90% of what Chambers had told the Subcommittee about his personal life 10-15 years earlier, including the prothonotary warbler and the hand operated windshield wipers on the old Ford. Nixon, now almost certain that Hiss is lying, orders Stripling to arrange a face-to-face meeting of the two men in secret the next day, to the complete surprise of both of them. Nixon wants to catch Hiss off guard and deny him more time to make his George Crosley tale fit the facts.
Further Research Episode 10: See references to Episode 9
Questions: If you believe, as I do, that Hiss is guilty, what is he to do at this stage? Do what he did — stick with the “innocent as the day is long” story (with the George Crosley variation) although it is obviously not convincing his current audience? Do you think, as one of his acquaintances did, that if he were innocent he would have gotten angry before this? If he had openly ‘lawyered up’ at this stage and refused to answer any more questions, would it have saved him any of the later traumas he endured? Or was he stuck with his original “innocent as the day is long” attitude? Before President Clinton admitted lying about Ms. Lewinsky, has any public figure denied everything indignantly, then changed his story by admitting wrongdoing, and ’gotten away with it’? It didn’t work for Governor Cuomo. What do you think of Representative Hebert telling Hiss ever so politely that HUAC is simply behaving as any competent investigator would? What did Hebert want Hiss to do? How stupid was Hiss to offend Hebert, the only member of his Party on the Subcommittee? How much of Hiss’s conduct at this stage is explained by his (in my opinion) arrogant belief that his IQ was so much higher than any of his interrogator’s that he could bluff his way around them?