|Richard Milhouse Nixon|
|Education:||Whittier College (B.A.)
Duke University (J.D.)
Ol' Tricky Dick
|Born||January 9, 1913|
|Died||April 22, 1994 (aged 81)|
"When the President does it, that means that it is not illegal."- Nixon sets the stage for Donald Trump
Before becoming President he was a notorious Redbaiter, distorting his Liberal opponents voting records to imply that they were secret Communists or Communist sympathizers. He worked on the House UnAmerican Activities Committee until he was elected Senator from California. He was selected to be the running mate of Dwight D. Eisenhower, the Republican nominee for President in 1952. Nixon became Vice President in 1953 and served until 1961. He also ran unsuccessfully in 1960 for president, losing to John F. Kennedy and unsuccessfully ran for Governor of California in 1962. Following these losses, Nixon announced his retirement from politics. This was either a lie or he changed his mind as in 1968 he ran again for president of the United States and was sadly elected.
One of the youngest Vice Presidents, Nixon loyally served Eisenhower for eight years from 1953 to 1961.
While traveling through Venezuela in 1958, several Venezuelans threw rocks at his VP limousine. While Nixon escaped unharmed, the attack on Nixon's car was called, at the time, the "most violent attack ever perpetrated on a high American official while on foreign soil".
Nixon proved he wasn't scared of the Russians when he boldly debated Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev in a Moscow trade fair on July 24, 1959. Called the Kitchen Debate, Nixon debated capitalism vs communism with Khrushchev. The debate took place in an exhibit that was filled with labor-saving and recreational devices meant to represent the fruits of the capitalist American consumer market. The debate was recorded on color videotape and Nixon made reference to this fact; it was subsequently rebroadcast in both countries. In 1960, his election team used the footage to show that he was tough on the communists.
"I pledge you this: That I shall put on a fighting campaign for the election of a fighting candidate for the presidency, Dwight D. Eisenhower."- Nixon accepts the nomination for GOP VPOTUS
By 1952, Nixon was a Senator of California. For the Democrats, incumbent President Harry Truman had decided he couldn't the win the 1952 election and dropped out, favoring Illinois Governor Adlai Stevenson and Alabama Senator John Sparkman.
During the Republican National Convention being held in Chicago in July 1952, Senator Nixon was informed he was being picked by the Republican presidential nominee, four-star general Dwight D. Eisenhower, to be his vice presidential running mate. The 40 year old Senator was viewed as acceptable to the old guard of the Robert Taft Republicans who had opposed Eisenhower's nomination. Taft Republicans were willing to unite with Eisenhower with Nixon as the Vice Presidential nominee. For them, he represented the hardcore Anti-Communists while not being the conspiratorial Joseph McCarthy. Nixon had to the one to "expose" Algier Hiss for his alleged role as a Soviet spy.
At the convention, Nixon accepted the Republican nomination for Vice President.
In August, with three months to the election, Nixon was invited to Eisenhower's Colorado retreat. The always serious Nixon thought this was a political campaign meeting, so he came to the retreat in a his typical suit. Nixon was caught off guard when he saw Eisenhower dressed in fly fishing clothes. Eisenhower was an experienced fly fisherman, while Nixon hadn't fly fished in his entire life. Nixon tried to go along with it, but ended up catching his hook on Eisenhower's vest.
Shortly after that, scandal struck with Nixon being at the head. On September 18, 1952, the New York Post published a headline about a secret Nixon fund. The paper indicated the young congressman was actually the tool of wealthy backers who were buying votes and influence. While the fund was perfectly legal, it went up against the Eisenhower team's theme of combating corruption. Eisenhower's inner circle talked about replacing Nixon with a running mate with a cleaner image. Eisenhower suggested to Nixon that he plead his case on television. Before the scheduled half-hour televised speech on September 23, Nixon got a phone call from one of Eisenhower's closest advisers. He was advised that he should resign from the ticket and not make the speech. Nixon furiously refused and went along with the speech. 60 million Americans watched the speech, including Eisenhower and his wife.
"My fellow Americans, I come before you tonight as a candidate for the Vice Presidency, and as a man whose honesty and integrity has been questioned."
Nixon laid out in many detail his family finances, such as they owned a $13,000 home and he only had $4,000 in life insurance. During the speech, he pointed to his wife Pat who was sitting nearby and spoke of how she didn't wear the clothes one would assume rich people wore but simple clothes that most middle class people wore. Then came what would turn him into a legend.
"One other thing I should probably tell you, because if I don't, they'll probably be saying this about me, too. we did get something-a gift-after the election. A man down in Texas heard Pat on the radio mention the fact that our two youngsters would like to have a dog. And, believe it or not, the day before we left on this campaign trip we got a message from Union Station in Baltimore saying they had a package for us. We went down to get it. You know what it was. It was a little cocker spaniel dog in a crate that he sent all the way from Texas. Black and white spotted. And our little girl-Trisha, the 6-year-old-named it Checkers. And you know the kids love the dog and I just want to say this right now, that regardless of what they say about it, we're gonna keep it."- Nixon names the Checkers speech
Further into the speech, in what can be considered foreshadowing, Nixon said he wasn't going to quit, because (ironically) he wasn't a quitter.
"I don't believe that I ought to quit, because I am not a quitter. Wire and write the Republican National Committee whether you think I should stay on or whether I should get off."
Unfortunately, Republican voters wanted to keep Nixon on the ticket. Returning to the campaign, Eisenhower stayed above the fray of the din of politics, while Nixon would throw the punches. Nixon didn't outright call Stevenson a communist, but he left votings questioning Stevenson.
Nixon exploited a weakness for Stevenson, his links to Alger Hiss, an alleged spy for the Soviet Union. "Let me emphasize that there is no question in my mind as to the loyalty of Mr. Stevenson. But the question is one as to his judgement, and it is a very grave question... In My opinion, his action, his statements, his record disqualify him from leading the United States and the Free Nation in the fight against Communism."
Nixon was a master of using innuendo to smear an opponent, something he taught the Republican Party of today. He wouldn't come out and flat out say someone was a spy. He would question their motives and leave a lingering doubt. Stevenson responded to this slander but saying that Nixon hadn't read the Ninth Commandment of the Bible, "Thou Shalt Not Bear False Witness".
Eisenhower and Nixon would go to defeat Stevenson and Alabama Senator John Sparkman.
While they were talks of replacing Nixon as vice president, Eisenhower and Nixon were renominated for president and vice president in 1952. They again faced Adlai Stevenson, but with Estes Kefauver for vice president instead. Once again they defeated Stevenson.
When the 1960 election came around, Nixon felt it was his time for the White House. Playing on his service as Vice President and basically saying voting for him was voting for a third Eisenhower term, Nixon was confident he'd win. He made a stupid pledge to visit all 50 states, which sapped his strength, one of the few advantages he had over the unhealthy Kennedy. During the election, the infamously-clumsy Nixon busted his knee on a car door...and was hospitalized with an infection for two weeks.
One other notch against Nixon was his poor press relations. The press loved Kennedy, but they didn't like Nixon. He did make an attempt though, as poor as it was. He had some press reporters gather at a hotel pool. He appeared at the pool, waved at them, jumped in, got out, waved and then went back to his hotel room. That was Nixon Press Relations... Yeah...
What Nixon did have going for him, besides his experience and link to the Eisenhower administration, Was THAT he was a Protestant (specifically a Quaker). Kennedy was Roman Catholic and in 1960, anti-Catholic bigotry was
at an all-time high.
Facing no opposition, Nixon easily won the Republican nomination, choosing then-UN ambassador Henry Cabot Lodge as his running mate. He started off the general election at the RNC by saying "When Mr. Khrushchev says our grandchildren will live under communism, let us say, his grandchildren will live in freedom."
Nixon hoped he could pulverize his Democratic opposition, Senator John F. Kennedy, in the first televised presidential debates. The debate was to be held at the CBS studio in Chicago on September 26, 1960. But Nixon made one mistake after another. Hours before the debate, Nixon had tried to rally a carpenters' union, which sapped more of his strength. Kennedy meanwhile was relaxing at a pool, conserving his energy. When Nixon arrived at the studio, he once again hit his knee on the car door. Already nervous and anxious, he now arrived in pain.
When offered makeup for the candidates. Kennedy declined, and Nixon wanting to look manly, also declined. Yet Kennedy disappeared to get makeup applied. Nixon had an assistant go to a drug store to buy him some after-shave for 70¢. Even in black and white coloring, Nixon's five o'clock shadow was still visible. Kennedy looked young, rested and calm. Nixon looked disheveled, awkward and nervous. After Kennedy made his opening argument, Nixon said he basically agreed with what Kennedy said he wanted for America but disagreed that the Eisenhower administration had gone slow or nowhere.
Those who watched the debates on television sided with Kennedy while radio listeners sided with Nixon. There were three more debates but many say the first debate decided the election.
Nixon didn't give up. When Martin Luther King Jr was arrested in Georgia after a sit-in, Nixon jumped at the opportunity to become a civil rights hero. Nixon was actually a friend of MLK while Vice President. This being before the 1960s party alignment shift, Nixon believed he had the support of black folks.
On October 19, 1960, three weeks before the election, Reverend King and 50 other black folks were arrested after refusing to leave their seats at whites-only department store lunch counters. In an attempt to sweep the black vote by securing King's release, Nixon called the White House. The Eisenhower administration refused to cooperate. Meanwhile, the Kennedys beat Nixon to the punch. JFK called Mrs. King and offered his support while his brother Bobby made phone calls pressuring for King's release. The release caused MLK's father, Martin Luther King Senior, who originally supported Nixon simply because Kennedy was Catholic, to switch his vote to Kennedy. A major shift of black votes went towards Kennedy.
During the last few weeks of the election, Nixon called on his old boss Dwight D. Eisenhower to support him. Eisenhower was beloved by Americans. On November 2, 1960, 6 days before the election, Ike and Dick held a massive parade. Ticker tape littered the streets and covered the two men as they waved at crowds. There was a surge for Nixon.
Nixon and his wife submitted their votes in California then decided to wait out the election in Mexico. He was gloomy, somehow predicting he was gonna lose. So he downed his anxiety with margaritas.
Even though Nixon won more states than Kennedy (26-22), including the usually crucial swing-states of Ohio and Florida, Kennedy got 303 electoral votes to Nixon's 219. The popular vote was closer. Kennedy got 49.72% to Nixon's 49.55%, less than half of a percent. Kennedy had beaten Nixon by the slimmest of margins. Although there were unconfirmed reports of electoral fraud by the Kennedy campaign,
Nixon refused to contest the election. Nixon conceded the election and "officially" didn't contest it, but had many States returns contested by proxies.
"When they look at you, they see what they wanna be. When they look at me, they see what they are."- Nixon to a portrait of JFK
There was a whole load of dirty tricks when Nixon was re-elected which got to be called, 'Watergate' and involved the break-in and bugging. While Nixon wasn't involved in the beginning, he covered it up when he realized it might help him win re-election in 1972.
He was caught.
The most common phrase in regards to Watergate is "Follow the money", from Deep Throat to reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein of The Washington Post. He could not have used Deep Throat as a cover in the 21st Century's childish social media today...
Nixon as president
Until the Trump Administration, Nixon was the only Republican President to have been actually prosecuted, or have prosecution begun against him. While he was corrupt, he did make some good achievements
- Introduced the EPA
- Lowered the voting age to 18 (26th Amendment)
- SALT Treaty signed with the Soviet Union
- Pursued reforms in welfare, healthcare, civil rights, energy, and environmental policy
- Title IX
- Expanded Medicare
- Had a plan to mandate employers giving health insurance as well as created government subsidies for self-employed/unemployed people
- He was humble in his 1960 defeat
- Ended the draft
- Decimated 70% of the national debt.
- Started the war on cancer.
- Affirmative action
- Worked to desegregate southern schools
- opened relations with China
- Nixon Shock
- US response to Arab-Israeli Conflict and Yom Kippur War
- 55mph Speed Limit.
- Supported West Pakistan's genocide against Bangladesh
- Introduced HMOs
- Used the Southern Strategy to elected.
- Committed obstruction of justice (sound familiar?)
- Had a drinking problem by the time he resigned (was literally talking to paintings)
- Believed homosexuality brought down the Roman Empire
- Lied under oath
- Illegal wiretapping of government buildings without court authorization
- Extremely corrupt, involved in dirty politics
- Pouring billions into the creation of the DEA and the (failed) War on Drugs
- Was kinda racist, probably sexist and definitely anti-Semitic
- Was extremely paranoid
- Was involved in the McCarthy Trials
- Instigated the 1973 Chilean coup d'état
- The Bombing of Cambodia
- Needlessly extending the conflict in Vietnam to get elected in 1968
- Sabotaged the Paris Peace talks over Vietnam
- Persecuted anti-war protesters
- Instituted wage and price controls
- One of the most authoritarian Presidents we’ve ever had (well... until Reagan, Bush Jr and Trump)
- Nearly impeached, but resigned and was then pardoned for his numerous crimes
During his second term in 1973, his Vice President Spiro Agnew resigned after criminal charges of Bribery, Tax evasion and money laundering from his term as Governor of Maryland. This showed the corruption of the Nixon administration and foreshadowed the news leak of the Watergate scandal. Nixon appointed Gerald Ford as Vice President as according to the 25th Amendment.
According to him, he was not a crook.
During his State of the Union address of January 30, 1974, after basically bragging of his accomplishments, Nixon called for an end to the Watergate investigations.
"I would like to add a personal word with regard to an issue that has been of great concern to all Americans over the past year. I refer, of course, to the investigations of the so-called "Watergate" affair. As you know, I have provided to the Special Prosecutor, voluntarily, a great deal of material. I believe that I have provided all the material that he needs to conclude his investigations and to proceed to prosecute the guilty and to clear the innocent. I believe the time has come to bring that investigation and the other investigations of this matter to end. One year of Watergate is enough."- January 30, 1974
After "Deep Throat"'s revelations of Nixon's corruption, Nixon learned the House of Representatives was beginning the impeachment process against him. Knowing he was doomed, he announced his resignation from office on August 8, 1974, resigning the next day. His successor, Gerald Ford, gave him an unconditional pardon for partisan reasons. This pardon cost Ford the election of 1976. It also set a precedent where Presidents are not to held accountable for their crimes.
- .The History Place, Impeachment of Richard Nixon For anyone wanting to learn about Watergate this is well worth reading.