Obituary New York Times

Document Sample
Obituary New York Times Powered By Docstoc
					Obituary – New York Times
The 37th President; In Three Decades

To millions of Americans, Richard Milhous Nixon was the most puzzling and fascinating
politician of his time. He was a man of high intelligence and innovative concepts whose
talents, especially in international affairs, were widely respected by both friend and foe.
Yet he was so motivated by hatreds and fears that he abused his powers and resorted to
lies and cover-ups.

Almost constantly in the public eye from the time he entered politics in 1946, he
propelled himself into a career that culminated a generation later when he became the
first President to travel to Communist China and the first to resign from office. Over the
decades, he evoked conflicting emotions among millions of Americans.

Many felt an intense dislike for him on the ground that he rose to power through what
they regarded as demagoguery and defamation of his opponents. But among many others
he inspired an intense loyalty, particularly among those who identified with his humble
beginnings and with his hostility toward intellectuals, liberals, socialists and others he
regarded as archenemies.

Mr. Nixon wore his hatreds on his sleeve, and some of the most revealing information
about his character and motivations came from his friends and associates. 'Richard Nixon
went up the walls of life with his claws,' said Bryce Harlow, one of his Presidential aides.

His career, driven by such tenacity, was a tumultuous roller-coaster ride of victory, crisis,
defeat, revival, triumph, ruin and, in later life, re-emergence as an elder statesman of the
world who traveled widely, wrote copiously and offered advice freely.

'No one,' he told an interviewer in 1990, 'had ever been so high and fallen so low.'

Mr. Nixon's political life spanned the cold war. He began in politics as an ardent anti-
Communist, and he spent his last years crusading for American political support and
financial aid to Boris N. Yeltsin's Russia.

A Resignation, Not a Confession

Mr. Nixon never received the honors and accolades he would have earned had he not
resigned the Presidency in the face of certain impeachment for the cover-up of a cheap
political burglary of Democratic offices in the Watergate complex and other illegal acts
of domestic espionage, all documented by Oval Office tape recordings.
Still, he never confessed to the 'high crimes and misdemeanors' of which he was accused
in articles of impeachment, which were approved by the House Judiciary Committee and
which precipitated his resignation in 1974.

'When the President does it, that means it is not illegal,' he told David Frost in a
celebrated television interview three years after he was pardoned by his successor, Gerald
R. Ford.

So strong was the stigma of the Watergate scandals that it tended to obscure Mr. Nixon's
accomplishments. In foreign affairs these included establishing relations with Communist
China, initiating detente and nuclear arms control treaties with the Soviet Union, and
opening the way for Egypt to break with the Soviet bloc (and subsequently to make peace
with Israel).

In the domestic arena, his record appears better through the prism of subsequent events,
some scholars say, than it did at the time. In his Administration, an expansion of the food
stamp program went a long way toward stamping out hunger in America. The
Environmental Protection Act authorized vast resources and regulations for cleaning the
country's air, land and water.

In fact, many of the Government regulations and expenditures for social programs that
Ronald Reagan cut when he became President in 1981 were the products of the Nixon
Administration rather than of the Democratic Presidents Mr. Reagan blamed.

Perhaps more important was Mr. Nixon's reshaping of the Supreme Court through his
appointment of a Chief Justice and three Associate Justices. He appointed candidates for
their ideological persuasion, particularly on such issues as judicial restraint, tough law
enforcement and relaxation of school desegregation rules. As a result, the nine-member
Court was transformed from the 'liberal Warren Court' to a body that was often split on
the great issues of the day but more attuned to conservative causes.

A Push for Peace, A Bungled Burglary

Yet his accomplishments were marred to some extent by his methods, his motives and his
ambiguities. Carrying out the 'peace with honor' agreement to end the long divisive war
in Southeast Asia took five years from the time he was elected to office on a peace
pledge, years in which American society was scarred by riots and rebellions against the
efforts to force peace through bombings and incursions into new territory.

By the end of 1968, 30,610 Americans and untold Vietnamese had died in the war; over
the next five years another 27,557 Americans and even more Vietnamese died. The men
who negotiated the peace, Henry A. Kissinger and Le Duc Tho, were selected for the
Nobel Peace Prize; Mr. Tho declined.

In all matters Mr. Nixon centralized power in himself and a few aides in the White House
and sought to broaden the authority of the executive branch at the expense of Congress
and the courts. He tried to use the bureaucracy against political foes. He entered his
second term by interpreting his crushing defeat of George McGovern as a mandate to
scale back domestic government, even though some of the programs involved grew out of
the first Nixon term. But that effort was barely under way early in 1973 when the
Watergate disclosures weakened him.

Watergate in its broadest sense -- not only the burglary of Democratic headquarters and
subsequent effortsat a cover-up, but also the corruption of Federal agencies for illegal
purposes -- had such an impact on politics and government that it remains a promontory
on the landscape of American history.

In Watergate's wake Congress passed a proliferation of legislation intended to restore
ethics to elections and government, to make government more open to the public, and to
restrain agencies from abusing individual rights at home and abroad.

Citizens seemed to be so offended by Watergate that for several years they voted heavily
against candidates of Mr. Nixon's party whether or not they had anything to do with the
scandals. A result, Democrats swept Congress in 1974 and Jimmy Carter was elected
President in 1976. The contest between Mr. Carter and President Ford was so close that
many students of politics believed Mr. Ford would have won had he not pardoned Mr.
Nixon, an act that prevented the kind of criminal prosecution that sent many Nixon aides
to prison.

It was Mr. Nixon's personality and character that most caught the attention of Americans
as, always accompanied by controversy, he went from Southern California to the House
of Representatives, to the Senate, to the White House as Dwight D. Eisenhower's Vice
President, to the Presidency, and to private citizen as the first President to have resigned
the office. In years between, he was defeated in a race for the Presidency by John F.
Kennedy in 1960 and, two years later, in a bid for Governor of California by Edmund G.
(Pat) Brown.

No public figure had been more observed, discussed and psychoanalyzed in public, yet
few professed to understand him.

'Though he was a remote and private man, we had all been drawn into his life story,'
Garry Wills, author of 'Nixon Agonistes,' wrote after the resignation. 'Decade by decade,
crisis by crisis, we were unwilling intruders on his most intimate moments -- we saw him
cry, sweat, tremble, saw him angry, hurt, vindictive. The tapes even let us eavesdrop on
those embarrassing conversations. Although no one really knew him, we all knew too
much about him. He was too vividly present, and yet not present at all -- a collection of
quirks, and not a person; a conspicuous absence.'

On another level, there were those who asserted that the apparent Nixon enigma stemmed
not from his character but from his fruitless efforts as President to persuade the people to
take a more pragmatic view of government, particularly in foreign affairs, a view that
neither the right nor left was quite prepared to adopt.
Calling the Nixon era 'a golden age of diplomacy,' William Tucker, a writer and
magazine editor, wrote in 1981: 'The Nixon approach was always hated by the far left
and far right -- groups that despite doctrinal differences see the world in terms of absolute
right and wrong. The right hated Nixon because he had abandoned the anti-Communist
cause; the left was unforgiving of the former Richard Nixon, and resentful because he
turned out to be such a constructive diplomat. Watergate had little to do with it.'

Americans did not know who Richard Nixon was in part because he had no fixed
ideology, no particular place on the political spectrum. He was a loner who had no lasting
alliances with other prominent Republican leaders. At one time or another he was at
cross-purposes with Dwight Eisenhower, Barry Goldwater, Nelson Rockefeller, Ronald
Reagan, Earl Warren and others.

His life was a series of contradictions. He preached the Protestant ethic of hard work and
moral living and was prim in dress and manner. Yet the White House tapes that came to
light in the Watergate investigation, as well as the testimony of some of his associates,
showed that he could be profane, amoral and power-driven.

A Faith of Peace, A Policy of Force

Reared as a Quaker, Mr. Nixon said he was strongly influenced by that faith of peace and
contemplation. Yet he considered politics combat and election campaigns an 'arena.' A
foundation of his foreign policy was to appear ready to use military force anywhere in the

Like Lincoln and Jackson, he identified with the common people, siding with 'middle
America' against the well-to-do. But his own style of living was extravagant, with two
expensive homes in California and Florida subsidized by wealthy friends and the Federal

He entered the White House promising to decentralize authority but almost immediately
consolidated it in himself and a few aides at the expense of his Cabinet.

He invited crises and, until the Watergate scandals closed in, thrived on them, but he felt
depressed after a victory, as he wrote in his book 'Six Crises.'

He entered politics by falsely branding his opponent for a House seat as an ally of
Communists and their sympathizers. Yet as President he opened relations with the
Communist Government of China and established a rapport with Soviet and other
Communist-bloc leaders that no previous President had achieved.

Some Nixon observers have sought to explain him as an early practitioner of 'the new
politics,' in which the dominant ingredients are a weak party structure and the mass
appeal of television.
California set the trend. There, Mr. Nixon was able to run for Congress without working
his way up through party ranks, as was the custom in most other states in 1946.

Six years later, Mr. Nixon discovered in his celebrated 'Checkers' speech that on
television he could move audiences without being subjected to questions and checking of
his facts. Thereafter, he used television whenever he could and became a master of the
controlled broadcast that conveyed the image he desired.

None of this, however, explains Richard Nixon. He was a man of enormous complexity.
Many volumes have been written about him in an effort to penetrate his core. He himself
provided the best clues.

'They'll Never Give Us Credit'

Kenneth W. Clawson was communications director for Mr. Nixon and a loyalist who
stayed with him to the end. Shortly after Mr. Nixon resigned and returned to San
Clemente, Calif., he sent for Mr. Clawson, who had grown up in Appalachia and admired
the Nixon style and determination.

Mr. Clawson found 'the Old Man' depressed and nursing a bout of phlebitis, his legs
propped on his desk.

'They'll never give us credit,' he said to Mr. Clawson, who wrote of the conversation in
The Washington Post in 1979. 'Even now they try to stomp us, you know, kick us when
we're down. They'll never let up, never, because we were the first threat to them in years.
And, by God, we would have changed it all, changed it so they couldn't have changed it
back in a hundred years, if only . . .'

There was no explanation of who 'they' were, and no need for one. They were the liberals,
the intellectuals, journalists, those born to privilege, the anti-Nixon people in his own
party, those Mr. Nixon had counted as his enemies over many years.

'What starts the process, really, are the laughs, slights and snubs when you are a kid,' Mr.
Nixon said. 'Sometimes it's because you are poor, or Irish or Jewish or Catholic or ugly or
simply that you are skinny. But if you are reasonably intelligent and if your anger is deep
enough and strong enough, you learn you can change those attitudes by excellence,
personal gut performance, while those who have anything are sitting on their fat butts.

'Once you learn that you've got to work harder than anybody else, it becomes a way of
life as you move out of the alley and on your way. In your own mind you have nothing to
lose, so you take plenty of chances, and if you do your homework many of them pay off.
It is then you understand, for the first time, that you really have the advantage because
your competitors can't risk what they have already. It's a piece of cake until you get to the
top. You find you can't stop playing the game the way you've always played it because it
is a part of you and you need it as much as an arm and a leg.'
Patting his swollen leg, he added: 'So you are lean and mean and resourceful, and you
continue to walk on the edge of the precipice because over the years you have become
fascinated by how close to the edge you can walk without losing your balance. This time
there was a difference. This time we had something to lose.'

That short conversation provides a thread that ran through Mr. Nixon's entire life, a life
lived on the precipice and, for the most part, sustained by skill, determination and a good
bit of luck.


Quaker Church, Football Field, Role in War, Taste of Politics The future President was
born Jan. 9, 1913, in Yorba Linda, Calif., then a farming community of 200 people near
Los Angeles. His ancestors on both sides were farmers, artisans and tradesmen who came
to America from Ireland in the 18th century.

Francis Anthony Nixon, Richard's father, was born on a farm in Ohio, left home at the
age of 14 to earn a living and arrived in California several years later, in 1907. He found
a job as a trolley-car motorman in the Quaker community of Whittier, where he met
Hannah Milhous, whose family had come there from Indiana in 1897. Frank and Hannah
were married in 1908.

After working in his father-in-law's orchards and in several other jobs, Frank bought a
general store and filling station in 1922. Richard was the second of five sons.

'It was not an easy life, but it was a good one,' Richard Nixon recalled in his memoirs,
'centered around a loving family and a small, tight-knit Quaker community.'

Childhood friends of Mr. Nixon's said he rarely smiled. In 'The Presidential Character,'
published in 1972, James David Barber cited a 'lifelong propensity for feeling sad about
himself, with his Duke Law School roommate's observation that 'he never expected
anything good to happen to him, or to anyone else close to him, unless it was earned.' '

He daydreamed of faraway places; worked hard at winning good grades in school;
lectured his brothers to be more conscientious; played football with zest even though he
was not good at it; pursued music, acting and debating and competed for leadership
positions in school, and went four times a week to a strict Quaker church.

He was close to death and illness at an early age. A younger brother, Arthur, died of
tubercular encephalitis when Richard was 12. When Richard was 20, his older brother,
Harold, died of tuberculosis after a 10-year illness that drained the family resources.

At the age of 3, Richard toppled from a horse-drawn buggy, and the wheel ran over his
head, inflicting a deep gash in his scalp that left an ugly scar.
'Out of his childhood Nixon brought a persistent bent toward life as painful, difficult, and,
perhaps as significant, uncertain,' Mr. Barber wrote.

Some students of his career concluded that as an adult, Mr. Nixon would make his
investment in life not in values but in managing himself so he could accomplish his next
goal. And in the process, he was not as enigmatic as he was often pictured. Rather, his
behavior was consistent with his view of the world and was perhaps more predictable
than that of most politicians.

After he had become famous and served as Vice President, his mother was asked if her
son had changed over the years.

'No,' she replied. 'He has always been exactly the same. I never knew a person to change
so little.'

The Upward Ladder: Fighting to Win

After graduation from high school, the young Nixon wanted to go to Harvard or Yale.
But there was no money for that. So he stayed four more years in the community he
wished desperately to escape and entered Whittier College. There he sharpened his
debating talents, was elected president of the freshman class and of the student body for
three years, and took acting lessons.

But it was his football coach, Wallace Newman, who influenced him the most. 'I admired
him and learned more from him than any man I have ever known aside from my father,'
Mr. Nixon said.

In his memoirs he said of Mr. Newman, 'He had no tolerance for the view that how you
play the game counts more than whether you win or lose. He used to say, 'Show me a
good loser and I'll show you a loser.' '

Graduating from Whittier second in his class, Mr. Nixon won a scholarship to the Duke
University Law School in Durham, N.C. There, he was so short of spending money that
he spent most of his time in study. He was elected president of the Duke Bar Association
and graduated third in his class.

Mr. Nixon tried to get a job in one of the big New York law firms, particularly Sullivan
& amp; Cromwell, but he received no encouragement. The Federal Bureau of
Investigation also turned him down. He went back to California and was admitted to the
bar in November 1937; he almost immediately joined the firm of Wingert & amp;
Bewley in Whittier.

In his spare time, he became active in civic groups, taught Sunday school and acted in a
little theater group. It was in the theater that he met Thelma Catherine Ryan, called Pat
because she was born March 16, a day before St. Patrick's Day, in 1912. When they met,
she was teaching typing and shorthand at Whittier High School. They were married two
years later, June 21, 1940, in a Quaker ceremony.

When the United States entered World War II in 1941, Mr. Nixon took a job in
Washington as a lawyer with the Office of Price Administration, an experience he loathed
and would cite in later years as evidence of the failure of government bureaucracy. After
seven months he applied for and was granted a Navy commission. He became an
operations officer with the South Pacific Combat Air Transport Command, charged with
establishing cargo bases.

A Politician Is Born, Midwifed by Committee

At war's end he was surprised to receive a letter from a committee of California
Republicans asking if he was interested in running for Congress.

Although there had been little indication that Mr. Nixon had wanted to make politics his
career, he jumped at the chance. The five-term incumbent was Jerry Voorhis, a liberal in
the Truman tradition who had voted for Federal control of tidelands oil and had worked
for cheap credit and for public power; the conservatives of Southern California wanted
him out.

Mr. Nixon returned to California and, in competing with other candidates for the
committee's endorsement, said the issues would be 'New Deal government control in
regulating our lives' versus 'individual freedom and all that initiative can produce.'

'I hold with the latter viewpoint,' he said. 'I believe that returning veterans, and I have
talked to many of them in the foxholes, will not be satisfied with a dole or a Government
handout.' That Mr. Nixon had little opportunity for contact with servicemen in the
foxholes was not important; he demonstrated a political ability to say what his audience
wanted to hear. He won the committee's endorsement and the primary.

But when the campaign for the 1946 general election began, Mr. Nixon was far behind
his opponent. To overcome that, he developed a technique he would use time and again:
discredit your opponent.

Mr. Nixon issued a statement billing himself as a 'clean, forthright young American who
fought for the defense of his country in the stinking mud and jungles of the Solomons'
while his opponent 'stayed safely behind the front in Washington.'

This was coupled with another statement saying he represented no special interest or
pressure group and adding, in reference to the Political Action Committee of the
Congress of Industrial Organizations: 'I welcome the opposition of the PAC with its
Communist principles and huge slush fund.'

Mr. Voorhis's defense, that the PAC had not endorsed him and that it was not
Communist, did not deter Mr. Nixon, and when he arrived in Washington at the age of
34, Representative Nixon received a cold shoulder from some members of Congress who
believed he had unseated a colleague unfairly.

The slight did not escape the notice of Mr. Nixon, who was already beginning to see
himself confronted by enemies.

Fame and Alger Hiss, Politics and the Pink Lady

It was the Alger Hiss case that made Richard Nixon a national celebrity.

In August 1948, Mr. Hiss, a highly regarded former State Department official, was
accused by Whittaker Chambers, a former Communist and then a senior editor at Time
magazine, of having given Mr. Chambers secret Government documents for delivery to
the Soviet Union in 1937 and 1938. Mr. Hiss denied the charges before the House
Committee on Un-American Activities and swore he did not know 'a man named
Whittaker Chambers.' Because of Mr. Hiss's excellent credentials and Government
record, the matter might have been dropped had Mr. Nixon not doggedly pursued it as
head of a special subcommittee.

Mr. Hiss finally acknowledged that he had known Mr. Chambers as 'George Crosley,' a
freelance writer he had befriended in the 1930's. He continued to deny, however, that he
had been a Communist or had passed secret documents.

After Mr. Hiss filed a libel suit against Mr. Chambers, the rumpled, rotund editor
produced from a pumpkin on his Maryland farm five rolls of microfilm of documents that
he said had been passed to him by Mr. Hiss. They led to Mr. Hiss's indictment on a
charge of perjury, and after two trials he was convicted in 1950.

The episode was an embarrassment to Democrats who had defended Mr. Hiss. Mr. Nixon
won wide praise for his persistence and astuteness in the case, but he emphasized the
enemies he made.

'The Hiss case proved beyond any reasonable doubt the existence of Soviet-directed
Communist subversion at the highest levels of American government,' Mr. Nixon wrote
in his memoirs. 'But many who had defended Hiss simply refused to accept the
overwhelming evidence of his guilt. Some turned their anger and frustration on me.'

The Hiss case made Richard Nixon famous, but it also turned him, he wrote, 'into one of
the most controversial figures in Washington, bitterly opposed by the most respected and
influential liberal journalists and opinion makers of the time.'

In 1950, Senator Sheridan Downey, a Democrat, unexpectedly chose to retire. Mr. Nixon,
who had had his eye on the Senate seat for a couple of years, was supported by major
California newspapers and was unopposed in the Republican primary. The Democrats,
however, were split in a bitter primary contest in which Representative Helen Gahagan
Douglas emerged the winner to face Representative Nixon.
Mrs. Douglas was a former Broadway and motion picture actress who was married to the
actor Melvyn Douglas. She was a popular liberal, a Fair Dealer who had enthusiastically
supported the Truman program.

From the beginning Mr. Nixon set out to discredit his opponent's loyalty to the American
system. He distributed more than half a million pink fliers that said in part:

'During five years in Congress, Helen Douglas has voted 353 times exactly as has Vito
Marcantonio, the notorious Communist party-line Congressman from New York. How
can Helen Douglas, capable actress that she is, take up so strange a role as a foe of
Communism? And why does she when she has so deservedly earned the title of 'the pink

In fact, Mrs. Douglas was denounced by pro-Communist groups as a 'capitalist
warmonger,' and it was in this campaign that Mr. Nixon was first called 'Tricky Dick,' an
epithet bestowed by The Independent Review in an editorial and picked up by Mrs.
Douglas in her campaign.

The extreme charges against Mrs. Douglas turned out to be overkill: Mr. Nixon won the
race by 680,000 votes. But the campaign would supply Democrats with anti-Nixon
ammunition for years to come.


A Young Man And a War Hero: A G.O.P Ticket With Balance

It seemed strange to some that Dwight Eisenhower, a war hero running for President as a
moderate, picked Richard Nixon as his running mate in 1952. But politically it made

Eisenhower was reputed within the party to be the candidate of the 'Eastern liberal
establishment.' He needed someone from the West or Middle West who could appeal to
disappointed conservatives.

Further, the retired general knew, as Mr. Nixon later wrote, 'that to maintain his above-
the-battle position he needed a running mate who was willing to engage in all-out combat
and who was good at it.'

And in many ways Mr. Nixon himself projected a moderate image as a spokesman
against corruption in government. At 39, he was young, bright and an effective speaker.

He first caught the attention of Eisenhower supporters in addressing a Republican dinner
in New York three months before the nominating convention. Former Gov. Thomas E.
Dewey of New York, twice the party's Presidential nominee and Eisenhower's chief
backer, was reported to have told Mr. Nixon after his speech: 'Make me a promise. Don't
get fat, don't lose your zeal, and you can be President some day.'
A Speech About Checkers, A Spot Secured

The 1952 campaign was barely under way when, on Sept. 18, a sudden crisis loomed.
The New York Post and other newspapers disclosed that 78 wealthy California
businessmen had quietly raised a fund of $18,235 to defray political expenses for Senator

Although establishment of such a fund would later seem mild, the news at the time
stunned much of the country. Many Democrats and some Republicans, including
Eisenhower's closest advisers, demanded that Mr. Nixon resign from the ticket on ethical

Eisenhower himself was silent for several days, finally saying only: 'Nothing's decided.
Nixon has got to be clean as a hound's tooth.' Each wanted the other to make the decision.
After Mr. Nixon told the general by telephone that it was time for the head of the ticket to
make a decision, the Eisenhower people were convinced that Mr. Nixon had to go. But
the general gave him the opportunity to state his case on national television.

By any measure, his defense was a virtuoso performance. He maintained that he had done
nothing wrong, disclosed his mortgages and other financing to show he was in fact in
debt, attacked Communism and asked people to tell the Republican National Committee
whether they thought he should resign.

His most moving, and best remembered, remarks were in reference to his wife and a dog
named Checkers.

'Pat and I have the satisfaction that every dime that we've got is honestly ours,' he said. 'I
should say this -- that Pat doesn't have a mink coat. But she does have a respectable
Republican cloth coat.'

Then he said a man in Texas had given the family a cocker spaniel, 'black and white and

'And our little girl, Tricia, 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 do about
it, we're going to keep it.'

Public response was overwhelmingly pro-Nixon. Eisenhower asked him to meet him on
the campaign trail in Wheeling, W.Va. When the Nixon plane landed, the general hopped

'General, you didn't need to come out to the airport,' the surprised Mr. Nixon said.

'Why not,' said the general, flashing his famous grin, 'You're my boy.'
After the Republican victory, Mr. Nixon turned out to be an active Vice President under a
President who preferred to operate quietly. President Eisenhower was willing to delegate
more tasks than most of his predecessors, and the energetic Mr. Nixon had a knack of
keeping himself in the limelight, no manner how menial the assignment


Probably his most important role was in foreign affairs. He visited 56 countries as a
good-will envoy, but, more important, he served on the National Security Council, at the
heart of policy decisions and intelligence. He was close to Secretary of State John Foster
Dulles, whose policy of 'brinksmanship' fit perfectly with Mr. Nixon's idea of bold and
even risky actions abroad.

Mr. Nixon's travels abroad generated far more news than most trips by Vice Presidents.
Unlike most, he was not content to engage in ceremony and quiet diplomacy. He invited
crowds to engage him in dialogue, however tense relations might be between their
country and his.

Thus Mr. Nixon's 1958 trip in South America turned out to be one of the 'Six Crises' he
would recall in his book. He managed sessions of crowd-mingling and argumentative
discussion in Venezuela and Argentina with few problems. But in Peru crowds of
students and others had been worked into an anti-Yankee, anti-Nixon frenzy by speakers
and signs.

'Are You Afraid Of the Truth?'

When a rock thrown from a crowd in Lima grazed the Vice President's neck and hit a
Secret Service agent in the teeth, Mr. Nixon shook his fist at the crowd and asked, 'Are
you afraid to talk to me? Are you afraid of the truth?' He leapt onto the trunk of his car
shouting: 'Cowards! Are you afraid of the truth?'

In a later confrontation someone spat in his face. 'I felt an almost uncontrollable urge to
tear the face in front of me to pieces,' he wrote later. 'I at least had the satisfaction of
planting a healthy kick on his shins. Nothing I did all day made me feel better.'

Such confrontations paid off in public acclaim. On his return to the United States, he was
greeted by cheering crowds as a conquering hero


And there was the celebrated 'kitchen debate' with the Soviet leader, Nikita S.
Khrushchev, while Mr. Nixon was on a trip to Moscow in 1959 to open an American
exhibit at a fair. In the kitchen of a model home, the two leaders engaged in a folksy
dialogue on the relative merits of the capitalist and Soviet systems.
The two men stood jowl to jowl, the Soviet leader occasionally jabbing Mr. Nixon's chest
for emphasis. The outcome was inconclusive, of course, but Mr. Nixon won acclaim at
home for the forceful manner in which he defended the American system.

There were also attacks from his opponents. Frequent Herblock cartoons in The
Washington Post showed him with a shadowy, hateful face; some showed him climbing
out of a sewer to give a campaign talk. The Duke faculty voted 61 to 42 against giving
Mr. Nixon an honorary degree.

Richard Nixon could never give up politics, however. He had tasted power and the
excitement of living on the precipice, and he liked it. Pat Nixon, though she would still
try to persuade him to retire from politics, resigned herself year after year to 'another


One Ballot, Four Debates, Two Defeats, And a Recovery

After the Eisenhower-Nixon ticket won again in 1956 by a wide margin, defeating Adlai
E. Stevenson for a second time, Mr. Nixon groomed himself for the 1960 Presidential
nomination. A rival, Gov. Nelson A. Rockefeller of New York, abandoned his efforts
after Mr. Nixon's popularity shot up in the wake of the 'kitchen debate.'

The Republicans nominated Mr. Nixon on the first ballot at their convention in Chicago.
Trying to appeal to the 'Eastern establishment,' he chose Henry Cabot Lodge of
Massachusetts as his running mate. The Democratic ticket was Senator John F. Kennedy
of Massachusetts and Senator Lyndon B. Johnson of Texas.

The campaign went badly from the beginning. For the first time in his career, Mr. Nixon
was on the defensive, forced to defend the Eisenhower record and to erase his reputation
as an unfair campaigner.

Eisenhower, who had always had trouble embracing Mr. Nixon, did not help. At a news
conference he was asked for an example of a major idea of Mr. Nixon's that had been
adopted by the Administration. 'If you give me a week, I might think of one,' he replied. 'I
don't remember.'

And the Nixon campaign itself was in many ways uncharacteristic. Mr. Nixon, who had
always seemed prepared to take on any opponent anywhere, held Senator Kennedy and
his family in awe in a way few of his supporters could understand. He admired the
Kennedy family's fighting spirit and their wealth and status. Whatever the reason, he
broke from his practice, and never made a slashing attack on his opponent..

A noted debater, he was not at his best in the four television debates with Mr. Kennedy.
He was tense, and he declined the use of makeup: his dark beard and pasty forehead, with
beads of sweat, made him appear on television to be the shadowy figure that cartoonists
had depicted.

Throughout the campaign, the Vice President's serious, sometimes prim, demeanor was
overshadowed by the charisma of the young Senator. This seemed more important than
questions about an interest-free $205,000 loan from Howard Hughes to Mr. Nixon's
brother Donald or such issuesas which candidate would be toughest against the Russians
and which could, in Mr. Kennedy's words, 'get this country moving again' in the wake of
a recession.

A Quiet Pledge: 'I Would Be Back'

Still, Mr. Nixon campaigned as doggedly as he ever had, and the outcome was
extraordinarily close. In the popular vote Mr. Kennedy led by 113,000 out of 68.8 million
cast. It was Mr. Nixon's first defeat and the last he would accept graciously. Many
Republicans, believing that Democratic machines in Chicago and Texas had stolen the
election for Mr. Kennedy, wanted to contest the outcome. But Mr. Nixon would not.

In his memoirs, he wrote that on the night of Mr. Kennedy's inauguration, when happy
Democrats were celebrating throughout Washington, he went alone to the deserted
Capitol and stood for several minutes on a balcony overlooking the snow-covered Mall
and the Washington Monument. 'As I turned to go inside, I suddenly stopped short, struck
by the thought that this was not the end, that someday I would be back here. I walked as
fast as I could back to the car.'

At the age of 48, Mr. Nixon returned to California and entered the 1962 race for
Governor against the incumbent, Pat Brown, a Democrat seeking a second term.

It was another tumultuous campaign of charges and countercharges, but in the end the
voters seemed to recognize what Mr. Nixon admitted in his memoirs: he did not really
want to be Governor; he wanted to be President.

The night of his defeat he was in a foul mood. Mr. Nixon felt he had been abused by the
press, and when reporters kept insisting that he make a statement, he marched into the
press room and made an angry farewell-to-politics speech that included the line, 'You
won't have Nixon to kick around anymore, because, gentlemen, this is my last press

Almost everyone believed that his political career was over. He had violated a basic rule
of American politics: Never appear to be a poor loser.

But after that night he began a slow, measured recovery that would lead to victory in two
Presidential elections. He wrote in his memoirs:

'I have never regretted what I said in 'the last press conference.' I believe that it gave the
media a warning that I would not sit back and take whatever biased coverage was dished
out to me. I think the episode was partially responsible for the much fairer treatment I
received from the press during the next few years. From that point of view alone, it was
worth it.'

Ever restless, he moved to New York as a senior partner in a Wall Street law firm whose
name became Nixon, Rose, Guthrie, Anderson & amp; Mitchell. The Nixons settled in an
expensive apartment on Fifth Avenue.

But Mr. Nixon spent little time as a lawyer. Rather, he worked at becoming President.
The crushing defeat of its 1964 nominee, Barry Goldwater, left the Republican Party in a
shambles. And it was Mr. Nixon who moved in and did the drudge work needed to
rebuild a constituency, attending the dinners, the rallies, the conventions.

In 1966 he chartered a sputtering DC-3 to take him around the country to speeches on
behalf of Republican Congressional candidates. Although his plane was modest, Mr.
Nixon managed to appear Presidential, the head of a party that was starting to capitalize
on the weaknesses of the Johnson Administration as public opposition to the Vietnam
War mounted and as many people became fearful of rising crime and civil disorder.

On Jan. 31, 1968, he formally announced his candidacy for the Presidency. He rolled
easily through the primaries. With the help of Southern conservatives, attracted by a
promise that he would ease off on school desegregation, he won the nomination at the
party's convention in Miami Beach on the first ballot, defeating Governor Rockefeller of
New York, a liberal, and Governor Reagan of California, a conservative.

As in the 1950 Senate race, the cards fell Mr. Nixon's way. President Johnson withdrew
as a candidate for re-election because of the opposition to the Vietnam War. Senator
Robert F. Kennedy was assassinated in Los Angeles in June while campaigning for the
Democratic nomination. Vice President Hubert H. Humphrey was nominated over an
antiwar candidate, Senator Eugene J. McCarthy of Minnesota, at the Democratic National
Convention in Chicago while the police and demonstrators fought in the streets. But Mr.
Humphrey was too closely tied to Mr. Johnson's policies for many Democrats, and when
he finally announced his independent opposition to the war, it was too late to heal the

Millions of independents and moderates in both parties saw Mr. Nixon as a suitable
alternative to another Democratic administration. At the age of 55 he seemed to have put
the excesses of his youth behind him. His mastery of foreign affairs and the prospects that
he would bring an era of reforms after years of hastily enacted 'Great Society' programs at
home appealed to many.

And in 1968 he was able to control as never before the image he projected to voters. By
then, candidates could be and were packaged and sold on television. Campaign tours and
rallies were useful mostly for showing on TV screens. The reality of a campaign could be
altered to project the desired image.
John D. Ehrlichman, later a top White House assistant, recalled the campaign in his book,
'Witness to Power.' At an Oct. 31 rally in Madison Square Garden, for example, Nixon
supporters were bused in from distant suburbs to fill the hall, while those off the street
who looked as if they might boo or heckle the candidate were directed down a corridor
that led back to the street.

'The television audience,' Mr. Ehrlichman wrote, 'saw only the thunderous cheering of a
friendly, enthusiastic crowd of enlightened American voters.'

Mr. Nixon won the popular vote by a narrow margin and got 301 electoral votes to 191
for Mr. Humphrey and 46 for Gov. George C. Wallace of Alabama, on a third-party


More Spending, More Control, More Justices, More War

When Mr. Nixon became President, he had never before wielded executive authority. But
he had been around power for so long and went to such great pains to keep abreast of
affairs at home and abroad that he knew exactly what he would do.

Much of what he did in the domestic area was aimed at cementing his re-election in 1972,
several Nixon aides said. He began by appointing a broadly based Cabinet that included
elected officials like Gov. George Romney of Michigan as Secretary of Housing and
Urban Development and Walter J. Hickel, the former Governor of Alaska, as Interior
Secretary. He named Daniel Patrick Moynihan of New York, who had been a liberal in
the Kennedy Administration, as his chief urban affairs adviser, and Henry Kissinger, an
adviser to Governor Rockefeller, as his chief foreign policy aide.

Despite his promises during the campaign and his Presidency to trim Government
spending, Mr. Nixon presided over an expansion in spending. One reason was that he had
to deal with a liberal, Democratic Congress. Another was that he did believe in many
innovations for Government aid, and in the 1970's there was a strong public demand for
such services.

He proposed a family assistance program that would have been more generous than the
traditional welfare then on the books, he backed safety and health protection for workers
and he called for housing allowances that would have moved many families out of public
housing by giving them money to rent their own. His Administration built more
subsidized housing units than any before or since, and he agreed to environmental
legislation, including the Environmental Protection Act, that would pour billions into
cleaning up the nation's air and waters.

Although few noticed it at the time, Mr. Nixon's expansion of the food stamp program
would later be acknowledged as a remarkable breakthrough in social policy by a
President who preached austerity: by 1982 it was helping to feed 1 in 10 Americans.
Another innovation that had an important effect on the nation was the program under
which the Federal Government took several billion dollars each year from its tax receipts
and distributed it, with few strings attached, to local governments. Looking to re-election,
Mr. Nixon opted to give local officials the maximum authority over use of these revenue-
sharing funds.

A 1972 Strategy To Comfort the South

But much of this was little noticed at the time because of some of Mr. Nixon's positions
on civil rights and his efforts to win the support of Southern conservatives breaking away
from the Democratic Party.

He backed off on enforcement of school desegregation, supporting legislation and
executive action that would vastly reduce the use of busing as the chief tool in achieving

A cornerstone of this 'Southern strategy' was his effort to change the makeup of the
Supreme Court. Two conservative nominees from the South were rejected by the Senate,
but Mr. Nixon was still able to reshape the court with four appointments: Warren E.
Burger as Chief Justice, and Associate Justices Harry A. Blackmun, Lewis F. Powell Jr.
and William H. Rehnquist. In much of his Presidency, Mr. Nixon faced a troubled
economy, and as pressure from Congress and the public mounted for him to do
something to check inflation, he imposed wage and price controls in mid-1971.

The controls required him to set up the kind of bureaucracy he had hated in World War
II. And when they were lifted, after the 1972 election, prices shot up again.

'What did America reap from its brief fling with economic controls?' Mr. Nixon asked in
his memoirs. 'The Aug. 15, 1971, decision to impose them was politically necessary and
immensely popular in the short run. But in the long run I believe that it was wrong. The
piper must be paid, and there was an unquestionably high price for tampering with the
orthodox economic mechanisms.'

Shared By: