Richard Nixon

Nixon’s Downfall Didn’t Seem Inevitable Either

Frank Rich: “For all the months of sensational revelations and criminal indictments (including of his campaign manager and former attorney general, John Mitchell), a Harris poll found that only 22 percent thought Nixon should leave office. Gallup put the president’s approval rating in the upper 30s, roughly where our current president stands now — lousy, but not apocalyptic. There had yet to be an impeachment resolution filed in Congress by even Nixon’s most partisan adversaries.”

“He had defied his political obituaries before, staging comebacks after a slush-fund scandal nearly cost him his vice-presidential perch on the GOP ticket in 1952 and again after his 1962 defeat in the California governor’s race prompted the angry ‘last press conference’ at which he vowed that ‘you won’t have Nixon to kick around anymore.’ Might Tricky Dick pull off another Houdini? He was capable of it, and, as it happened, it would take another full year of bombshells and firestorms after the televised Senate hearings before a clear majority of Americans (57 percent) finally told pollsters they wanted the president to go home. Only then did he oblige them, in August 1974.”

How Nixon Scuttled Peace Talks to Win 1968 Election

“Richard M. Nixon always denied it: to David Frost, to historians and to Lyndon B. Johnson, who had the strongest suspicions and the most cause for outrage at his successor’s rumored treachery. To them all, Nixon insisted that he had not sabotaged Johnson’s 1968 peace initiative to bring the war in Vietnam to an early conclusion. ‘My God. I would never do anything to encourage’ South Vietnam ‘not to come to the table,’ Nixon told Johnson, in a conversation captured on the White House taping system,” the New York Times reports.

“Now we know Nixon lied. A newfound cache of notes left by H. R. Haldeman, his closest aide, shows that Nixon directed his campaign’s efforts to scuttle the peace talks, which he feared could give his opponent, Vice President Hubert H. Humphrey, an edge in the 1968 election. On Oct. 22, 1968, he ordered Haldeman to ‘monkey wrench’ the initiative.”

Trump’s Inspiration Is Nixon

New York Times: “In an evening of severe speeches evoking the tone and themes of Nixon’s successful 1968 campaign, Mr. Trump’s allies and aides proudly portrayed him as the heir to the disgraced former president’s law-and-order message, his mastery of political self-reinvention and his rebukes of overreaching liberal government.

“It was a remarkable embrace — open and unhesitating — of Nixon’s polarizing campaign tactics, and of his overt appeals to Americans frightened by a chaotic stew of war, mass protests and racial unrest.”

“And it demonstrated that, wisely or mistakenly, Mr. Trump sees the path to victory this fall as the exploitation of the country’s anxieties about race, its fears of terrorism and its mood of disaffection, especially among white, working-class Americans.”

Being Nixon

A must-read: Being Nixon: A Man Divided by Evan Thomas.

Bill Gates: “I was a little surprised to learn what a bad manager Nixon was. Although it doesn’t compare to his other failings, Nixon’s management style offers some good reminders of how not to run a team. He avoided conflict at all costs. His staff frequently left meetings with diametrically opposed views on what he had just asked them to do. Or he would be crystal-clear about what he wanted, while actually expecting his staff to ignore his demands. His team wisely blew off his repeated orders to break into the Brookings Institution, a Washington think tank, and steal a document that might be damaging to him.”

Secret Archive Gives New Insight Into Nixon

“President Richard Nixon believed that years of aerial bombing in Southeast Asia to pressure North Vietnam achieved ‘zilch’ even as he publicly declared it was effective and ordered more bombing while running for reelection in 1972, according to a handwritten note from Nixon disclosed in a new book by Bob Woodward,” the Washington Post reports.

“Nixon’s note, which has not previously been disclosed, was found in a trove of thousands of documents taken from the White House by Alexander P. Butterfield, deputy to H.R. Haldeman, Nixon’s chief of staff, and not made public until now.”

One Man Against the World

A must-read: One Man Against the World: The Tragedy of Richard Nixon by Tim Weiner.

“Based largely on documents declassified only in the last few years, One Man Against the World paints a devastating portrait of a tortured yet brilliant man who led the country largely according to a deep-seated insecurity and distrust of not only his cabinet and congress, but the American population at large.”

A Nixonian Path to the White House

“The effective kickoff of Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign was an act of deck-clearing so breathtaking, so brazen, that it remains difficult to process,” Michael Gerson writes.

“The former secretary of state summoned reporters to the United Nations, made a statement on Iran nuclear negotiations, then admitted deleting more than 30,000 e-mails she had deemed personal from the account she exclusively used while in office. This was the culmination of a deliberate, multiyear end run around congressional oversight, the Freedom of Information Act and the archiving of federal records. Documents she found inconvenient to sort while in government were convenient to destroy after leaving office.”

In Nixon’s Shadow

Politico: “It is a twist of history not likely to be lost on Hillary Clinton that only one person in modern times has managed to win the presidency after roughly two decades as a famous and polarizing figure in the first rank of political life. His name: Richard M. Nixon.”

“The Nixon example comes to mind not only because Clinton is in the midst of re-tooling herself and her staff for a 2016 campaign that will presumably introduce at least some version of a “New Hillary,” but because the bombshell news that she kept at least 55,000 pages of business emails sent during her tenure as Secretary of State on a private account has struck some observers as, well, Nixonian.”

Clinton Follows Nixon’s Strategy of Laying Low

CNN: “As Clinton eyes another run at the presidency in 2016, some close to her — especially those who are cheering reports she may wait until summer to officially announce a bid — point to Nixon’s successful 1968 presidential bid as a positive sign, particularly how Nixon’s public operation went dark for about six months before entering the race.”

“Despite being the presumed Democratic front-runner since Obama was reelected in 2012, Clinton has been largely absent from the public spotlight since the midterms wrapped in November 2014. And with the exception of the occasional paid speech and non-profit event, she could lay-low through the spring, a months-long hiatus similar to one Nixon took more than fifty years ago before winning the presidency for the first time.”