A. Richard Nixon was elected a minority president.
1. He received only 43.4 percent of the popular vote.
2. Antiwar demonstrators greeted him with hostility
on the day of his inaugural.
3. Many believed he gained the presidency because of
what happened to the Democrats.
B. Nixon made his appointments.
1. Nixon liked solitude.
a. He delegated tremendous authority to Kissinger,
Ehrlichman and Haldeman, on his White House staff.
2. Nixon selects his cabinet.
a. The 12 men were his mirror image–white, middle-
aged, business-oriented, Republican and males.
b. Most did not survive Nixon’s term of office.
C. Nixon attempted to fulfill his campaign promises.
1. He tried to end the war in Vietnam.
a. He made a secret offer of settlement that was
b. He began a program of gradual military withdrawal.
1. American combat troops were replaced by the
army of the Republic of Vietnam.
c. Nixon asked for the support of the silent
2. Nixon attempted to clear up the welfare mess.
a. He wanted to reform the welfare system.
1. Nixon endorsed a guaranteed annual income.
a. The hard-working middle class resented
b. Both liberals and conservatives felt it
was too costly a plan.
b. He proposed a 10 percent increase in social security
D. Nixon lost some points on the domestic front.
1. Two Supreme Court nominees were rejected by the Senate.
2. He sent troops into Cambodia.
a. Students demonstrated.
b. At Kent State four demonstrators were killed by
1. Nixon was criticized for lack of sympathy.
c. He attempted to halt desegregation.
1. The administration went to court to win a
delay for 31 school districts in Mississippi.
a. The Supreme Court upheld desegregation.
E. Nixon had several domestic aims his first years in office.
1. He signed the first population control bill in history.
2. He developed an economic policy to offset inflation.
a. It held back business expansion and increased
3. He tried to transfer power back to the states.
4. He submitted to Congress 21 anti-crime measures.
5. He requested funds from Congress to develop public
F. Nixon was a man who refused to be defeated.
1. He was politically finished in 1963 but made his way
back into the political arena.
a. He recognized the silent majority.
b. But he didn’t know when to quit.
G. Mitchell served as Nixon’s foil.
1. He was credited with several blunders.
a. He tried to undermine school desegregation.
b. He insisted that the government had an inherent
right to wiretap subversives.
c. He brought suit against the New York Times over
the Pentagon Papers.
d. He prosecuted antiwar groups on flimsy evidence.
2. The courts repudiated his legal maneuvers.
a. Nixon could then play both sides.
H. Nixon and his White House staff applied themselves with
zeal to his reelection.
1. Nixon applied himself to foreign policy.
a. He and Kissinger decided to open up relations
with Communist China.
1. His visit to China led to the US/Soviet Union
agreement to impose limits on strategic weapons.
2. Hanoi softened demands.
a. As Election Day neared it was obvious that
the war in Vietnam would end soon.
2. He appointed John Connolly Treasury Secretary.
a. A 90-day freeze on prices and wages was established.
b. He liberated the dollar from the gold standard.
c. He placed a 10 percent surtax on imports.
d. He proposed a $4.7 billion cut in federal spending.
I. Watergate was Nixon’s greatest mistake.
1. After the publication of the Pentagon Papers a special
investigation unit was established to prevent security
2. After the Republican loss at mid-term, Nixon’s White
House felt drastic measures had to be taken to insure
his second term.
a. Ironically, by the time of the break-in, Nixon had
the election all wrapped up.
1. He won the 1972 election by the greatest margin
of all time.
2. He emerged a dominant political figure.
3. He destroyed an American myth.
The purpose of this research is to discuss Richard M. Nixon as a politician, focusing on his actions and accomplishments as President of the United States.
Thousands of antiwar demonstrators greeted Nixon with hostility as he made his way down Pennsylvania Avenue on the day of his inaugural. Some of the demonstrators hurled bottles and rocks as his limousine passed. In his inaugural speech he said, “We cannot learn from one another until we stop shouting at one another–until we speak quietly enough so that our words can be heard as well as our voices.” Nixon won the 1962 election with only 43.4 percent of the popular vote and he was very much aware that he was a minority president. Many believed he had gained the presidency, not so much because of his own efforts but because of all that happened to the Democrats. However, he proved himself with the landslide victory in the 1972 election. But shortly after his second inaugural came news of the Watergate scandal. Richard Nixon was an ambitious man who had hoped to be remembered as the president who brought law and order home and peace abroad. Instead, he would be remembered as the man who brought dishonor to the position of President of the United States.
In staffing his White House, Richard Nixon gathered around himself three powerful men: Henry Kissinger, John Ehrlichman, and H. R. (Bob) Haldeman. To these three men he delegated tremendous authority. Haldeman acted as the go-between for a president who liked to spend long hours in solitude. Nixon’s cabinet selection mirrored himself–all 12 were white, middle-aged, business-oriented Republican males. Only a few would remain in their positions throughout Nixon’s term of office. Some were fired and others were forced to resign because of their conflicts with the White House staff.
In the presidential campaign, Nixon had vowed: “The war must be ended,” and after his election he made a secret offer of settlement that was rejected by the other side. By June he began a program of gradual military withdrawal from Vietnam. American combat troops were replaced by those of the Army of the Republic of Vietnam. October 1969 opponents of the Vietnam War organized a nationwide demonstration against what they considered Nixon’s limited peace efforts. Nixon answered the charges levied against him on November 3, 1969 in a televised address in which he asked for the support of the great silent majority of Americans.
”The ‘welfare mess’ had been one of Nixon’s favorite targets in the ’68 campaign. ‘The time has come to get people off the welfare rolls and on to payrolls’ was the line he liked to deliver at suburban shopping centers.” He attempted to reform the welfare system; he proposed a comprehensive Manpower Training Act and reorganized the Manpower Administration of the Department of Labor; and he proposed a 10 percent increase in Social Security payments. Under Pat Moynihan’s influence, Nixon endorsed a welfare reform bill that would guarantee every American family an annual income ($1600 for a family of four) and would allow some of the working poor to receive welfare benefits. The conservatives were outraged. The hard-working middle class resented this proposed plan to dole out more money to people. Both liberals and conservatives felt it was too costly a plan and ill-conceived for that period of inflation. Surprisingly, Nixon did not fight for his own proposal, leading some to believe it was his political strategy to become linked with a progressive measure, without it having a chance of becoming law.
In 1970 Nixon would have two Supreme Court nominees rejected by the Senate. He made himself unpopular when in April of that year he decided to send United States troops into Cambodia saying, “I would rather be a one-term President than be a two-term President at the cost of seeing America become a second-rate power.” All over the country, students demonstrated against this action: “Nixon reacting to the student reaction, in a spontaneous interview given as he emerged from a Pentagon briefing, referred to ‘these bums . . . blowing up the campuses.'” Then came Kent State and the death of four demonstrators at the hands of the National Guard. The president’s statement was: “The killings ‘should remind us all once again that when dissent turns to violence it invites tragedy.'” The public was appalled at the insensitivity of the statement and some refused to believe it was the president who wrote it. A mass demonstration converged on Washington. The promise of the Nixon administration to bring us together obviously had not been realized.
With regard to civil rights, the Nixon administration attempted to halt desegregation. Some of the school districts had their guidelines softened and some others were granted postponements. The administration went into court to win a delay for 33 school districts in Mississippi. But the NAACP entered a civil rights case against the federal government and the Supreme Court handed down a unanimous decision: “Not only did it reverse the Mississippi delay ruling, but it said all school districts were under an obligation to desegregate ‘at once.'”
Nixon signed the first population control bill in American history. To offset inflation Nixon chose to slow down the economy by reducing government expenditures and adopting fiscal policies that would hold back business expansion even though it would mean increasing unemployment. Under the label of “New Federalism” Nixon began a program of transferring power back to the states mainly by federal tax sharing. He submitted to Congress 21 anti-crime measures. Congress passed the bill strengthening narcotics control. The Senate approved Nixon’s request for funds to develop public transportation systems. Thus were Nixon’s domestic aims his first years in office.
William Safire said of Nixon: “As a partisan, he had a heart too soon made cold, a head too soon made hot.” Nixon was politically finished in 1963, but became president in 1968. He maneuvered and manipulated his way back into the political arena. He was a self-made man. His perceptions led him to recognize the “silent majority” and he stood for what they believed–the work ethic, pride in their nation, and the optimism that things will get better. His greatest achievement was bringing the war to an end–“with honor” as he liked to think. His greatest failure was Watergate. Nixon was a man who refused to be defeated. He was a political loser who made it to the highest office in the land. The problem was he didn’t know when to quit.
Haldeman and Ehrlichman controlled the Cabinet for a president who wanted to deal personally only with “big policy.” Nixon chose his Attorney General, John Mitchell, as his confidant and all-around advisor. Mitchell was credited with several blunders. His attempt to undermine school desegregation was thwarted by the Supreme Court, as was his insistence that the government had an inherent right to wiretap domestic subversives without court supervision. His suit against the New York Times over the Pentagon Papers was repudiated by the Supreme Court as well. His prosecution of prominent antiwar groups was based on such flimsy evidence that neither the case against the “Chicago Seven” nor the case against the “Harrisburg Seven” could produce a sustained conviction. Mitchell’s actions met with the president’s approval and moreover, Nixon had enough experience and political savvy to play both ends against the middle. He knew that his administration couldn’t repeal or circumvent the civil rights laws that were already on the books, yet by approving certain legal maneuvers that were then repudiated by the courts, Nixon could turn to his southern Republicans and the Wallace Democrats and say, I tried, but the courts wouldn’t let us. Then Nixon would have to enforce the laws passed during Johnson’s administration and try to win credit from the blacks and liberal whites for bringing desegregation to the south.
Vice President Agnew was considered abrasive, but with little power. Agnew and Mitchell performed a useful service: “For the clouds of dust stirred up by Mitchell and Agnew provided a smokescreen that helped to conceal from public view the strings being pulled from within the White House–as well as the men who were pulling them.”
During the midterm election the Democrats picked up nine seats in the House and 11 governors. The Republicans gained two senators. Nixon’s White House concluded that drastic measures would be needed to assure their man a second term as president.
Nixon applied himself to foreign policy. Nixon and Kissinger decided it was time to open up relations with Communist China and thus exploit the division between Moscow and Peking. It was announced that Nixon would visit the People’s Republic of China and then the Kremlin. The visits proved successful, as the U.S./Soviet Union agreement to impose limits on strategic weapons was a big step taken on the road to disarmament. Meanwhile the Vietnam War was continuing, and the prisoner-of-war problem became a volatile issue. But in the summer of 1972 Hanoi’s demands began to soften and as Election Day, 1972 neared, it was obvious that the war in Vietnam would soon come to an end.
Two months after Nixon’s reelection a cease-fire was achieved.
The Nixon years were marked by rising inflation and deepening recession. In 1970 Nixon appointed John Connolly Treasury Secretary. The following year Nixon announced he was imposing a 90-day freeze on wages and prices, that he was liberating the dollar from the gold standard, that he was placing a 10 percent surtax on imports and was proposing a $4.7 billion cut in federal spending. These bold economic policies were a reelection maneuver. Shortly after the 1972 election, George Schultz replaced Connolly, and the anti-inflationary controls were lifted.
In June, 1971 the New York Times published the Pentagon Papers, classified documents dealing with U.S.involvement in Vietnam, and a few days later, Nixon secretly ordered the establishment of a Special Investigation Unit within the White House to prevent security leaks. E. Howard Hunt and G. Gordon Liddy became the plumbers who would plug up the leaks. And the rest is history.
According to Rather and Gates, “The supreme irony, of course, is that by the time the ‘third-rate burglary’ occurred, early on the morning of June 17, Nixon had the election all wrapped up; indeed by then all signs pointed to a probable landslide.” George McGovern would run against Nixon as an extremely weak opponent, and George Wallace was shot by Arnold Bremer and eliminated from the campaign. Nixon won the 1972 election by the greatest margin of all time. He emerged a dominant figure. He had run for office five times and emerged victorious four times. Only one other could claim that–Franklin D. Roosevelt. But Nixon committed the greatest crime: he destroyed an American myth.