Inside The Oval Office Essay, Research Paper
Inside The Oval Office is a book written by William Doyle that explores the differences in the occupational tendencies of the Presidents of the United States since Franklin D. Roosevelt. The actual transcripts from calls and discussions from within the oval office walls in the White House give you a “behind the scenes” look at the Presidency in a manner that has never before been expressed, to my knowledge. Reading books of this nature are not only interesting, but they bring to light new perspectives that you may not have previously expected to think about. Some questions that are raised in this book range from the understanding particular Presidents had of certain key political events in our history, to what exactly the President did on a day to day basis and was his service of this country what the American public would have expected it to be. In my writing, I will summarize how both Presidents Kennedy and Nixon gathered and used information in making decisions and also how reliable and useful this information was in making key political decisions.
Since President Kennedy served first of the two, I will follow the logic of chronological order in this paper and begin by saying that President Kennedy used several different sources to gather information, including high ranking security officers, congressional advisors and members, state governors, and numerous other aides and committees. Despite the sometimes “pointed” commentary by officials providing the president with information, President Kennedy maintained his profile as “The Rational Executive” just as the chapter about him in this book is named (Doyle, 93). President Kennedy’s tenure forced him to face some very difficult issues that were very important and had severe impacts on the way our country has been governed since. The civil rights movement, the bay of pigs and Cuban missile crisis just to name a few. President Kennedy, through no real fault of his own, took this country to the brink of nuclear war but by his swift, rational governing avoided catastrophe not only on the national level but also locally in situations such as the integration of The University of Mississippi (Doyle, 106). Keeping a calm and level head about the integration situation, Kennedy advised Governor Barnett on how to continue to maintain law and order, a civil protest (Doyle, 106). Even when the situation erupted into an uncontrollable riot, Kennedy took the ultimate blame on himself, “Kennedy cursed himself for not sending the troops in earlier” (Doyle, 120).
President Nixon got much of his political advising from his staff, or at least got a description of the picture of what was going on from them. Most of what is discussed in Nixon’s chapter entitled, “The Strategic Executive” is Nixon’s strategies for controlling things outside the White House that most presidents never dreamed of controlling. Overstepping the boundaries of moral jeopardy several times, and especially during the Watergate scandal, Nixon discussed some of the most corrupt actions an executive of this magnitude could commit with people while being recorded. President Nixon served as the greatest postwar international strategist, but his problems of corruption, which didn’t stop at Watergate, caused the weakening of his Presidency and ultimately instead of facing impeachment President Nixon resigned the off of President of the United States and left the tapes from his tenure behind to be found which further showed what a corrupt political figure he was.
In this paper, I have presented two different Presidents who each had an entirely different perspective on the role and power limitations that the chief executive office of the most powerful country in the world should possess. Power, as stated in the book is having “the ability to persuade people with different views than you have” was demonstrated much more swiftly by Nixon but with much less concern for the good of the country or the office of President, Nixon’s use of legislative and administrative power did him more harm than good (Doyle,136). When you look at President Kennedy’s administrative accomplishments, you can easily point out the numerous accomplishments without much downfall in his swift governing style. Kennedy’s personal skeletons are those that became public and caused the Presidents image to become a bit lackluster. On the other hand, Nixon’s downfalls seem to overshadow the good that he actually accomplished. Withdrawing troops from Vietnam and his policy adjustments that benefited the relations between the United States and foreign countries are completely forgotten when things like the Watergate scandal are brought into focus. Nixon’s information that he gathered from others was almost always seemingly in a scandalous nature and for the sole reason of committing crimes from the White House and his executive offices. As you can tell in the book, most people who worked for Nixon thought of a lot of his ideas as absurd and orders handed down by the President were not followed through. President Kennedy got his information from the most important people that he could get valid information from that related directly to the conflict at hand. Even though Kennedy may be blamed for not being a very hard working President, at least he worked more in the direction of the best interest of the people in this country, and not mainly for his own personal benefit nor did he devote and almost an entire Presidency to lies, public scandal and humiliation.
Doyle, William. Inside The Oval Office. New York: Kodansha America, Inc., 1999.