Richard NIxon Essay, Research Paper
Richard Milhous Nixon, 37th president of the United States, was born January 9, 1913 in Yorba Linda, California. Nixon was one of the most controversial politicians. He used the communist scare of the late forties and early fifties to catapult his career, but as president he eased tension with the Soviet Union and opened relations with Red China. He was president during the civil rights movement and the Vietnam War.
Nixon came from a southern-California Quaker family, where hard work was emphasized. A terrific student, he was invited by Harvard and Yale to apply for scholarships, but his older brother’s illness and the Depression forced him to stay near home. He attended Whittier College, where he graduated second in his class in 1934. He went on to law school at Duke University. He graduated third in his class, and applied for jobs with both large Northeastern law firms and the FBI. His applications were all rejected, however, his mother helped get him a job at a friend’s local law firm.
At the outbreak of WWII, Nixon went to work for the tire rationing section the Office of Price Administration in Washington, DC. Eight months later, he joined the Navy and was sent to the Pacific as a supply officer. He was popular with his men, and such an accomplished poker player that he was able to send enough of his comrades money back home to help fund his first political campaign.
After returning from the war, Nixon entered politics, answering a Republican party call in the newspaper for someone to run against the five-term Democratic Congressman, Jerry Voorhis. Nixon seemed the perfect man for the job, and he was welcomed generously by the California Republican party.
The style of Nixon’s first campaign set the tone for the early part of his political career, where he achieved fame as a devout anti-Communist. He accused Congressman Voorhis of being a communist. This sort of straightforward communist-bashing was new at the time. Nixon defeated Voorhis with sixty percent of the vote.
Nixon later said "Of course I knew Jerry Voorhis wasn’t a communist, but I had to win."
Nixon became the junior member of the House Committee on un-American Activities. Nixon’s pursuit of Alger Hiss, a former adviser to Franklin Roosevelt, gave him national exposure. Hiss had been accused of being a communist and of transmitting secret State Department documents to the Soviets. Hiss was convicted and jailed.
At the age of thirty-five, Nixon was a national figure, and he used this fame to an easy victory in his senate race against three-term Congresswoman Helen Gahagan Douglas in 1950, once again adopting a communist-bashing campaign. He accused Ms. Douglas, who opposed the un-American Activities Committee, of being "pink right down to her underwear." In return, Douglas gave Nixon with his nickname, "Tricky Dick."
Nixon was in the US Senate for a year-and-a-half when the Republican national convention selected him to be General Dwight D. Eisenhower’s running mate. Much of Nixon’s success had been built on the political destroying of his Democratic foes, and Nixon was expected to do much of the dirty work of campaigning. Nixon performed his task admirably, casting doubt on the abilities and patriotism of his and Eisenhower’s Democratic opponent, Adlai Stevenson.
Nixon himself had to deal with scrutiny during the campaign. The New York Post announced that he had received secret campaign contributions, he was nearly off the ticket. Instead of giving up, Nixon went on national television and appealed to the voters. He delivered the "Checkers Speech," showing his financial situation and saying that he was not a wealthy man. The
only contribution he claimed to have kept was a dog named Checkers. The speech was a success. Nixon remained on the ticket and became vice-president when Eisenhower defeated Stevenson.
When Eisenhower was to run again in 1956, he was not sure he wanted Nixon with him. Nixon pressured the president into making a decision, refused Eisenhower’s offer of a cabinet position, and the Republican ticket once again had Richard Milhous Nixon as the vice-presidential candidate.
In the second campaign, Nixon moved away from his muck-raking, communist-bashing techniques, and the press began speaking of a "New Nixon." Because of Eisenhower’s apparent support, Nixon was considered by many the Republican heir, and he became more active in his second term. Eisenhower sent him to South America, where his motorcade was spat upon and attacked, and the Soviet Union, where Nixon challenged Nikita Kruschev to a debate in a kitchen.
Nixon was unanimously nominated at the Republican convention in 1960, and only fourteen years after first running for office, he was one election away from the presidency. Many were confident of Nixon’s ability to win the election easily, being a national figure running against the young, inexperienced John F. Kennedy. Kennedy took advantage of modern campaigning techniques, which employed the television more than personal contact, and he was given a big push by the first-ever televised presidential debates. The attractive, charming Kennedy came off as strong, confident, and in control, while Nixon, who refused to wear make-up, looked haggard, almost ghost-like. The election was down to the wire, with Kennedy winning by only 100,000 votes nationwide. Some of the most crucial votes came in Cook County, Illinois, which was controlled by party boss Richard Daley, and many suspected election fraud, but Nixon
refused to demand a recount, stating that it would be political suicide if he lost.
Nixon ran for governor of California in 1962, but he had never been a locally active politician and his years in Washington had made him out of touch California. He lost to incumbent Pat Brown. In a press conference shortly after Nixon claimed that this would be his last press conference. He stated, "You don’t have Nixon to kick around anymore." He took a job as a Wall Street lawyer, but soon tired of private life and took to the campaign trail in 1966, stumping successfully for Republican congressional candidates and bringing himself once again into the heart of Republican party affairs.
After a world tour during, he familiarized himself with foreign affairs, Nixon was back in the electoral arena again, running for president a second time in 1968. Nixon avoided the tricky issue of the Vietnam War, stating that he would find an "honorable end" to the war. Democrats, split over the war, tear themselves apart, further setting himself apart by running on a "Law and Order" campaign that blamed America’s most visible, problems on the liberal Democrats. Nixon’s appeal to the "forgotten Americans," who felt ignored in the upheavals of the sixties, brought him victory over Hubert Humphrey.
Nixon pledged that he would bring America together, but his margin of victory had been slim and based on white, middle-class voters. As president, he concentrated on foreign affairs,
hoping to bring about a generation of peace and a new world order. Chief of Staff H.R. Haldeman and John Erhlichman, Nixon’s closest advisor, handled much of domestic policy, leaving Nixon to concentrate on foreign policy. Nixon often by-passed the Defense and State Departments, instead working closely with National Security Advisor, Henry Kissinger, a former Harvard professor and newcomer to official foreign policy.
The Vietnam War was the major obstacle to the new president. Even before his inauguration, Nixon had Kissinger spoke in secret with North Vietnam, hoping a speedy American withdrawal from Vietnam. Nixon announced replacement of American forces with South Vietnamese,planning to have all American troops out of Vietnam by the end of 1970. Nixon did not want to be the first opposition: an anti-war movement, and he appealed to the "silent majority," another version of his "forgotten Americans," who he felt supported his foreign policy. He pledged not to back down, and in early 1970 escalated the war, authorizing bombings on North Vietnam and attacks on Cambodia. After his reelection, Nixon again ordered an increase in the bombings. Two weeks after the bombings began, Nixon announced that peace negotiations were soon to resume, and by January 28,1973, a cease fire was established that allowed the removal of remaining 23,700 troops
Nixon used price cutting policies. These policies were initially successful, causing exports to become cheaper, when the wage and price commissions began to give way to pressures from both labor and business interests, inflation rose, causing a decade-long rise in the cost of living.
Nixon is remembered for his foreign policy achievements, despite his failure to bring an "honorable" end to the Vietnam War, and Kissinger’s inability to end the Middle East tensions that were brought on by Israel’s victory over Arab countries in the Six-Day War of 1967. Perhaps this notoriety is based on the fact that Nixon was one of the few presidents in American history who practiced foreign policy by design, setting certain goals and moving on. He became the first US president to visit the Soviet Union. He traveled to Moscow in May of 1972. He sought peace with Russia and negotiated with the Soviet Union to limit nuclear weapons, which resulted in the Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty (SALT). At the same time, he was making secret contact with the People’s Republic of China, which he visited publicly in February, 1972, opening official diplomatic relations with China for the first time since the communist takeover in 1949.
Despite the final peaceful outcome of the Vietnam situation, and his accomplishments overseas, Nixon’s blatant scoffing of the anti-war movement had ignited domestic upheavals, including the shooting of fifteen students at a Kent State anti-war demonstration. The public dissatisfaction with the president brought out Nixon’s insecurity and his "dark side." This led Nixon to form the Special Investigations Unit, known as the "plumbers," an outfit illegally equipped by the CIA. They were sent on missions to discredit Democratic opponents. He also made the Committee to Reelect the President (CREEP), which collected $60 million, violating campaign laws, and funded tapping the phone of the chairman of the Democratic National Committee.
Nixon did not need this help to get reelected in 1972, as he faced a split Democratic party. Nixon won the election with 60.7 percent of the vote. A bunch of revelations in 1973 hurt Nixon’s presidency and brought him to resign. The involvement of the CIA, under Nixon’s direction, in a military effort that overthrew Chile’s Salvador Allende. Vice-President Agnew was forced to resign when it was revealed that he had cheated on his income taxes and had taken more than $100,000 in payoffs from contractors between 1966 and 1972. The IRS also said that Nixon owed more than $400,000 in back taxes, and critics pointed out that Nixon?s administration had raised subsidies to milk producers, who donated over a half-million dollars to the Republican party.
The final blow came when Nixon’s involvement in the plumbers’ Watergate burglary was revealed by investigative reporters. Nixon’s involvement was documented on audio tapes of White House conversations, which Nixon refused to turn over to investigators. Nixon cited "executive privilege" and national security as reasons for keeping the tapes, but his appeal to the Supreme Court was rejected. Days later, the House Judiciary Committee voted to impeach the president on three counts. Nixon finally released the incriminating tapes, and over the next few days both Republican and Democratic Senators, enough to get a conviction, indicated that they would vote against the president if articles of impeachment were offered by the House. On August 9, 1974, before the House could vote to impeach him, Nixon resigned the presidency, the first incumbent ever to do so.
After taking office Ford granted Nixon a pardon for any crimes he might have committed as president. Nixon never went to jail, some of his aides did. After resigning the presidency, Nixon wanted to be looked upon as an elder statesman. He wrote five books on US foreign policy: The Real War (1980), Real Peace (1983), No More Vietnams (1985), 1999: Victory without War (1988), Seize the Moment (1992), and Beyond Peace (1994). By the 1990s, much of the scandal had been forgotten, and Nixon was once again hailed as a genius of foreign policy and jokingly considered a possible Republican presidential candidate. T-shirts and bumper stickers appeared bearing the motto "He’s tan, he’s rested, and he’s ready: Nixon in ‘92."
Richard Milhous Nixon died of severe stroke April 22, 1994, at age 81, but I suggest to you: today, if Nixon were living he might be president.