37 - Richard M Nixon
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Partners in Power: Nixon and Kissinger
Nixon The Education of a Politician
The Arrogance of Power. The Secret World of Richard Nixon
1968 Election Nixon (301 electoral votes) vs. Humphrey(191) Wallace (46)
1972 Election Nixon (520 electorsl votes) vs. McGovern (17)
Nixon was the first to address the Russians on Russian television.
He had the White House swimming pool filled in to give the press more room to stand when covering White House events.
Nixon was a seventh cousin twice removed of William Howard Taft, and an eighth cousin once removed of Herbert Hoover.
He was the first president to visit China while in office.
Nixon's mother wanted him to become a Quaker missionary; Nixon wanted to be an FBI agent.
Nixon's favorite sport was football. Before Super Bowl VI, Nixon called Miami Dolphins coach, Don Shula, to recommend a play. The play never did work.
Nixon was the first president to visit all 50 states.
He was our only president to resign from office. His letter of resignation was as follows: "Dear Mr. Secretary: I hearby resign the office of the President of the United States. Sincerely, Richard M. Nixon."
I read Partners in Power: Nixon and Kissinger earlier this year and found it to be very interesting.
I never realized how similar these two guys were, especially how paranoid Kissinger was. Neither one of them treated people very well at all - people quitting and/or having nervous breakdowns seemed faily common.
The book covered both Nixon's and Kissinger's somewhat humble beginnings separately, and then intertwined their biographies when they got together.
Vietnam, China, the USSR are all covered, as well as Watergate. It was interesting how Nixon continued to downplay the importance of Watergate almost to the end.
A well-written book, however sometimes it seemed to jump back and forth in time, as several strings were being followed. Not the easiest of reads.
Nixon at the Movies is on my wishlist--happy to see a positive review!
There are tons of interesting books about Nixon, like All the President's Men, The Final Days, The Making of the President 1960 (where he loses to Kennedy), Blind Ambition, Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail '72, etc., but most those focus the later part of his political career.
If anybody is looking for a book to read about Nixon, Nixonland: The Rise of a President and the Fracturing of America by Rick Perlstein is a long read, but it is worth it. I have read it before, but I want a fresh slate for this challenge.
The Arrogance of Power. The Secret World of Richard Nixon by Anthony Summers
It took me a little longer than usual to finish this book. It made me so mad and so sad as I waded through it. Readers, once they have put it through a "biography truth formula" which includes a division sign, will still be appalled by the facts and implications herein. It's astonishing that we, the voting public, can be so gullible and susceptible to the lies and misconstructions of politicians as they manufacture truths they want us to believe - or truths they think we want to believe.
But there was something else, too, that made me uneasy about this book. I found myself wondering if the author didn't also have a paranoiac personality. Almost every paragraph in the 468 pages was negative and accusatory.
The real sad thing about this episode of American government is that it added up to be the sickest of several sick administrations in the country's short history and that it may have led to many citizens not trusting their leaders one little bit. That sort of mistrust makes governing exceedingly difficult for any elected official and always evolves into mistrust of every other human being on the planet.
Has it ever been thus?
Nixon is a fascinating character --- just as Shakespearean in his rise and fall as portrayed in the Oliver Stone film, and just as crazy. I recently watched "The US Vs. John Lennon" and that documentary is a terrific reminder of how paranoid Nixon was as he seems to be personally involved in the attempts to engineer Lennon's deportation.
The outstanding Richard Reeves bio, President Nixon demonstrates page after page just how crazy he really was. I saw Reeves speak at the Kennedy library a few years back and he articulates this aloud; Reeves said that while Nixon for all his flaws was sane in 1960, but was almost certainly clinically insane during much of his Presidency.
He certainly seemed to be a scary presence in the White House. Mr Summers intimates that there were many instances where those who worked for the administration (notably Henry Kissinger and Al Haig) sat on a lot of ridiculous and dangerous orders until the president had "slept it off".
One of the really sad things Mr. Summers noted was that the man was blatantly cruel to his wife, Pat. He did show, however, that the daughters, Tricia and Julie, loved their father deeply. It was one of the rare positive things written about in the book.
To me, the most important message is how dangerous the expanded powers of the American President in the post WWII era really is. It was a concern for security that permitted the executive to usurp the war-making powers of the legislative branch and it is essential in my view that the Congress get these powers back. But few are even concerned with this.
Vietnam and Watergate should have put a knife in the Imperial Presidency for good, but instead a resurgent right spun the fiction that unpatriotic protesters and a left-wing media lost the war in Vietnam for us, and that Nixon was guilty of nothing but covering up a third rate burglary. Congress passed a War Powers Act that had no teeth, and only a few years later Ronald Reagan was President, the true grandfather of all the terrible troubles delivered by the administration of George W. Bush.
Nixon did not arise from a vacuum and we are still suffering from the damage he caused to our American political system, yet to many he did an able job of rehabilitating himself in his post White House career as an itinerant foreign policy satan. It still goes on: Kissinger, "the Devil's disciple", is sometimes consulted on foreign policy today. Maybe the country really is crazier than Nixon ever was!
Not sure which President I should post this in so I will post in all three threads:
One of the books I got for Christmas was 1960: LBJ vs. JFK vs. Nixon by David Pietrusza, focused upon the 1960 election. I started it almost immediately and basically shunted aside most of the rest of the books I have in play to focus upon it, finishing it this morning.
Let me say that Pietrusza demonstrates that a writer of history – in the tradition of Tom Holland, for example -- CAN write an exciting, very readable book for ALL audiences that contains copious (70+ pages) footnotes. I would suggest that anyone who has interest in this election, those three giants who would dominate American politics in the 1960's, or simply the American political/electoral system shortly after mid-century should read this book. More than 400 pages long, yet never for a moment tedious or dull, Pietrusza brings to life a realistic and not-too-flattering portrait of the candidates and their respective entourages in this pivotal election that was to be (with the critical addition of television debates) the dawn of modern campaigning. More than that, however, the author introduces and fleshes out the larger cast of characters – from Eisenhower to Symington to Lodge to Stevenson to Rockefeller – who dominated American politics in the fifties, and capably brings you up to speed on American politics in what was very much a transitional era.
Whether you are already widely familiar, as I am, with the intimate personalities of Kennedy, Johnson and Nixon, or whether you are completely new to their bios, “1960” will suck you in and not let you go, page-by-page, from the first stirrings of the campaign to election night and beyond. Highly recommended!
Just found this:
"If the right people had been in charge of Nixon's funeral, his casket would have been launched into one of those open-sewage canals that empty into the ocean just south of Los Angeles. He was a swine of a man and a jabbering dupe of a president. Nixon was so crooked that he needed servants to help him screw his pants on every morning. Even his funeral was illegal. He was queer in the deepest way. His body should have been burned in a trash bin." -- Hunter S. Thompson
Newly declassified LBJ tapes reveal that Johnson was seriously considering re-entering the '68 race and that Nixon was committing treason behind the scenes by sabotaging the Paris Peace Talks ...
Hunter Thompson? Er, no.
Here's Ben Stein on Nixon:
He was a terrible man and he was almost certainly insane by the time he was POTUS. He has been rehabilitated again and again over the course of his lifetime and since he passed, quite undeservedly. America would have been a better nation had Nixon never been POTUS. Richard Reeves is the best biographer, I think. And the Oliver Stone fictionalized version is perhaps closest to his essence, although the true deep evil in the man was never underscored to the degree it warranted. Many people who knew Nixon, even his supporters, were creeped out by the slime he oozed. A thoroughly despicable fellow.
As for Ben Stein, I can't say that his opinion on anything is something that I would endorse ...
Well, Ben Stein was one of his speechwriters, so he ought to know. He knows everyone in the administration and is still friends with many of them and with the Nixon family. Readers would be well advised to listen to what Ben Stein has to say.
Nixon was a very popular president until Watergate, especially with young people. He was vice president under Eisenhower for eight years. In 1972 he was re-elected in a landslide. He enacted policies that liberals liked and some that conservatives liked. From The Source Of All That Is Good And True (wikipedia): Nixon opened diplomatic relations with China, started detente and the ABM treaty and programs to stop cancer and illegal drugs; policies to transfer power from D.C. to the states; was very pro-environment and established the EPA among other key acts; enforced desegregation of southern schools; was a staunch anti-communist, believed (correctly) Whittaker Chambers over Alger Hiss; and saved Israel. And he ended the Vietnam war.
Stein calls Nixon a peacemaker, a word which appears on Nixon's gravestone. He was born into a poor family of Quakers, a denomination known for its far left stance of nonviolence. As a boy Nixon was bookish, sensitive, and bullied. In high school, he gave up a grant to attend Harvard so he could stay home to take care of his brother who had TB, instead attending his hometown Whittier College. He got a full scholarship to attend Duke Law school, was named president of the Duke Bar Association, and graduated third in his class. He had a decorated career in the Navy.
An intellectual, after office he wrote ten, well-received books and saw his reputation rise. In the '80s a Gallup poll ranked him one of the ten most admired men in the world.
You trust a movie by Oliver Stone? Jeez…
Nixon evil? Hardly. An evil man would never have resigned, unlike Clinton, who stayed on until he was actually impeached. Given the vagueness of "high crimes and misdemeanors," all presidents have probably committed impeachable offenses. All presidents and politicians have probably done things as bad or worse than Nixon.
You call Nixon evil and insane, then you quote Hunter Thompson? Thompson was a burnout and a punk who couldn't make his way through an ordinary conversation. He ran for sheriff on the "Freak Party." He admired Che Guevara and Karl Marx and compared him favorably with Thomas Jefferson. He considered free enterprise "the single greatest evil in the history of human savagery." He thought 9/11 was a plot caused by the U.S. government. He abused alcohol and illegal drugs and was obsessed with guns and explosives. "I hate to advocate drugs, alcohol, violence, or insanity to anyone, but they've always worked for me." Well, not quite. A man in despair, he committed suicide by putting a shotgun to his head.
A reliable source for…nothing.
Nixon, Vol. 1: The Education of a Politician 1913-1962 by Stephen Ambrose
Nixon, Vol. 2: The Triumph of a Politician 1962-1972 by Stephen Ambrose
Nixon: Ruin and Recovery, 1973-1990 by Stephen Ambrose
On his way to the Inaugural, Nixon confided to his aides in the limo that the war was lost but that we needed to extricate ourselves "with honor" regardless. Tens of thousands of American soldiers and tens of thousands of Vietnamese died subsequently and needlessly during his playacting. Nixon was ruthless and paranoid and quite crazy by the time he was President. I have read extensively about Nixon from a wide variety of biographers and have attended a lecture by biographer Richard Reeves in which these assertions are made manifest.
True, certain of his policies were worthy, but that can be said for most Presidents. Eisenhower distrusted him deeply. JFK told Jackie that he thought Nixon was psychologically unbalanced. A huge host of people who knew him personally, even some supporters, found him "slimy" and a bit mentally unstable. I recommend that you put your personal politics aside and delve a bit deeper here. Again, the Reeves President Nixon is perhaps the best, but if you read deeply in bios of JFK, RFK and LBJ you will find many disturbing references to Nixon.
As the new LBJ tapes reveal, Nixon was working behind the scenes to defeat the Paris Peace Talks with his own envoy who convinced the South Vietnamese to pull out of the talks. This has long been suspected.
What else can you call that but treason?
"I recommend that you put your personal politics aside"
I recommend you do the same. You seem to be unaware of your rigid biases, which you state with full confidence that there simply can be no other way of looking at things.
I have read your screeds in other threads. You often use the words "insane" and "idiot" to describe people (presidents) you disagree with or don't like. I suppose I have been guilty of the same…when I was younger. Are you a very young person? Experience is probably the best teacher.
The word "insane" really means nothing. It has a legal meaning, though legal definitions and reality often have little to do with each other. It is not a medical term either. It is a word used when a person is incapable of articulating his thoughts and feelings and sees something he doesn't understand. It doesn't signify. When you say people around him say he was crazy, you are trusting what a biographer said about what other people said. They: disliked him, feared him, hated him, distrusted him, or…didn't understand him? Which? Many of the great men of history have been called "crazy" and "mentally unstable" in their time and ours. If you mean an actual, mental illness, with a precise medical definition, then say it. Lincoln, for example, very likely suffered from depression. But biographers are not doctors. Their psychological speculations are open to debate.
On another thread you called Bush and Reagan idiots, too. Hmm. Both Republicans. I've met a lot of idiots in my life. Most of them have read a lot of books and have letters after their names. Bush and Reagan were not idiots. You hate them and it clouds your judgment.
You can't say "idiot" and still think Nixon was more Machiavellian than other politicians. If you mean IQ, obviously he wasn't an idiot. I outlined his background. No president is an idiot. If you mean they exercise poor judgment, then say that, and give an example of poor judgment. Bush and his father were both fighter pilots. Ever see the cockpit of a fighter jet? Ever flown one? Ever flown in one?
JFK told Jackie…so you trust JFK as a judge of other people's psychological health and judgment? That's laughable. Have you seen his medical history? Do you know his relationship with honesty? As for RFK and LBJ, obviously liberals and Democrats are going to speak the same flabby accusations that you do—because they don't like him.
Look man, I don't know why you are taking this so personally or why you are personally attacking me. Are you related to Nixon?
Obviously you have a right-wing bias but Nixon doesn't fit into the lens of contemporary politics. Nixon was no idiot -- Reagan we could argue about -- but the fact that he was psychologically unbalanced, at the very least towards the end of his Presidency, seems well-established rather than subjective. There are many, many sources. The man was a psycho by many reports -- that is clear.
Anyhoo ... I am no young buck at 55 and my sole reason for posting today was the breaking news of the revelation of Nixon's treasonous behavior as evidenced in the release of the LBJ tapes, something you seem to skirt around while insulting me because I am challenging your deeply held "truths."
You sir, behave immaturely and have very bad manners. I will say no more in this thread or any others in reply to your juvenile outbursts. LibraryThing is generally a place for scholarly, respectful -- to other members -- discourse, which you do not seem capable of abiding by.
"The man was a psycho by many reports -- that is clear."
You're wrong. Simple as that. It's much more complicated than you think. At your age you should know better. You don't even know what the word "psycho" means. You mean like Norman Bates? You mean the medical term psychotic?
It's bizarre to me, this need of so many people to want Nixon to be the devil who is to blame for everything bad in politics, government, the '60/70s, and American history…and life itself. He is the target for hatred. He was no more evil than you or me. Maybe that is the hard thing to accept.
Great article on Nixon's paranoia and anti-antisemitism :
"How Paranoid Was Nixon?"
It wasn’t the crime, but it wasn’t the cover-up, either. Something more basic took down a president 33 years ago.
Long before prosecutors identified him as an unindicted coconspirator, Richard Nixon was a conspiracy theorist. In the last 10 years, the government has systematically declassified hundreds of hours of White House tapes recorded on a voice-activated system that President Nixon had the Secret Service install in the oval office. They reveal a textbook example of what historian Richard Hofstadter called “The Paranoid Style in American Politics.”
Any group can be the target of a conspiracy theory. Nixon targeted three -- Jews, intellectuals, and Ivy Leaguers. Their connection wasn’t logical, but political. Historian Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., summarized the reaction of the Republican bureaucratic old guard in the 1930s, when Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal brought new kids to town: “There were too many Ivy League men, too many intellectuals, too many radicals, too many Jews.” So when Congressman Dick Nixon, a young Republican from California on the House Un-American Activities Committee in the 1940s, played a prominent role in exposing the Alger Hiss spy ring (which contained the tiniest fraction of the Jews, intellectuals and Ivy Leaguers who worked in the New Deal, but more than enough to make the right wing feel vindicated) Nixon rocketed to political stardom. As Garry Wills has noted, Nixon entered his 30s having never held public office and exited his 30s having been elected Vice President of the United States. The Hiss case made him. Later it would unmake him.
Nixon drew lessons from the Hiss case about Jews, intellectuals and the Ivy League.
“Remember that any intellectual is tempted to put himself above the law.”
“The guys from the best families are most likely to develop that arrogance that puts them above the law.”
“If they’re from any Eastern schools or Berkeley, those are particularly the potential bad ones.”
“The Jews are born spies,” with an “an arrogance that says -- that’s what makes a spy. He puts himself above the law.”
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