Unformatted text preview: Nixon and America's "Long Nightmare" Background American Weaknesses Viet Nam and Credibility Gap Racial Tensions Counter Culture and Generation Gap Political instability: LBJ, RFK, MLK Jr., etc. Economy "Super Power" status (only shared with USSR because of their nuclear arsenal) Strong Moderate-Liberal consensus at political center American Strengths Goldwater only ideological candidate in 25 years, he is badly defeated 1968-1976 could have been... A Tale of Two Possible America's First manned landing on the Moon, 1969 American troops fire into unarmed student protestors at Kent State, 1970 U.S. in full retreat internationally Confidence in Federal government shattered Belief in consensus gone ("Me" decade) Economy in free fall Epilog (we know how this ends) Globalization High Technology changes to industry Republicans "don't care" about the poor or people of color Democrats are "liberals" who "throw money at the problem" and trust government over the private sector American politics turns nasty Nanny Yuppies Opponents are enemies, unpatriotic, evil, corrupt, un-American, traitors, etc.... Gone are assumptions about agreement/consensus Two Critical Events Beyond the Control of American Politicians #1 Energy Crisis 1973 Oil Embargo Gas Prices rise by 350% Fuels inflation in stagnant economy So what? OPEC #2: A Cooling U.S. Economy "Globalization" Manufacturing is cheaper in "Newly Industrialized Countries" More modern industrial-capitalist economies are more productive (capital "flows" there in a free market) Japan, Germany, Taiwan "Competition" U.S. economy harmed by military expenditures U.S. prepared to fight two world wars Maintain large arsenal of nuclear and conventional weapons Richard M. Nixon Thomas Macauley: "When history is properly written, there will be no need for novels." Ralph Waldo Emerson: "There is no proper history, only biography." Greek tragedy: downfall due to character Early Years Yorba Linda, California (1913) Whittier College Duke Law School "Iron Butt" Lt. Commander, USN 1946 - House Jerry Voorhis HUAC Helen Gahagan Douglas "Tricky Dick" 1950 Senate 1952-1960, VicePresident of U.S. "Checker's Speech" Stigmatizes young politician Dtente, active Krushchev Latin America Political Moderate Active Campaigner 1960, President? Young, but experienced No support from Eisenhower Generation Gap "Missile Gap" "Losing" Latin America Civil Rights Defensive 1962 Governor of California Career in Decline? Feels "sorry" for the press because they "don't have Nixon to kick around any more" Still not as bad as Goldwater, 1964 Mudge & Rose Miserable Re-invents image the "New Nixon" Out of step with Counter Culture and 1960s Wall Street Lawyer, 1964-1968 "Returns" again, 1968 1. 1. He would remember "forgotten" America 1968, Nixon's Messages Who is this group? Richard Bergholtz: "In the 1968 campaign he came out to speak at San Jose State Univ. -- this was at the very height of the student unrest. When he finished his speech -- to a very carefully selected audience -- he walked outside, and there were all these screaming kids. He was in no great physical danger at that moment [but, rather than leave quickly and quietly] He jumped on the hood of his limousine and waved his arms and gave them a V sign. And then got down and said `Those kids hate this.'" 1. 2. Attacks "spoiled kids" of the '60s 3. America beset by "Enemies," not opponents Messages (cont.) Politics of destruction Alexander Butterfield (Special Assistant to the President): "One day [H.R. Haldeman] came into the office and said, `Mr. President, here is a list of the journalists that are going on the China trip.' And I'll never forget this; this is typical of Richard Nixon -- why doesn't he just relax?! He is the President of the United States for God's sake -- but he carried these resentments. Do you think it was Haldeman who made up the `enemies list?' No! It was the president... he takes his pencil and reads the press list and sees some guy's name, and goes `Bob, what is this?' and he puts his pencil right through the paper, he's pressing so hard. He doesn't just cross him off. `What is this son-of-a-bitch doing here?' Bob comes over and looks and says `well, he is the bureau chief.' Nixon says `Don't you remember those articles he wrote back there in the gubernatorials?' meaning 1962!! ... I don't think people really know how deep these resentments were. He hated with a passion, and I don't know if anyone has quite captured it yet." Messages (cont)
4. Nixon taps into racial and cultural bitterness
of white America Those who say "it wasn't like this before those people started to complain" "White Backlash" and rise of cultural conservatives Nixon: "As we look at America, we see cities enveloped in smoke and flame. We hear sirens in the night. We see Americans looting each other, killing each other at home. And as we see and hear these things, millions of Americans cry out in anguish: did we come all this way for this? Did American boys die in Normandy and Korea and in Valley Forge for this? Listen to the answers to these questions. It is another voice, it is a quiet voice in the tumult and the shouting. It is the voice of the great majority of Americans, the forgotten Americans, the non-shouters, the nondemonstrators." John Ehrlichman: "There were subliminal racial messages in a lot of Nixon's campaigning. It was subtler than code words. It was 'I'm on your side. I am going to deal with it in a way you'll approve of.' I know he saw Johnson's embrace of blacks as an opportunity." Unfair Criticism? Don't all politicians use social divisions for personal political gains? Yes, but... 1968 was a particularly divisive period (Viet Nam, Counter Culture, Civil Rights, etc. etc.) Nixon recognized these divisions as particularly dangerous for American society Nixon added fuel to the fire by charging his political opponents with being "enemies" of the state Disloyal, un-patriotic, radical, etc. The press now seen the same way The "Nixon Style" becomes the American style by the mid-1970s Nixon accepting Rep. nomination for President, 1968 Seen again in the mid-1990s with Newt Gingrich and impeachment, G.W. Bush Administration But not so fast... the "Other" Nixon International Affairs Dtente Triangulation (USSRUS-China) Arms Controls (ABM, SALT) Very Liberal Domestic Policy The "Other" Nixon Wage & Price Controls (to curb inflation; OPEC) Public Employment Policies
Emergency Employment Act (1971) Comprehensive Education and Training, (CETA, 1971) Environmental Issues
EPA (1970) Water and Air (1970) OSHA Family Assistance Planning Civil Rights Enforced But not advanced The "Other" Nixon Howard Philips, Director Office of Economic Opportunity (OEO): "Nixon was a liberal; there is no question about it. Go back to his career in Congress... more foreign aid, more support for international organizations. Look at the people he chose in these areas, like Kissinger. If you look at his economic policy, he supported price controls, closing the gold (standard) window, the creation of regional governments. He basically institutionalized and expanded the Great Society; he was the one who perpetuated it; he was far more culpable than Lyndon Johnson. ... It was his administration that institutionalized the quota system, subsidized forced busing, heavily promoted abortion... So across the board -- on all the key issues of the day... the politics of his government were very, very left." Sentiment echoed by George McGovern: "every time we pushed them to go a little further than they were inclined to go, they did it. To whatever extend the food shipment program -- the special program for women, children and infants, and the senior citizens program -- Meals on Wheels -- that whole range of nutritional and food assistance programs when, they had a pretty good record." Watergate Wrong: "Everyone did it, Nixon just got caught" Only president to knowingly abuse the power of the office for personal gain or protection Used CIA to influence FBI to cover-up criminal proceedings Character Foreign Policy Style Right: Why? Foreign Policy Secrecy Nixon distrusts political allies in his own Cabinet Nixon conducts foreign policy directly and secretly
Henry Kissinger, National Security Advisor Reports directly to Pres., not to the State Dept. "Shuttle Diplomacy"
Ending Viet Nam War Normalization w/China Dtente w/USSR "The Pentagon Papers" June, 1971 Released by Daniel Ellsberg Evidence of lies told by Eisenhower, Kennedy, and LBJ to American public about US involvement in Viet Nam No dirt on Nixon, but Nixon fears embarrassing documents about his admin. may appear Demands an end to "leaks" Nixon to Ehrlichman: "If we can't get anyone in this damn government to do something about [the leaks], then, by God, we'll do it ourselves. I want you to set up a little group right here in the White House. Have them get off their tails and find out what's going on and figure out how to stop it." If you have "leaks" at home, you call a "plumber" Pentagon Papers lead to "Plumbers" Very important to narrative of Watergate, but much more... Pentagon Papers show "self-corrective" nature of a healthy democracy A Sidebar: The Pentagon Papers
Congress and Courts clearly minor powers by 1972 Presidency was all-powerful Investigative Journalism emerges as check on this power (Constitution allows this freedom) Investigative journalists feel legally protected in investigating Viet Nam War, in spite of white-hot pressure by White House When Watergate "breaks," journalists no afraid to follow the trail Legitimizes criticism "Good" and loyal Americans can disagree over our Cold War policies There can be a public dialog over foreign policy without undermining "National Security" Supreme Court rules on legality of publication Shows American public that many within President's inner-circle (1954-1968) were also critical of our role in Vietnam Nixon Administration Clearly Alarmed by Publication H.R. Haldeman to President Nixon, Monday, 14 June 1971, 3:09 p.m. meeting: "But out of the gobbledygook, comes a very clear thing: you can't trust the government; you can't believe what they say; and you can't rely on their judgment; and the implicit infallibility of presidents, which has been an accepted thing in America , is badly hurt by this, because it shows that people do things the President wants to do even though it's wrong, and the President can be wrong." Agree to form "the Plumbers" "Plumbers" Marx Brothers would have been better G. Gordon Liddy (ex-FBI) E. Howard Hunt (ex-CIA) David Young (aide to Kissinger) Egil Krough (aide to Nixon) Hung sign saying "Plumbers" on their door in the White House! Broke into Ellsberg's psychiatrist's office (9-3-71), leave numerous indications of a break-in (broken window, filing cabinets, etc) To "cover up" their botched job, they smash the office; break furniture, destroy medical files, and generally act like the amateurs they were Ehrlichman and Haldeman rightly distrust "plumbers" Fall, 1972, move to Committee to Re-Elect the President (CREEP) headed by Att'y Gen'l John Mitchell, close friend of Nixon Search for landslide over McGovern "Plumbers" disbanded? Nixon fears "12th hour" move on Viet Nam by Democrats Wants information, Democrat's strategy Rants to Mitchell and others Break-In: June, 1972 Plumbers form 5-man team headed by James McCord (ex-CIA); all five arrested during break-in, 6/17/72 3 Cubans, 2 ex-CIA Break in to office of Larry O'Brien, head of Democratic National Committee All five carried White House IDs, business cards of Liddy and the others! But by them, he had already ordered CIA to cover-up the investigation Larry O"Brien as NBA Commissionar, 1975-1984, with the trophy that now bears his name By 6/22, Nixon denies involvement Break #1: James McCord, March, 1973 McCord willing to testify to Fed. Judge John Sirica Names Jeb Magruder (CREEP), Chuck Colson (CREEP), and John Dean Dean is Council to the President (Nixon's lawyer) Senate subpoenas all three Anger? Hears of large payoffs to other burglars, he gets none Loyalty? Wants to shield CIA of (false) charges that they were spying on American political parties Haldeman, Ehrlichman, and Att'y Gen'l Kleindienst all resign John Dean fired set up as fall guy
James W. McCord and Watergate "bugging" device Why does McCord talk? April, 1973 (sacrificial blood-letting?) May, 1973 Special Prosecutor named to investigate growing controversy: who ordered the break-in? Break #2: John Dean's Senate Testimony June 25-29, 1973 Informs Nixon that cover-up acts as a "cancer growing on the Presidency" Dean: Nixon aware and complicit in a cover-up But no proof (and Dean not a "likeable" character) Break #3: The Tapes Alexander Butterfield USAF, Decorated Viet Nam Veteran (Distinguished Flying Cross), Chair Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), lifelong Republican Real pinko-lefty "I said to myself, if they ask me about the tapes -- if they ask a fuzzy question -- I'll give a fuzzy answer. I never in a million years dreamed they would ask about the tapes. ... They opened by throwing this memo at me. It wasn't a memo, it was a true manuscript. It said "P" and it had some verbatim stuff there... They said 'Where might this have come from?' I said 'Gee' and I'm thinking: I know where it came from -- the president had great retentive powers, but not this good. ... And to my great relief, they got off that subject. About four hours later... As we were finishing [a Senate staffer] picks up this piece of paper, which had been lying there for four hours, and [asks] ... 'Mr Butterfield, was there ever any other kind of tape-recording system in the Oval Office?' I said to myself, that's the direct question... So I just told them." To Republican counsel Donald G. Sanders: "everything was taped... as long as the President was in attendance. There was not so much as a hint that something should not be taped." The Nightmare Continues and the End Approaches In the middle of these proceedings, Nixon's VP, Spiro Agnew, is found to have accepted bribes while once governor of Maryland!! Agnew resigns, Gerald Ford named new VP Tapes ordered to be released by special prosecutor Nixon refuses - Constitutional Crisis Nixon has special prosecutor fired! Two at Justice Dept. refuse to do so; they too are fired; "Saturday Night Massacre" Nixon releases "edited" transcripts, then some tapes One shows 18-1/2 minute "gap" (erasure) Nixon's Sec't Rosemary Woods demonstrates how she might have accidentally erased tapes (had to sit like this accidentally for 18-1/2 minutes) "Smoking Guns" Nixon named criminal coconspirator by grand jury July 24, 1974 (Nixon v. U.S.) Supreme Court rules tapes must be released Reveal: June 20, 1972 18-1/2 minute gap Nixon discusses options to silence investigation Nixon instructs staff to contact CIA to tell FBI to call off investigation Later that day, Haldeman and Ehrlichman meet with CIA to do this June 23, 1972 Impeachment and Removal Three grounds for impeachment cited, July 27, 1974: Obstruction of justice (guilty) Abuse of power (debatable but moot after #1) Unlawfully denying subpoenas (guilty) Nixon learns he will be impeached by House Only 15 Senators pledge to support him (willing to fight in Senate if he could get to 33) August 5, 1974, House hears "smoking gun" tapes August 8, 1974, Nixon addresses the public; resigns the next day. Last speech typical of Nixon's political style Resigns due to lack of "political" support (enemies), not because he is guilty of crimes "Dangerous" for the U.S. for him to do so [National Security risk] "Personal Agony" [like "Checkers" speech, we're to feel sorry for him] Never been a "quitter" Sees himself as the "Man in the Arena" "fails while daring greatly" [Watergate is daring greatly?!?] Nixon Resigns Outlines political "style" of the 80's, 90's, and 00's: attack, never give in to political "enemies" Conclusions
1. Nixon's political success was largely in exploiting (not healing) the fundamental weaknesses in the U.S. during the era If no Watergate, he still would be seen as the worst type of politician He personally "wins," but the way he does hurts the U.S. political process 1. The "Other Nixon," in many ways, was the most successful president of the late modern era for his ability to compromise and work deals (LBJ had large DEM majorities in Congress) Domestic legislation impressive Foreign policy substantive "Honorable peace" to Viet Nam (at least we got out) Conclusions
3. One of Nixon's gravest sins was in abusing the trust American's had for their republican government This is a threat to democracy (remember Great Depression and rise of Fascism in Europe) 4. The way Nixon was defeated cleared the decks of America's two modern parties. Short-term gains by Liberal Democrats; soon exploited through political methods pioneered by Nixon and "culture wars" Conservative lurch of Republicans; ties the hands of Moderate Republicans who once supported Nixon Conclusions
5. Nixon remains one of the most complicated presidents of the modern era Mostly because of his character/personality/moral values Alexander Butterfield: I remember Nixon as "such a strange, strange fellow. I remember hearing Haldeman say in a 1975 interview that he thought Nixon was the strangest man he'd ever met. I was glad to hear Bob express himself that way. It helped me realized that I wasn't crazy, for I'd felt for some time, even then, that Nixon was the strangest man I'd ever met, too." Nixon biographer Stephen Ambrose: "a character no novelist would dream of inventing. I make no claim to finding the key to the man; he's so complicated it would take Shakespeare to do him justice." ...
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