Nixon Is Dead. Long Live Nixon.
He created the EPA, invested in medical research, desegregated the country, all the while making sure whites were scared senseless about their future.
Richard Nixon, the 37th president of the United States, died on this day in 1994. He was 81.
Nixon was complicated. Most well-educated historians have strong opinions about Nixon. Still, this self-described, somewhat mediocre one tends to view Nixon negatively while acknowledging his administration did establish a firm legacy policy.
Dick was born and raised in California, where he served as a U.S. Congressman and then-Senator. Two years into his senatorial term, Dwight D. Eisenhower tapped him as Vice President, where he served for the next eight years.
This, of course, set up one of the most contentious presidential elections in our history. Unlike the one we had in 2020, where Biden wiped the floor with the unpopular incumbent, Nixon looked to cement his legacy by winning the 1960 election.
All he had to do was defeat this pretty boy, John Fitzgerald Kennedy, of Massachusetts. Fortunately for Dick, the country wasn’t too keen on electing a Catholic president. Mount Rushmore with Nixon's face on it is all but a formality.
(Now, this is where I have to tell you about the book I read about this election. Making of a Catholic President, by Shaun Casey. It’s a fantastic piece of literature on the subject. I picked it up while at Harvard. Seriously, Harvard University. One of the libraries there. Before you ask, no, I didn't waltz in and take a book out of one of their multiple libraries. My girlfriend was completing a fellowship there, and I tagged along for some research days or whatever. I also bought a hat and a sweatshirt. Yes, I wear them on occasion, like stolen valor.
Anyway, this book is excellent. I read on the beach at St. Martin. I go back to St. Martin in 104 days, God willing. Get this book; it's good.)
We all know JFK pulled off the upset, most likely by stuffing ballot boxes in Chicago and probably Texas. (Both went Republican in 1956.) Remember, people, Democrats steal elections.
Devastated by the defeat, Nixon retreated to California, where he ran and lost the Governor's election. This is where he politely informed the world we wouldn't have Dick Nixon to kick around anymore.
Shockingly, Nixon lied to us and ran for president in 1968. Since they assassinated our greatest possible president ever, Bobby Kennedy, that summer, Nixon only had to defeat Hubert Humphrey, which of course, he did. Awesome.
During this time as president, Nixon ended the war in Vietnam, normalized relations with China, signed a bomb treaty with Russia, and did other foreign affairs stuff.
At home, he created agencies to protect the environment, launched some rockets into space, and focused on wartime alignments of soldiers coming home. Remove Nixon's name - these aren't bad deals. If Christopher Dake made these deals, you'd think he's a pretty good president.
However, somewhere along the way, the party of Lincoln decided to become the party of Davis, and this is where Nixon’s legacy gets upsetting. His Southern Strategy in the 1972 election proved quite productive. Convincing old confederates who thought the South would rise again and that Civil Rights would ruin the country, Nixon cake-walked to reelection.
Of course, we learned he tried to cover up a break-in in the Democrats' "Stealing Elections" Office. Nixon reluctantly agreed to resign when his own party wouldn't give him cover to avoid being impeached. Nixon also made the term "New Federalism," which was a strange way to explain the beginning of the "small government" concept, based on states' rights, which people today try and say was the real reason the Civil War happened.
Nixon has hovered around 34 on the DPPR. It's still the bottom third.
During the Trump administration, you see too many ties to Nixon's policies and the people he worked with. The guy has been dead since my senior year of high school, and people connected to him are still messing things up.
What’s your favorite Nixon tidbit? Is it Milhous? It’s Milhous, isn’t it?