Richard M. Nixon: The Transformation Term Paper

Pages: 7 (2332 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: ≈ 9  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: American History

In his comments concerning his biography of Nixon, Roger Morris (1992) stated that "It is a truism in American political biography that we tend to give our presidents place and time. We make them native to the American soil in some way, whether it is Tidewater, Virginia, for Jefferson, or the dust of Abilene for Dwight Eisenhower, or Hyde Park for Franklin Roosevelt. We do that with some facility with perhaps one exception -- Richard Nixon" (in Friedman & Levantrosser 1992:238). According to Nixon biographers Rowland Evans, Jr. And Robert D. Novak (1972), Nixon was indeed an enigma that made placing Nixon squarely in place and time difficult. "For Nixon the politician, far more than Lyndon Johnson or John F. Kennedy or Dwight Eisenhower, concealed Nixon the man, and the man was, even to some of his close friends, an unbelievably complex, shy, remote and tense figure whose iron control seldom permitted anyone to glimpse the tumult inside" (4). Nixon, Novak and Evans note, was also a man who was cursed to live without even the appearance of charm. "He waged an endless battle to overcome that lack, but the effort usually fell short. At the root of this incapacity was his loneliness, and the loneliness was partly an inheritance of birth in a poor and undistinguished family, partly his environment as a poor boy, partly the harsh way politics had dealt with him" (1972:4). Nixon was not a great politician in this regard, since he never attached himself to powerful causes, and therefore lacked the political intimacies and camaraderies that so frequently serve to bond politicians together in common undertakings. In fact, Nixon's closest friends were not great leaders in the academic, business or political worlds or childhood pals, but a newly rich real estate speculator in Florida and the millionaire inventor of the aerosol valve, Charles (Bebe) Rebozo and Robert Abplanalp respectively (Evans & Novak 1972:5).

Term Paper on Richard M. Nixon: The Transformation Assignment

According to Dr. Henry Kissinger, Richard Nixon attempted to determine the fundamental national interest when confronted with foreign policy issues, the long-term objective, and sometimes in intricate extended conversations, in order to work out a strategy to achieve it. "Indeed, I would say the most important contribution that he intended to make to American foreign policy was not in the initiatives that were taken but in articulating an approach to foreign policy which could avoid the endless American oscillation between optimism and despair" (Kissinger in Friedman, Levantrosser & Nixon 1993:7). In this regard, Kissinger believes that the establishment of an all-volunteer armed force was, in terms of importance and magnitude and lasting effect, one of the top domestic accomplishments of the Nixon presidency.

In foreign policy, the ending of the military draft perhaps is exceeded on Nixon's scale of accomplishments only by the ending of the Vietnam War and the opening to China. "There is nothing to compare with it on the domestic policy side. Before Watergate effectively prevented the Nixon Presidency from achieving most of its blueprint, little had been accomplished of lasting significance in any major area of economic and domestic policy" (Friedman & Levantrosser 1993:176). According to these analysts, abolishing the draft and implementing the all-volunteer armed force that Nixon established in the 1970s will go down in history as one of the few major accomplishments he managed to achieve before the Watergate scandal engulfed him (Friedman & Levantrosser 1993). Today, some historians are even willing to forgive Nixon's entanglements in Watergate:.".. some will say part of the Watergate explanation is that he had too many enemies in Congress with an opposition party controlling the legislature" (Koenig in Friedman & Levantrosser 1992:234).


In the final analysis, Richard Nixon's image will continue to improve notwithstanding the stigma that Watergate provided. While perhaps not the greatest president who ever occupied the Oval Office, Nixon's contributions to the nation were in retrospect profound and lasting. According to his former secretary of state and national security advisor, Dr. Kissinger reported that, "Instead of our obsession with personalities or abstract moral judgments, he [Nixon] tried to define something for which there is little historical experience and very little precedent, namely, a permanent involvement of the United States in international affairs" (Kissinger in Friedman, Levantrosser & Nixon 1993:8).

Works Cited

Bochin, Hal W. Richard Nixon: Rhetorical Strategist. New York: Greenwood Press, 1990.

Evans, Rowland, Jr. And Robert D. Novak

Nixon in the White House: The Frustration of Power. New York: Vintage Books, 1972.

Flippen, J. Brooks. Nixon and the Environment. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2000.

Friedman, Leon, William F. Levantrosser, eds., and Richard M. Nixon. Cold War Patriot and Statesman, Richard M. Nixon. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1993.

Friedman Leon A. And William F. Levantrosser. Watergate and Afterward:… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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