Free Essays from Bartleby | Richard Nixon was a president that dealt with many problems while he was in office, such as Vietnam, China, and civil rights.
Table of contents
- The Time of Illusion
- The election of 1968
- Slant Magazine
- Crises Under the Nixon Administration | The New Yorker
He would take special care to avoid the afflictions of the Johnson Administration in its last years. His would be a government of national unity. The war abroad and the strife at home were to be brought to an end. Where Johnson had been deceptive, the new President would be straightforward; where Johnson had been angry, he would be mellow; where Johnson had been secretive, he would be open.
New ideas would be welcomed, old enmities forgotten. The Cabinet would enjoy great independence, the staff would be subordinate, and the Congress would be restored to its rightful place as a co-equal branch in the conduct of foreign affairs. A widespread conviction took hold that the country would now enjoy a period of national cooling-off under the leadership of a modest, unpretentious, hardworking, practical-minded Administration. Nixon will be facing a series of new and developing situations. It would seem as if these new situations would markedly change life in America—for the better.
Nothing that the Nixon people said belied such expectations. There is none of the moralistic sense of good guys replacing bad guys. However, if a cure for the political diseases that had afflicted the Presidency and the nation in the Johnson years was all but universally expected, the measures for effecting the cure had not been announced. Once the new President was installed in the White House, a period of waiting for specific policies began.
During the first few months of the Administration, the Nixon men tended to evade these questions. I try to be a realist. The Nixon men began to speak as if the disorders of the last few years had arisen because there had been too much philosophizing in government, and not enough action. At the Justice Department, for instance, Kevin Phillips, a young assistant to John Mitchell, who was the new Attorney General, described the problems of criminal justice as primarily administrative.
For each national problem, it seemed, the White House had an administrative answer. New organizations began to proliferate. This council was described by some as a National Security Council for domestic policy; at the same time, George Romney, the new Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, was described as retaining full authority over his field.
Vice-President Agnew was placed in charge of a new organization, an Office of Intergovernmental Relations, which was to serve as a link between the federal government and state and local officials. Toward the end of February, the President sent his first message to Congress on domestic affairs.
Some of the Johnson Great Society programs, apparently, were to be continued, but others had fallen prey to reorganization. The wait for the Nixon policies continued. Early in , the President drew up contingency plans to cope with a possible uprising in the United States. In February, the President set off on a grand tour of Europe.
The Time of Illusion
For days, the smiling face of the President as he arrived in one European capital after another filled the newspapers. The trip, like so many things he had done since taking office, was strong on atmosphere and weak on substance. While the President was away, the fighting in Vietnam intensified, and upon his return from his European tour he was asked at a press conference whether the United States would renew the bombing of North Vietnam. We have several contingency plans that can be put into effect. Kissinger was privately assuring journalists that the war would be brought to an end soon.
Discussion of whether or not to grant amnesty to war resisters had begun. These were serious matters, but after the delirium of the war years they had an air of tameness and normality which was welcome. In mid-April, the Republican National Committee released a statement that seemed to indicate that the anticipated pacification of American political life by the Nixon Administration had been successfully accomplished. Nixon has made a dramatic impact on the national spirit. In March, , while the country was waiting to learn how the President was going to shape his broad aims into policies, he had taken the boldest action of his Presidency to date—but had taken it secretly.
He had expanded the war in Indo-China. Ordering a military action of unprecedented secrecy, he launched a bombing campaign against enemy forces in Cambodia. To keep track of the secret bombing, the military was obliged to set up an improvised command system, outside ordinary channels, that extended from the Commander-in-Chief down to the pilots and bombardiers. Some high military officials knew of the bombing, and some did not; the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff did, for instance, but the Secretary of the Air Force did not.
The election of 1968
In the field, records were falsified or destroyed. I could not keep these things [where the planes were bombing] in my mind, so I had to have specialists who kept them; and what we had to do for this case, and that case, and that case. The secret project soon acquired a secret domestic arm. In early May, a story in the Times revealed that American planes were bombing Cambodia. The leak of secret information greatly worried the new President. The President, H. Haldeman, and Henry Kissinger arranged to have certain of their own colleagues and five newsmen wiretapped, at least partly in the hope of discovering the source of the leak.
Kissinger supplied the names of several of his aides for tapping. No Cabinet Secretaries were tapped, but several of the men closest to them were.
They were William H. Even though it was the leak that had spurred the program of surveillance, what it amounted to was about as effective a program of spot-checking the private conversations of official Washington as one could put together with a handful of wiretaps, provided that one did not go as far as to tap congressmen or Cabinet members or the chief editors of the news organizations.
And, of course, whenever any of these people spoke with the people who were being tapped, one would hear them, too. All the taps except one were carried out by the F. The exception was the tap on Joseph Kraft. That was placed by the chief of security of the Republican National Committee, with the assistance of a Secret Service employee, under the direction of John Caulfield, a retired New York City policeman.
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Kraft did not, however, entirely escape the attention of the F. When he made a trip to Paris that spring, he was followed by William C. Sullivan, Assistant Director of the F. Caulfield, whom Haldeman had hired after interviewing him at the Nixon campaign headquarters in New York, had as his primary duty supervising political investigations of the personal lives of potential candidates of the opposition party.
Crises Under the Nixon Administration | The New Yorker
Ehrlichman had got his start in politics as a spy for Richard Nixon in the camp of a competing Republican candidate in the Presidential primaries of Leaders of democratic nations in wartime ordinarily have the comfort of knowing that their countrymen have freely chosen to share among themselves the terrible burdens of waging war. But President Nixon, by secretly ordering the bombing of Cambodia, had in effect taken the entire burden of the war on his own shoulders.
The tension, anger, rage, and grief of war, ordinarily diffused among a whole people, became compressed into the narrow zone of the White House.
The President had turned the Oval Office into an emotional high-compression chamber. The President, by his own actions, had isolated himself from the country. The gap that had been opened between the public and the executive branch in the Johnson years had been opened again. In the United States in which President Nixon lived, however, the war was growing, tension was building, and the level of suspicion had become so intense that he felt driven to spy on his own subordinates. The President had wanted to bring the country together, and he was bringing it together, but around an illusion—the illusion that the war would soon end.
A country that was looking forward to imminent peace was being led by a President who was heading deeper into war. In his secret, embattled, isolated world, the country might be called upon at any moment to muster its determination for new military campaigns, but for the time being the determination was all his own.
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He had been in office less than four months. As the war had continued, so had student protests against it. But in recent months the protests had taken a strange turn. The strategy of the militant students who led these particular protests was complex. The strategy often succeeded. University officials often did call in the police, who often did club and beat the students, thereby radicalizing moderate students who might otherwise have kept out of it all. This sequence of events was repeated over and over around the country.
To many people, in fact, the war and the anti-war movement were like two symptoms of a single disease, and now that the people were convinced that one symptom—the war—was about to disappear, they were all the more eager to have this second symptom disappear, too. One important voice on the subject was the editorial page of the Times.
The choice is now relatively simple. Either the administrators, faculty, and responsible student majority call the would-be professional revolutionaries to order, or the community at large will do so. On the contrary, the Times was concerned for the independence of the universities and feared that student rebellion might provoke a repressive response—perhaps from the Nixon Administration. In other editorials, the Times advised the Administration to let university authorities handle the situation in the universities.
The President, however, was attracted to the subject of student protest. His decision to expand the war and to expand it secretly had important consequences for his conduct of domestic politics. He had initiated new military campaigns, but how could he rally the people to victory when he had promised to end the war swiftly if it had not already been ended by Election Day, now six months past?
But if President Nixon could not rally the people against the enemy abroad, he could vent the natural passions of a wartime leader on the anti-war protesters at home. The strong feelings building up in the White House, blocked from direct expression, could be displaced to this secondary object. And to the public the protesters were, if anything, more acceptable than the Vietcong as a target of Presidential anger, for, unhappy though the public had grown with the war, it had perhaps grown even more unhappy with the rebellion against the war.
Eight policemen were also indicted. The demonstrators were accused of having violated a law recently passed by Congress which made it illegal to cross state lines to incite a riot. Two days after the indictments were handed up, the President, in one of the first major statements of his Presidency, addressed himself to the subject of student rebellion.
He sounded an apocalyptic note. Then he immediately involved it, by announcing, in the same statement, that Secretary Finch, of H.
He had already said more on this subject than on almost any other, although it was a subject that by his own account the federal government would leave alone. Drugs, crime, campus revolts, racial discord, draft resistance—on every hand we find old standards violated, old values discarded.