Nixon: The Triumph of a Politician begins with Nixon's telling the press "You won't have Richard Nixon to kick around anymore." He never meant it. Despite his claims, Nixon's political retirement was short-lived. He moved his family to New York City where he joined a prominent law firm. He became a successful corporate lawyer and, more importantly, reinserted himself into the political mainstream: traveling around the country, speaking out on ...
Nixon: The Triumph of a Politician begins with Nixon's telling the press "You won't have Richard Nixon to kick around anymore." He never meant it. Despite his claims, Nixon's political retirement was short-lived. He moved his family to New York City where he joined a prominent law firm. He became a successful corporate lawyer and, more importantly, reinserted himself into the political mainstream: traveling around the country, speaking out on the issues of the day, and doing what he did best -- criticizing the Democrats.
After the 1964 presidential election in which Lyndon Johnson trounced Barry Goldwater. Nixon set his sights on 1968. He stepped up his criticism of Johnson's Vietnam and domestic policies and began to assemble the savvy, image-oriented team that would take him to the White House: John Mitchell, John Ehrlichman, H.R. Haldeman, Pat Buchanan and William Safire. Nixon easily outmaneuvered his closest Republican rivals --Nelson Rockefeller and Ronald Reagan -- and won the Republican nomination in Miami.
In the general election Nixon faced a Democratic Party in turmoil. Fractured by Lyndon Johnson's abdication, Robert Kennedy's assassination, George Wallace's independent candidacy, and a violent convention in Chicago, the Democrats nominated Hubert Humphrey. Endorsed at last by Eisenhower, aided by the tough talk of his running mate, Spiro Agnew, and taking advantage of the quagmire in Vietnam, Nixon promised his own peace plan and edged ahead. On November 6, 1968, after staying up the night keeping a vote tally on legal pads in his suite at the Waldorf Astoria, Richard Nixon was finally elected president of the United States.
Nixon's first term began on a sour note--during the inaugural parade his car was pelted with eggs by anti-war protesters--and didn't get much better. By 1970, amid two failed Supreme Court appointments, rising tensions in the Middle East, continued domestic turmoil and the bloody stalemate in Southeast Asia, Nixon seemed as if he might be the second president in a row to serve only one term.
But, with the help of a talented administration, particularly his National Security Adviser, Henry Kissinger, Nixon engineered a remarkable turnaround. In a stunning tour-de-force, he achieved goals that had been beyond any of his predecessors: he opened the door to China, established détente with the USSR and got the first Cold War arms control agreement, while simultaneously withdrawing troops from Vietnam. At the same time, though, in preparing for the 1972 election, Nixon had begun to step outside the law to launch an attack on his enemies.
Although Nixon defeated George McGovern by a startling margin, he took no joy in his victory. This President knew what the rest of the country had yet to learn about Watergate, and he could anticipate that the Democrats, the bureaucracy and the media would be going after him.
Elegantly written, as exhaustively researched as Ambrose's definitive two-volume Eisenhower biography, Nixon: The Triumph of a Politician offers a balanced, unflinching portrait of one of the most complex and puzzling of our chief executives at the apogee of his career --rebounding from defeat to an innovative, high-risk presidency, already sowing the seeds of his ruin.