On Presidential History: Richard M. Nixon and George W. Bush

Richard Milhous Nixon was an improbable president. He didn't particularly like people. He lacked charm or humor or joy. Socially awkward and an introvert, he had few friends and was virtually incapable of small talk. He didn't care to, in his words, "press the flesh." He was also one of our most complex presidents: insecure, self-pitying, vindictive, suspicious—even literally paranoid—and filled with long-nursed anger and resentments, which burst forth from time to time. He never seemed the happy warrior.

[She wanted a "Happy Warrior?!"]

— Elizabeth Drew, Richard M. Nixon, Macmillan, 2007

I think the record should show that this is one of those spontaneous things that we always arrange whenever the President comes in to speak, and it will be so reported in the press, and we don't mind, because they have to call it as they see it.

But on our part, believe me, it is spontaneous.


This house, for example -- I was thinking of it as we walked down this hall, and I was comparing it to some of the great houses of the world that I have been in. This isn't the biggest house. Many, and most, in even smaller countries, are much bigger. This isn't the finest house. Many in Europe, particularly, and in China, Asia, have paintings of great, great value, things that we just don't have here and, probably, will never have until we are 1,000 years old or older.

But this is the best house. It is the best house, because it has something far more important than numbers of people who serve, far more important than numbers of rooms or how big it is, far more important than numbers of magnificent pieces of art.


There is something else I would like for you to tell your young people. You know, people often come in and say, "What will I tell my kids?" They look at government and say, sort of a rugged life, and they see the mistakes that are made. They get the impression that everybody is here for the purpose of feathering his nest. That is why I made this earlier point -- not in this Administration, not one single man or woman.

And I say to them, there are many fine careers. This country needs good farmers, good businessmen, good plumbers, good carpenters.

I remember my old man. I think that they would have called him sort of a little man, common man. He didn't consider himself that way. You know what he was? He was a streetcar motorman first, and then he was a farmer, and then he had a lemon ranch. It was the poorest lemon ranch in California, I can assure you. He sold it before they found oil on it. {Laughter} And then he was a grocer. But he was a great man, because he did his job, and every job counts up to the hilt, regardless of what happens.

Nobody will ever write a book, probably, about my mother. Well, I guess all of you would say this about your mother -- my mother was a saint. And I think of her, two boys dying of tuberculosis, nursing four others in order that she could take care of my older brother for three years in Arizona, and seeing each of them die, and when they died, it was like one of her own.

Yes, she will have no books written about her. But she was a saint.


We think that when someone dear to us dies, we think that when we lose an election, we think that when we suffer a defeat that all is ended. We think, as T.R. said, that the light had left his life forever. Not true.

It is only a beginning, always. The young must know it; the old must know it. It must always sustain us, because the greatness comes not when things go always good for you, but the greatness comes and you are really tested, when you take some knocks, some disappointments, when sadness comes, because only if you have been in the deepest valley can you ever know how magnificent it is to be on the highest mountain.


And so, we leave with high hopes, in good spirit, and with deep humility, and with very much gratefulness in our hearts. I can only say to each and every one of you, we come from many faiths, we pray perhaps to different gods -- but really the same God in a sense -- but I want to say for each and every one of you, not only will we always remember you, not only will we always be grateful to you but always you will be in our hearts and you will be in our prayers.

Thank you very much.

— President Richard Milhous Nixon, Excerpts, Speech to White House staff the day prior to resigning the Office of President of the United States, August 8, 1974

It is in the interest of being "fair and unbiased," (the cliche of the moment) that I quoted one of Nixon's biographers first.

As empty as the accusations of impropriety against Richard M. Nixon may seem in light of the misdeeds and mistakes of the current administration may seem, at the time those accusations were lodged, they led some Americans to believe that we were a hair's breadth away from having a Dictator in the White House.

Well, guess what? The Presidency of the most incapable, inept and dishonest executive in the history of the United States is about to come to a close.

George W. Bush

I am of the opinion that if it were not for two conditions: a) the horrible events of September 11, 2001 and b) the failure of the Democrat party to present to the Nation a capable, charismatic candidate for the Nation's highest office, George W. Bush would not have enjoyed a second term as President of the United States of America.

What has George W. Bush done for the United States? The only significant achievement this writer can come up with is that he lowered taxes. In particular, he recognized that those Americans who would avoid the morass of credit card and mortgage debt and save their money and thereby invest in our economy, should be entitled to tax relief on the capital gains they realize.

The rest of Bush's Presidency has become a huge, festering pile of animal dung the likes of which could be associated only with the world's roster of administrative failures. Sure, he's no Baby Doc, nor even a Nikita Khrushchev nor Fidel Castro. He has done precious little in the interest of the majority of the people of this country, instead insidiously wreaking havoc on the middle class; driving many of them into poverty, while his comrades in the 1% club (those who enjoy the privilege of owning most of America's riches) were abetted in their quest for "more" and in fact enriched thereby.

Richard M. Nixon

The tip of the iceberg, Federal Subsidies, is a good example of Nixon's decisions which would benefit the American public. He told an aide that if Federal funds were to be doled out to local government, the politicos in local government would get some of the fallout; with which to feather their own nests.

More importantly, President Nixon made the decision to withdraw from Viet Nam. It was a messy affair.

Of course, far more American lives had been lost in Southeast Asia than in the current conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. But the end was what the nation wanted. Did Richard M. Nixon get any credit? Precious little, indeed. Instead of Americans crying out wherever they could "you've brought our boys home!" the populace said "Oh, that was a mess."

What on earth do you think will happen if we withdraw immediately from Iraq, or worse, Iraq and Afghanistan? I'd hazard a guess massive bloodshed the likes of which we've not seen in decades.

This piece is intended as an answer to those who'd still dare criticize Richard M. Nixon for misdeeds when contrasted with the misdeeds of our current administration. And as a coda to that, let's not forget Bill Clinton's amazing job at soiling the Office of the President and being brought up on impeachment charges himself.



  • Drew, Elizabeth, Richard M. Nixon: The American Presidents Series: the 37th President, 1969-1974, Macmillan, 2007 ISBN 0805069631

  • Richard Nixon's Speech to White House Aides on the Occasion of his Resignation: http://www.historyplace.com/speeches/nixon-farewell.htm

  • The writer's experience with the topic.

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