As dissecting Manics lyrics is one of my favourite pastimes, I often read interviews to see if they provide any clues about the songs. Nicky used to be quite mum on the topic of his confessional lyrics, but lately he seems to not give much of a shit. The Love of Richard Nixon sounds like another song about an American president (which, for the Manics, isn't all that rare). But then Nicky spilled the beans. From an interview on XFM:

"The main metaphor of the record is the idea of being tarnished with something your entire life, the way Nixon will always be tarnished with Watergate. For any good he ever did, no-one will remember it. And I think that goes for everyone in their personal life or their professional life, some people are just gonna remember Manic Street Preachers... well, London cabbies are especially; 'How's that nutter guitarist then? Has he turned up yet?'"

It's about Richey and Nixon, then. Many of the songs on Lifeblood are about two things, and one of those things is always Richey (see: Empty Souls, A Song for Departure, etc). Having read this interview, I went back to my liner notes, and I immediately saw parallels. The lyrics are far too personal to be about a politician.

The world on your shoulders
The love of your mother
The fear of the future
The best years behind you

The first line is Nixon's, the second Richey's. The world rests on a president's shoulders, but it's Richey's parents who still haven't given up on him. 'Fear of the future' could apply to both, though Richey often spoke of his childhood as being the happiest time of his life, while adulthood loomed menacingly ('There's nothing nice in my head / the adult world took it all away').

The world is getting older
The times they fall behind you
The need it still grows stronger
The best years never found you

Nixon has been left in the past. But what is this 'need'? Something is still affecting Nicky in the present, something that 'still grows stronger'. The only thing that comes to mind is the loss of Richey. The concept of the world aging is an interesting one, and brings to mind the image of someone remaining in stasis, always the same, while time passes by, unheeded. Richey again. Frozen in time.

The love of Richard Nixon

Surely it can't be a coincidence that these two people are both named Richard.

Death without assassination

Also double-sided: Nixon resigned, thus dying in the public eye without actually being killed. Richey ran away, fading into the background with uncertainty rather than definitive death.

The love of Richard Nixon
Yeah they all betrayed you
Yeah and your country too

Could be left open. Whose country, exactly, and whose 'they'? The parallels weave in and out.

Love built around the sandy beaches
Love rains down like Vietnam's leeches

It is widely theorized that Richey left because of love, which is all but confirmed in I Live to Fall Asleep ('How could you become another boy struck dumb with love'). Love becomes the antagonistic force just as mentioning Vietnam (love = war) brings the era back to Nixon.

Richard III in the white house
Cowering behind divided curtains

Richard III is a Shakespeare character who commits multiple murders and manipulates everyone in order to become king, though many of his subjects join his enemy's army, which defeats Richard's army and then kills him. This pertains to the 'betrayal' referenced in the song. The 'division' is likely an expression of being two-faced, just as Richard III had two different councils (one to bring him to power, the other as a facade supporting Edward for king).

People forget China and your war on cancer
Yeah they all betrayed you
Yeah and your country too

The song's only plea for something better - people 'forget' the good things, the good times; they judge without thinking; they attempt to naysay without knowing the whole story. This is a large part of the Manics' musical history.

Soundbyte: "In all the decisions I have made in my public life, I have always tried to do what was best for the nation. I have never been a quitter."

Oh, the bitter irony. Nixon resigned. Richey disappeared. So much for not being a quitter.

Lyrics from Lifeblood liner notes; interview transcription from