Any attempt to analyze and interpret the presidency of Richard Nixon faces major obstacles at the same time that significant insight may be achieved. In Hofstra University's sixth conference on the modern American presidency held on November 19-21, 1987, we sought to gain greater understanding of the Nixon Presidency through new insight from a conference of scholars, journalists, and administration officials through an exchange of views thirteen years after President Nixon left the White House. Recording these interactions is perhaps the unique contribution this volume of the conference proceedings makes toward gaining a better understanding of the Nixon Presidency.
Richard Nixon may well turn out to be the most influential figure of the second half of the second century of the American government under the Constitution. He pervades so many aspects of the political scene that we may eventually refer to this period as the Nixon era. After three days of intensive discussion in November of 1987, the complex nature of the man and the provocative actions of his tenure as the thirty-seventh president were more clearly evident. At that time, even as during his time in office, discussions of his presidency aroused extremes of reaction ranging from enthusiastic approval to strong antagonism. Our efforts to organize the conference were directed at providing balance in the discussions so that all points of view could be revealed. Your evaluation of this volume will determine how successful we have been in that effort.
This was the first time that a Hofstra presidential conference had focused on the presidency of a man who was still alive. There were some concerns that participants would somehow restrain their views or formulate those views differently, were this not the case. Fortunately, these concerns did not turn out to