Presidents and Protesters: Political Rhetoric in the 1960s

By Theodore Otto Windt Jr. | Go to book overview

5
Understanding Richard Nixon A Psycho-Rhetorical Analysis

To say that Richard Nixon is a complex mass of contradictions is to repeat a cliché of some thirty-five years' standing. He has worn many masks and played many roles. There is the sanctimonious Nixon chastising Harry Truman in 1960 for using foul language in telling Republicans to go to hell; the expletives-deleted Nixon telling John Mitchell on one of Watergate tapes, "I don't give a shit what happens. I want you all to stonewall it, plead the Fifth Amendment, cover-up, or anything else, if it'll save . . . the plan; the homey Nixon who cherishes a dog named Checkers, whose wife wears a respectable Republican cloth coat, and who loves hamburgers, "Really I do"; the imperial Nixon telling David Frost in a TV interview after he left office that when others break the law, it is illegal, but it is not illegal when he, as president, breaks the law; the hypocritical Nixon vowing never to give amnesty to draft evaders but accepting a "full and free pardon" for his allegedly illegal acts as president; the paranoid Nixon worrying about whether John Dean might not have concealed a miniature tape recorder to tape their conversations, even as he was secretly taping the conversation about his being worried about being taped.

If these paradoxes are not enough, look at the twists and turns of his political beliefs: Nixon, the archetypical anticommunist during his prepresidential years, once he becomes president opening the doors to the People's Republic of China and negotiating the SALT I agreements with the Soviet Union; Nixon, in 1969, pledging never

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