Nixon in the White House: The Frustration of Power

By Rowland Evans Jr.; Robert D. Novak | Go to book overview

II
Prelude at the Pierre

There was to be no Hundred Days or Great Society? to mark the beginning of the Nixon Administration; the style of the Presidency and its goals would become apparent only as the years wore on.

-- Theodore White, in The Making of the President 1968

Having brooded, dreamed and schemed for the Presidency for the last sixteen of his fifty-five years, President-elect Richard M. Nixon in November 1968 set up his transition headquarters at Manhattan's elegant Pierre Hotel, opposite Central Park, with only the vaguest intentions of what he would do with the immense power he had craved so long.

His knowledge of foreign affairs was encyclopedic and in the weeks just ahead would astonish those who had not known him before. And no President had had so detailed an understanding of the mechanics of American politics -- such significant trivia as knowing whether a Wisconsin state rally should be held in Milwaukee or Madison, and precisely how platform arrangements should be made. But there were deep and obvious gaps, surprising for one so long on the national scene, in his knowledge of the federal government and the Congress. From the gaps came the appalling vacuum of advance planning on how to organize and operate one of the biggest and most intricate governments in the world.

Those eight years as Dwight D. Eisenhower's Vice President

-9-

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