Nixon in the White House: The Frustration of Power

By Rowland Evans Jr.; Robert D. Novak | Go to book overview
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III
The President's Men

The first impression that one gets of a ruler and of his brains isfrom seeing the men that he has about him.

-- Niccolò Machiavelli, in
The Prince

Some [assistants] . . . acknowledge, that if the [staff] system as it has evolved to date is judged by some of the results, the President ought to be even more dissatisfied than he is said to be.

-- John Osborne, in The Nixon Watch

On the morning of April 7, 1969, the Cabinet-level Urban Affairs Council convened at the White House, Richard M. Nixon presiding, to engage in a dialogue that would not have been faintly conceivable a few months before. At issue was the Model Cities program, and nothing symbolized more clearly Lyndon B. Johnson's Great Society at its worst: a program grandiose and euphoric in its conception, raising lavish hopes, but undernourished in its planning and financing. In theory, Model Cities was supposed to select certain poor neighborhoods of certain cities for an infusion of federal funds for projects that would then serve as a "model" for other communities. In practice, the program was a shambles. When the Republicans took over on January 20, they found an unwelcome legacy left them by the Democrats at the Department of Housing and Urban Development ( HUD). There was no clear blueprint of either how the

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