THIRTY-SIX

Richard M. Nixon
1969-74

Richard M. Nixon (b. 1913), the first President ever to resign, was the most controversial of all our chief Executives. He was also one of the most elusive. H. R. Haldeman, his chief of staff, called him "inexplicable, strange, hard to understand," while special, assistant Raymond Price said he was like Churchill's Russia: a mystery wrapped in an enigma enclosed in a paradox. 1 To Harry Truman, however, there was no mystery. " Nixon," he once exclaimed, "is a shifty-eyed, goddam liar, and people know it."2 Truman's vehemence was understandable. Nixon launched his career in the late 1940s charging that the Truman administration was riddled with subversives and traitors; and in the fall of 1952, campaigning as Dwight Eisenhower's running mate, he said the Truman administration had "covered up this Communist conspiracy and attempted to halt its exposure."3

Then Nixon -- who had acquired the nickname "Tricky Dick" -- ran into trouble. In the midst of the 1952 campaign came the sudden revelation that some wealthy California businessmen were secretly supplementing Nixon's senatorial income with contributions of their own. Nixon insisted that the fund went to defray political expenses and was not spent for his personal use. He also insisted that the Communists were using the fund issue to smear him. But Eisenhower, who insisted that his running mate be as "clean as a hound's tooth," was inclined to drop Nixon from the ticket. 4 On September 23, there

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