Nixon's War, 1969–1970
January 20, 1969, the day on which Richard M. Nixon took the oath of office, was a gray and windy one. As the new president prepared to drive from the Capitol back to the White House for the inaugural parade, the Secret Service insisted on closing the top of the presidential limousine, for antiwar demonstrators had gathered along portions of Pennsylvania Avenue. After proceeding a few blocks through friendly crowds, Nixon spotted the hundreds of protestors pressing against police lines: some lifted a NLF flag; others chanted, “Ho, Ho, Ho Chi Minh, the NLF is going to win,” or “Four more years of death”; a few even hurled sticks, stones, beer cans, and bottles at the president's car.1 As soon as the demonstrators had been left behind, Nixon ordered his sunroof opened, but he was angry that a group of protestors, if only briefly, had held him captive within his own limousine. This was the first disruption of an inaugural parade in American history, and a reminder to the new president that the fierce passions aroused by the war in Vietnam had not subsided.
Nixon entered office under a cloud of doubt and mistrust. A minority president (the Democrats had retained control of the Congress) and a