High School Colloquium
STEPHEN E. AMBROSE, ROBERT H. FINCH, AND H. R. HALDEMAN
Well, good morning! I think there must be a fair amount of curiosity out there among you. It takes me back to when I was your age, and I remember adults being all excited about Franklin Roosevelt. Some of the grown men in my community actually hated the man. Others admired him. They would get into terrific arguments about Roosevelt. This was in the late 1940s, a few years after Roosevelt's death, and I could never understand what all the emotion was about.
Well, you are aware that there is a tremendous emotion among adults in this country about Richard Nixon. I guess there must be some curiosity on your part as to why your parents and their friends and indeed everybody over twenty-five years of age in the United States today has such an intense reaction to just the name Nixon. I have friends who get red in the face, the anger wells in them so much. That includes Nixon defenders. When you bring his name up, they get red in the face thinking about the press. Nixon's enemies get red in the face thinking about him. The drama of the resignation through Watergate is the number one reason, but by no means the only reason, for this continued grip that Nixon has on the emotions of the American people.
The first thing you need to understand is he was active in politics as a major figure longer than any other politician in this century. He became a major figure in the national political scene in 1946. He is today a major figure on the American political scene, in a much different situation, of course, but still a major figure, with his picture on a recent cover of Newsweek. There is, in addition, the Nixon personality, which perhaps, in the question period, you might want to get into, but he had a personality that rubbed an awful lot of people the wrong way and