A President cannot have problems which are personal to him alone. His troubles are the troubles of the nation and if they become disastrous, the nation is in peril.
-- George E. Reedy, in The Twilight of the Presidency
In the second week of January 1971 the Republican National Committee was assembling in Washington for its midwinter meeting. It was nearly two years since the inauguration of Richard Milhous Nixon, the first authentic Republican politician to become President of the United States since Calvin Coolidge was elected in 1924, the heyday of the Grand Old Party. Whatever Nixon's identification problems with the rest of the country, he should have had none whatever here with the members of the National Committee, so many of whom he knew so well.
One Western committeeman, in particular, was a tried-and-true Nixon man, a party man who was called a member of the Old Guard in an earlier day and who now backed Richard Nixon as he once backed Robert Alphonso Taft. But on the evening of January 13, 1971, as members of the national committeemen gathered for cocktails at the Washington Hilton Hotel, this Westerner was preoccupied with thoughts about a most un-Republican letter to the editor published in that morning's Washington Post and signed by the distinguished historian and biographer Irving Brant. It was typical of the hard, sometimes brutal criticism that the academic community had leveled at Richard Nixon for a generation.