in precipitous decline. And for the entirety of his troubled term he would face a Congress dominated by the opposing Democratic Party.
Any consideration of Richard Nixon's place in American history, whether in his dealings with the United Nations or with any other matter, must take account of the Watergate scandal, insofar as the scandal indicates a style of governing that affected his entire presidency. Nixon became the first, and so far the only, president to resign from office. Whatever long-term influence he may have had on America's relationship with the United Nations, the consequences of this grandest of all scandals also had an impact, both immediate and long-term, on the way the United States approached world affairs and on its relationship to the United Nations.
There is a certain irony in the fact that, as Nixon fell from grace—from 1973 to his resignation in 1974—pundits announced that the presidency in recent times had become "imperial," that is, beyond or above the control of normal constitutional or institutional constraints. 40 The charge has persisted in some quarters into the late twentieth century. Such a claim is of interest to this study, given our regard for America's role in the larger world, and the truism that the president is, by constitutional mandate, the country's foreign policy leader. It is thus useful to remember that, within less than two years from an overwhelming electoral victory, within a year and a half after he had risen to the highest poll ratings of his long career ( January 1973, at the moment of the Paris peace agreement on Vietnam), Richard Nixon, under pressure from Congress, the courts, and an independent media (all provided for in the Constitution) left office a humiliated man. Moreover, it is difficult to find in the ensuing presidencies of Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter much evidence of an "imperial presidency." Even the popular Reagan found himself reasonably restrained by opposition Democrats in Congress and by the Iran-Contra scandal. The president may be the most important player in the formulation and conduct of America's diplomacy, but as we can see throughout this study, he can be effective only by playing within the game's rules, provided in the intricate constitutional system bequeathed by our____________________