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The Presidency of Richard Nixon: Strengths and Weaknesses

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Richard Nixon’s presidency started January 20th, 1969. Before his life as president, he was born in Yorba Linda, California. The family experienced tragedy twice early in Richard's life. His younger brother died in 1925 after a short illness, and in 1933, his older brother, whom he greatly admired, died of tuberculosis. Nixon had a very successful school life, winning debates and elections and leading roles in school dramatic productions. His grades were excellent, at both Whittier College and Duke University's law school. His academic work wasn’t enough to get him into some of the law firms he applied for with the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Eventually he joined the Whittier law firm where he eventually met his wife Thelma Catherine 'Pat' Ryan. At the time, a group of Whittier republicans encouraged Nixon to run for congress against Jerry Voorhis and won a seat in the U.S House of Representatives. Although he ran for president in 1960, he lost to former senator John F. Kennedy.

Richard Nixon was considered as an untrustworthy man as the media usually unsure of his actions. This was because Nixon was a deeply insecure man who possessed a persecution complex and this shaped his interactions with political opponents and the press. Although he was lacking self-confidence that didn’t stop him from creating a strong image. In Nixon’s eyes, he saw public appearance as one, if not, the most important thing. And while he was busy to put on a positive image, it was easy to tell how paranoid he was of others. It came to the point to where he’d publicly admonishing former presidents and senior officials. Cases would include Jerry Voorhis whom had secret communist motives. Nixon’s team would later exploit this as an advantage for Nixon to win a seat in the House of Representatives. Although this was a good tactic, it would later blow up in his face with the Watergate scandal.

On June 17th, 1972, burglars were caught and detained in the office of the Democratic National Committee. Unfortunately, these men were connected to Richard Nixon during the time of his reelection campaign. While these men broke in, they were busy wire-taping electronics and taking several important documents from the office. It was already clear the president was for the republican side, and with this scandal it put Nixon in an extremely bad position. Fortunately for the Democrats, the first time the phones were tapped, they were done incorrectly. The second time the burglars came, a security guard caught the burglars in the act. And while it wasn’t automatically decided that the president was connected with the burglars, officials would eventually find the reelection campaign’s office number. When Nixon went up to give a speech in August, he made it clear that it wasn’t anyone’s fault at the White House. The majority of voters would believe Nixon and he would win a second term in 1972.

It would soon come to light that Nixon wasn’t being honest, and he arranged to provide hundreds of thousands of dollars in ‘hush money’ to the burglars. Five would plead guilty to avoid jail time while the other two would go to trial. It was later found that Nixon secretly taped all conversations that were held in the oval office. When Nixon released the tapes, it was clear that he was complicit to the Watergate scandal. Congress was close to impeaching Nixon, but he resigned before they could impeach him. Later, Gerald Ford would be sworn to presedency.

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This scandal was a form of presidental abuse, and the only positive outcome was how the American citizens became more aware of who to vote for in presidental campaigns.

Policy and legislative leadership

Nixon had a relativly good policy and the programs that were passed were beneficial for the nation. He started with a 100 million campaign on the war with cancer. This would lead to the creation of national cancer centers along with antidotes that could help the patient ease off the disease a bit. Nixon as well oversaw peaceful desegregation in southen schools. He conferenced with the last few states with dual schools and planned to intergrate blacks and whites without any violence. The last state to come to terms was Louisiana. He was planning it ultimately for the children to enter a new enviroment without any such violence. The former president as well combined the FBI and Special Task Forces together in order to eliminate organized crime. In due time the results would be over 2500 convictions by 1973. Richard Nixon as well altered the 26th Amendment, lowering the voting age from twenty one to eighteen years old in order to push righting votes to the youth of America.

Meneger of the economy and domestic policy

During the beginning of Richard Nixon’s presidency, the unemployment rate was low, but inflation was rising. Nixon adopted a policy of monetary restraint to cool what his advisers saw as an overheating economy. 'Gradualism', as it was called, placed its hopes in restricting the growth of the money supply to rein in the economic boom that occurred during Lyndon Johnson's last year in office. With Gradualism, it took time for result, but Nixon was an impatient man. He blew up on his chairman of Council and repeatedly demanded for reasons why the inflation problem wasn’t fixed. This led to Nixon overanalyzing whether or not he would be reelected into office for a second term. While the inflation problem started at three percent, it rose to around six percent in 1970. This would be a major issue, so Nixon reported to Arthur Burnes, the chairman of the Federal Reserve. Burns’ ordered Nixon to keep his budget under 200 billion dollars so Burns could keep money tight. In order to keep his word, Nixon delayed payment to federal employees by six months. This led to a strike by postal workers and although Nixon had it under control for a while, he ultimately loosened some of the budgeting Burns placed. At the end of his presidency, unemployment rates would reach up to a whoping twelve percent.

Although Watergate is possibly one of the most domestically known issues with Nixon, he did have several positive events happen. For one, he ended the military draft and changed it instead for civilians to volunteer. He also founded the Environmental Protection Agency in 1970 from all the rising concern pollution. The agency oversaw the passage of the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act and the Mammal Marine Protection Act.

Nixon was given a C because while he drove the economy to the toilet, his domestic affairs (besides Watergate) was relativly uplifting. He did care for his people, but he didn’t do a good job at maintaining a relatively good performance.

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The Presidency of Richard Nixon: Strengths and Weaknesses. (2022, September 01). Edubirdie. Retrieved December 6, 2023, from
“The Presidency of Richard Nixon: Strengths and Weaknesses.” Edubirdie, 01 Sept. 2022,
The Presidency of Richard Nixon: Strengths and Weaknesses. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 6 Dec. 2023].
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