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Richard Nixon, Reputation, and Watergate

  • Iwan W. Morgan
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Part of the The Evolving American Presidency Series book series (EAP)

Abstract

For Richard Nixon history was about the future not the past. When revealing to the Senate Select Committee on Presidential Campaign Activities (better known as the Ervin Committee) that his boss had routinely taped Oval Office conversations in secret, White House aide Alexander Butterfield remarked, “The President is very history-oriented and very history-conscious about the role he is going to play.”3 The recordings were mainly intended to provide source material for the writing of the presidential memoirs that Nixon hoped would shape his grandiose image for posterity. It was the supreme irony that their revelations of his misdeeds were the instrument of the downfall that would largely determine his place in history.

Keywords

Foreign Policy Guilty Verdict Nixon Administration American Historical Review Dirty Trick 
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Notes

  1. 1.
    H. R. Haldeman, The Haldeman Diaries: Inside the Nixon White House (New York: Putnam, 1994), 374.Google Scholar
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    Quoted in Stanley I. Kutler, ed., Abuse of Tower: The New Nixon Tapes (New York: Touchstone, 1997), xiv.Google Scholar
  3. 4.
    The cartoon is reproduced and analyzed in Daniel Frick, Reinventing Richard Nixon: A Cultural History of an American Obsession (Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 2008), 227, 229. It can also be viewed at The New Yorker http://cartoonbank.com.Google Scholar
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    Quoted in Jonathan Aitken, Nixon: A Life (London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1993), 535.Google Scholar
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  52. 38.
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  53. 39.
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    James Pfiffner, The Character Factor: How We Judge America’s Presidents (College Station TX: Texas A & M University Press, 2004), chapter 6 (quotation p. 139).Google Scholar
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    See also Rick Shenkman, “Remember Watergate?” History News Network, July 7, 2003, http://hnn.us/articles/1553.html.Google Scholar
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    Joan Hoff, email to HNN, undated, reproduced in HNN Hot Topics: The Watergate Transcript Controversy, February 4, 2009, http://hnn.us/articles/61197. For Hoff’s more extensive assessment of the tapes issue, including detailed criticism of Kutler’s Abuse of Rower editing, see Joan Hoff, “Why the Nixon Tapes Pose Problems for Scholars, John Dean, and the President,” The Nixon Era Times, www.watergate.com/stories/watergate.asp.Google Scholar
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    Guy Adams, “Nixon’s backers make last stand over Watergate,” The Independent, August 14, 2010, www.indepndent.co.uk. The full text of the Nixon Foundation letter can be accessed through a link [Nixon stalwarts’ 158-page critique] in Goffard, “A New Take on Watergate at Nixon Library.”Google Scholar
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    Karin Tanabe, “Nixon library re-examines scandal,” Politico, April 1, 2011, http://dyn.politico.com/clickGoogle Scholar
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© Michael A. Genovese and Iwan W. Morgan 2012

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