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Richard Nixon Essay

By wariobrosz Oct 16, 2012 1844 Words
Many people fail to realize that Nixon had accomplished some impressive feats as a

president. Instead, they all choose to look at negative things such as the Watergate Scandal and

the fact that he was one of the few presidents to be impeached. While these are important aspects

of his presidency, it is only right that Nixon’s accomplishments should be addressed as well.

Richard Nixon was a president associated with controversy and deceit; however he was regarded

as an able and versatile politician, so the grade that he receives is a B- .

The first real major event Nixon has to deal with is the Vietnam War. Nixon knew that

when he became president this was something he needed to put to end immediately . Knowing

that 300 American troops were dying every week, Nixon planned to slowly remove the

American soldiers from Vietnam. However In order to do so, Nixon had to destroy the North

Vietnamese base. Nixon approved a secret bombing campaign of North Vietnamese positions in

Cambodia in March 1969 (code-named Operation Breakfast) to destroy what was believed to be

the headquarters of the National Front for the Liberation of Vietnam. The Air Force considered

the bombings a success. He then proposed simultaneous substantial withdrawals of North

Vietnamese and American forces from South Vietnam one year after reaching a mutual

agreement. In June 1969, in a campaign fulfillment, Nixon reduced troop strength in Vietnam by

25,000 soldiers, who returned home to the United States. From 1969 to 1972 troop reduction in

Vietnam was estimated to be 405,000 soldiers.

This mutual agreement became known as the Nixon Doctrine, whereby the United States

would provide arms and aid—but not military forces—to its Asian allies, who would provide

their own military forces in resisting communist aggression. In other words, this was a strategy

of removing American soldiers while replacing them with Vietnamese troops. This was a

process more commonly known as “Vietnamization”. While this method was slow and time

consuming, it began to return American troops back home which was a good start for his

presidency. Under President Nixon, American involvement in the war steadily declined from a

troop strength of 543,000 to zero in 1973. Once American support was diminished, in 1975,

North Vietnam was able to conquer South Vietnam and formed one country.

Richard Nixon’s hope was to finally end the military draft here in America, so he began

to make advertisements on the television in order to attract more volunteers to the army, rather

than forcefully making people go. Military pay was also increased as an incentive to get people

to volunteer. The Gates Commission issued its report in February 1970, describing how adequate

military strength could be maintained without conscription and the plan to end the draft early

had failed, since the military draft had been extended to June 1973. Once American support

was diminished, in 1975, North Vietnam was able to conquer South Vietnam and formed one


All in all, Nixon’s take on the Vietnam War was a very wise one. From his perspective,

he probably did not have many options. He could’ve chosen to continue the war in some futile

attempt to try gaining victory. He could’ve also chosen to try and secure South-Vietnam as a non-

communist state; however he realized that what the American people protested mattered the

most. Nixon decided that the only effective thing he could do, which would also be in the best

interest of the country, was to pull all of the American troops out before any more harm could be

done. This task, in and of itself, was not an easy one to accomplish. Nixon could not just simply

pull the American troops out in a single day, so he would have to use “Vietnamization” .

Vietnamization was necessary because pulling out American troops slowly would mean the army

would get weaker, thus South Vietnam would gain the upper hand. Replacing American troops

with North Vietnam troop was a wise decision. Although the process was long and the outcome

was unclear from the start, Nixon handled the situation rather well.

The next major part of Richard Nixon’s presidency was his take on the economy. Again,

he would have a very difficult time dealing with this issue because he had to deal an issue that

has plagued countries for so long: inflation. Nixon would have to devise a plan that would

improve the economy while at the same time reducing the inflation. Besides facing a Democratic-

controlled Congress, the new Republican President will have to live until at least next summer

with budget decisions already made by the Johnson Administration. Moreover, the narrowness

of his election victory can hardly be interpreted as a mandate for sweeping economic change .

Even his aides admit that Nixon will be forced into the role of an "economic neuter," as one of

them puts it, during his first months in office.

In 1970, the Democratic Congress passed the Economic Stabilization Act, giving Nixon

power to set wages and prices; Congress did not believe the president would use the new

controls and felt this would make him appear to be indecisive. While opposed to permanent

wage and price controls Nixon imposed the controls on a temporary basis in a 90 day wage and

price freeze. The controls (enforced for large corporations, voluntary for others) were the largest

since World War II; they were relaxed after the initial 90 days. Nixon then spoke to the

American public, saying that by "Working together, we will break the back of inflation."

Another large part of Nixon's plan was the detachment of the dollar from the gold

standard. By the time Nixon took office, U.S. gold reserves had declined from $25 billion to

$10.5 billion. Gold was an underpriced commodity, as the dollar was overpriced as a currency.

Nixon removed to gold standard in the U.S. and as a result, he prevented other countries from

being able to claim gold in exchange for their dollar reserves. At the same time, this action

weakened the exchange rate of the dollar against other currencies. Nixon’s plan to reduced

inflation seemed to back fire on him, since the inflation only went up by driving up the cost of

imports. Nixon’s reasoning behind these decisions was that he felt the dollar should float freely

like other currencies.

As far as Nixon’s presidency goes in the economic department, it wasn’t as successful as

he wanted he wanted it to be. Nixon’s overall goal was to reduce the inflation while stimulating

the economy at the same time; however he was not able to accomplish this feat and actually

raised the inflation rather than bring it down. A Pay Board set wage controls limiting increases

to 5.5% per year, and the Price Commission set a 2.5% annual limit on price increases. The

limits did help to control wages, but not inflation. These limits were viewed as successful in the

short term and were popular with the public. The public felt that Nixon had been rescuing them

from price-gougers and from a foreign-caused exchange crisis. So at least from the public’s

perspective, Nixon managed to clear up a few problems citizens were asking to get fixed at that

very moment, but he failed to achieve anything important in the long run.

When it comes to civil rights, Nixon did make some strives for bettering the education of

the children. He started with the integration of public school in the South. Strategically, Nixon

sought a middle way between the segregationist George C. Wallace and liberal Democrats,

whose support of integration was alienating some Southern white Democrats. As a Quaker,

Nixon felt that racism was the greatest moral failure of the United States and concentrated on the

principle that the law must be color-blind. Nixon had intended to do exactly what the court had

ordered: desegregation. Nixon's Cabinet Committee on Education, under the leadership of Labor

Secretary George P. Shultz, quietly set up local biracial committees to assure smooth compliance

without violence or political grandstanding. "In this sense, Nixon was the greatest school

desegregator in American history," historian Dean Kotlowski stated. Author Conrad Black also

said: "In his singular, unsung way, Richard Nixon defanged and healed one of the potentially

greatest controversies of the time." Daniel Patrick Moynihan, Nixon's presidential counselor,

commented in 1970 “There has been more change in the structure of American public school

education in the last month than in the past 100 years.”

In that sense, Nixon has been very successful when it comes to the civil rights of the

American nation. He managed to greatly change the American school systems by removing all

segregation and began to slowly integrate colored schools in the South together. These decisions

were definitely best for the country as a whole, since segregation was holding many people back

from realizing that justice is color blind and that race does not matter.

As Nixon’s presidency drew to a close, he has had his most infamous event yet: The

Watergate Scandal. This became one of a series of scandalous acts involving the Committee to

Re-Elect the President. Nixon downplayed the scandal as mere politics, and his White House

denounced the story as biased and misleading. As the FBI eventually confirmed that Nixon aides

had attempted to sabotage the Democrats, many began resigning and senior aides faced

prosecution. The more Nixon tried to cover this scandal up when it first arrived only made him

seem more and more suspicious until the truth finally came out. The resignation speech was

delivered on August 8, 1974, at 9:01 p.m. Eastern time from the Oval Office of the White House

and was carried live on radio and television. The core of the speech was Nixon's announcement

that Gerald Ford, as Vice President, would succeed to the presidency, effective at noon Eastern

Time the next day. Around this announcement, he discussed his feelings about his presidential

work and general political issues that would need attention once he left. He never admitted to

criminal wrongdoing, although he conceded errors of judgment.

The Watergate Scandal really has nothing to do with Nixon’s overall presidency, but this

event is just too large to overlook. Nixon had betrayed the American people’s trust and he was

looked at with hate as he grew more unpopular as time went by. However Nixon’s presidency as

a whole was more or less very well done. While he could not fix the problems with the economy

and in fact made them worse, it managed to end the problems with North Vietnam. Where he

managed to improve school systems by banning segregation and utilized desegregation, he

tarnished his image with the Watergate Scandal. Nixon’s presidency had many pros and cons,

with an equal amount of good decisions to balance out the bad. However I feel that without

Nixon, America would not have the privileges it has today which we take for granted. Thus,

cementing the grade he had previously received, a B-.

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