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Sweet, Sweet Memories. 40 Years Ago Today, 8/8/74


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Erm. 8/9/74. Whaddayawant? I'm really, really stoked in celebration. We are very close to crushing his obscene drug policy.

 

Nixon Resigns

 

nixresig.jpg
Richard Nixon announces
his resignation in 1974.
AP File Photo

By Carroll Kilpatrick
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, August 9, 1974; Page A01

Richard Milhous Nixon announced last night that he will resign as the 37th President of the United States at noon today.

Vice President Gerald R. Ford of Michigan will take the oath as the new President at noon to complete the remaining 2 1/2 years of Mr. Nixon's term.

After two years of bitter public debate over the Watergate scandals, President Nixon bowed to pressures from the public and leaders of his party to become the first President in American history to resign.

"By taking this action," he said in a subdued yet dramatic television address from the Oval Office, "I hope that I will have hastened the start of the process of healing which is so desperately needed in America."

Vice President Ford, who spoke a short time later in front of his Alexandria home, announced that Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger will remain in his Cabinet.

The President-to-be praised Mr. Nixon's sacrifice for the country and called it "one of the vary saddest incidents that I've every witnessed."

Mr. Nixon said he decided he must resign when he concluded that he no longer had "a strong enough political base in the Congress" to make it possible for him to complete his term of office.

Declaring that he has never been a quitter, Mr. Nixon said that to leave office before the end of his term " is abhorrent to every instinct in my body."

But "as President, I must put the interests of America first," he said.

While the President acknowledged that some of his judgments "were wrong," he made no confession of the "high crimes and misdemeanors" with which the House Judiciary Committee charged him in its bill of impeachment.

Specifically, he did not refer to Judiciary Committee charges that in the cover-up of Watergate crimes he misused government agencies such as the FBI, the Central Intelligence Agency and the Internal Revenue Service.

After the President's address, Special Prosecutor Leon Jaworski issued a statement declaring that "there has been no agreement or understanding of any sort between the President or his representatives and the special prosecutor relating in any way to the President's resignation."

Jaworski said that his office "was not asked for any such agreement or understanding and offered none."

His office was informed yesterday afternoon of the President's decision, Jaworski said, but "my office did not participate in any way in the President's decision to resign."

Mr. Nixon's brief speech was delivered in firm tones and he appeared to be complete control of his emotions. The absence of rancor contrasted sharply with the "farewell" he delivered in 1962 after being defeated for the governorship of California.

An hour before the speech, however, the President broke down during a meeting with old congressional friends and had to leave the room.

He had invited 20 senators and 26 representatives for a farewell meeting in the Cabinet room. Later, Sen. Barry M. Goldwater (R-Ariz.), one of those present, said Mr. Nixon said to them very much what he said in his speech.

"He just told us that the country couldn't operate with a half-time President," Goldwater reported. "Then he broke down and cried and he had to leave the room. Then the rest of us broke down and cried."

In his televised resignation, after thanking his friends for their support, the President concluded by saying he was leaving office "with this prayer: may God's grace be with you in all the days ahead."

As for his sharpest critics, the President said, "I leave with no bitterness toward those who have opposed me." He called on all Americans to "join together . . . in helping our new President succeed."

The President said he had thought it was his duty to persevere in office in face of the Watergate charges and to complete his term.

"In the past days, however, it has become evident to me that I no longer have a strong enough political base in the Congress to justify continuing that effort," Mr. Nixon said.

His family "unanimously urged" him to stay in office and fight the charges against him, he said. But he came to realize that he would not have the support needed to carry out the duties of his office in difficult times.

"America needs a full-time President and a full-time Congress," Mr. Nixon said. The resignation came with "a great sadness that I will not be here in this office" to complete work on the programs started, he said.

But praising Vice President Ford, Mr. Nixon said that "the leadership of America will be in good hands."

In his admission of error, the outgoing President said: "I deeply regret any injuries that may have been done in the course of the events that led to this decision."

He emphasized that world peace had been the overriding concern of his years in the White House.

When he first took the oath, he said, he made a "sacred commitment" to "consecrate my office and wisdom to the cause of peace among nations."

"I have done my very best in all the days since to be true to that pledge," he said, adding that he is now confident that the world is a safer place for all peoples.

"This more than anything is what I hoped to achieve when I sought the presidency," Mr. Nixon said. "This more than anything is what I hope will be my legacy to you, to our country, as I leave the presidency."

Noting that he had lived through a turbulent period, he recalled a statement of Theodore Roosevelt about the man "in the arena whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood" and who, if he fails "at least fails while daring greatly."

Mr. Nixon placed great emphasis on his successes in foreign affairs. He said his administration had "unlocked the doors that for a quarter of a century stood between the United States and the People's Republic of China."

In the mideast, he said, the United States must begin to build on the peace in that area. And with the Soviet Union, he said, the administration had begun the process of ending the nuclear arms race. The goal now, he said, is to reduce and finally destroy those arms "so that the threat of nuclear war will no longer hang over the world." The two countries, he added, "must live together in cooperation rather than in confrontation."

Mr. Nixon has served 2,026 days as the 37th President of the United States. He leaves office with 2 1/2 years of his second term remaining to be carried out by the man he nominated to be Vice President last year.

Yesterday morning, the President conferred with his successor. He spent much of the day in his Executive Office Building hideaway working on his speech and attending to last-minute business.

At 7:30 p.m., Mr. Nixon again left the White House for the short walk to the Executive Office Building. The crowd outside the gates waved U.S. flags and sang "America" as he walked slowly up the steps, his head bowed, alone.

At the EOB, Mr. Nixon met for a little over 20 minutes with the leaders of Congress -- James O. Eastland (D-Miss.), president pro tem to the Senate; Mike Mansfield (D-Mont.), Senate majority leader; Hugh Scott (R-Pa.), Senate minority leader; Carl Albert (D-Okla.), speaker of the House; and John Rhodes (R-Ariz.), House minority leader.

It was exactly six years ago yesterday that the 55-year-old Californian accepted the Republican nomination for President for the second time and went on to a narrow victory in November over Democrat Hubert H. Humphrey.

"I was ready. I was willing. And events were such that this seemed to be the time the party was willing for me to carry the standard," Nixon said after winning first-ballot nomination in the convention at Miami Beach.

In his acceptance speech on Aug. 8, 1968, the nominee appealed for victory to "make the American dream come true for millions of Americans."

"To the leaders of the Communist world we say, after an era of confrontation, the time has come for an era of negotiation," Nixon said.

The theme was repeated in his first inaugural address on Jan. 20, 1969, and became the basis for the foreign policy of his first administration.

Largely because of his breakthroughs in negotiations with China and the Soviet Union, and partly because of divisions in the Democratic Party, Mr. Nixon won a mammoth election victory in 1972, only to be brought down by scandals that grew out of an excessive zeal to make certain he would win re-election.

Mr. Nixon and his family are expected to fly to their home in San Clemente, Calif. early today. Press secretary Ronald L. Ziegler and Rose Mary Woods, Mr. Nixon's devoted personal secretary for more than two decades, will accompany the Nixons.

Alexander M. Haig Jr., the former Army vice chief of staff who was brought into the White House as staff chief following the resignation of H.R. (Bob) Haldeman on April 30, 1973, has been asked by Mr. Ford to remain in his present position.

It is expected that Haig will continue in the position as staff chief to assure an orderly transfer of responsibilities but not stay indefinitely.

The first firm indication yesterday that the President had reached a decision came when deputy press secretary Gerald L. Warren announced at 10:55 a.m. that the President was about to begin a meeting in the Oval Office with the Vice President.

"The President asked the Vice President to come over this morning for a private meeting -- and that is all the information I have at this moment," Warren said.

He promised to post "some routine information, bill actions and appointments" and to return with additional information" in an hour or so."

Warren's manner and the news he had to impart made it clear at last that resignation was a certainty. Reports already were circulating on Capitol Hill that the President would hold a reception for friends and staff members late in the day and a meeting with congressional leaders.

Shortly after noon, Warren announced over the loudspeaker in the press room that the meeting between the President and the Vice President had lasted for an hour and 10 minutes.

At 2:20 p.m., press secretary Ziegler walked into the press room and, struggling to control his emotions, read the following statement:

"I am aware of the intense interest of the American people and of you in this room concerning developments today and over the last few days. This has, of course, been a difficult time.

"The President of the United States will meet various members of the bipartisan leadership of Congress here at the White House early this evening.

"Tonight, at 9 o'clock, Eastern Daylight Time, the President of the United States will address the nation on radio and television from his Oval Office."

The room was packed with reporters, and Ziegler read the statement with difficulty. Although his voice shook, it did not break. As soon as he had finished, he turned on his heel and left the room, without so much as a glance at the men and women in the room who wanted to question him.

There were tears in the eyes of some of the secretaries in the press office. Others, who have been through many crises in recent years and have become used to overwork, plowed ahead with their duties, with telephones ringing incessantly.

In other offices, loyal Nixon workers reacted with sadness but also with resignation and defeat. They were not surprised, and some showed a sense of relief that at last the battle was over.

Some commented bitterly about former aides H.R. (Bob) Haldeman and John D. Ehrlichman. The President's loyal personal aide and valet Manola Sanchez, a Spanish-born immigrant from Cuba whose independence and wit are widely admired, did not hide his feelings.

Speaking bluntly to some of his old friends, he castigated aides he said had betrayed the President. One long-time official, who heard about the Sanchez remarks, commented: "They [Haldeman and Ehrlichman] tried three times to fire him because they couldn't control him. Imagine, trying to fire someone like Manola."

But why did the President always rely on Ehrlichman and Haldeman? The official was asked. "Will we ever know?" he replied. "When Mr. Nixon was Vice President," he recalled, "he demanded that we never abuse the franking privilege. If there was any doubt, we were to use stamps. Everything had to be above board.

"Surely his friendship with Ehrlichman and Haldeman was one of the most expensive in history."

But the President himself, said another long-time aide, must have been two persons, the one who was motivated by high ideals and another who connived and schemed with his favorite gut-fighters.

One man who worked through most of the first Nixon term said he saw the President angry only once. Often he would say, "That will be tough politically, but we must do the right thing."

When that official left his post after nearly four years of intimate association with the President, he told his wife: "I've never gotten to know what sort of man he is."

One official, who has known Mr. Nixon well for many years and remains a White House aide, commented: "He is obviously a bad judge of character. But a lot was accomplished. So much more could have been accomplished but for these fun and games. It was such a stupid thing to happen."

The march of events that brought about the President's downfall turned its last corner Monday when Mr. Nixon released the partial transcripts of three taped conversations he held on June 23, 1972 with Haldeman.

It seemed inevitable then that this would be his last week in office, yet he continued to fight back and to insist that he would not resign. On Tuesday, the President held a Cabinet meeting and told his official family that he would not resign.

On Wednesday, however, the end appeared near, for his support on Capitol Hill was disappearing at dizzying speed. There were demands from some of his staunchest supporters that he should resign at once.

Late Wednesday, the President met with Senate Minority Leader Hugh Scott (R-Pa.), House Minority Leader John J. Rhodes (R-Ariz.) and Sen. Barry M. Goldwater (R-Ariz.).

They said afterward that the President had made no decision, but it was obvious later that for all intents and purposes the decision had been made despite what the leaders said. They obviously could not make the announcement for him, but it must have been apparent to them that the end was at hand.

Later Wednesday, Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger twice conferred with Mr. Nixon, first in the early evening for half an hour and then from 9:30 p.m. until midnight.

It was not known whether the two men were alone or accompanied by Haig and others.

Yesterday, Kissinger met with principal deputies in the State Department to tell them what to expect and to assign tasks to different people. Messages will be sent to heads of state to notify them formally of the change.

A White House spokesman said more than 10,000 telephone calls were received in the past two days expressing "disbelief and the hope that the President would not resign."

Thursday was a wet, humid August day, but despite intermittent rain the crowds packed the sidewalks in front of the White House. It was an orderly crowd, resigned and curious, watching newsmen come and go and being a part of a dramatic moment in the life of the nation.

 

© Copyright 1974 The Washington Post Co.

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There was no limit to the wake of tragedy he left. From sabotaging the 1968 Paris Peace Talks regarding the demise of the Vietnam War. To the subesquent troop buildups and carpet bombing the country-side, with TnT, napalm and agent Orange, Mini-guns, Rocket launchers and an assortment of Helicopters... How unnecessary and unfortunate for the 50,000 young Americans and countless Vietnamese caught in his cross hairs. 

 

LBJ Tapes: Nixon Sabotaged the Vietnam Peace Talks

 

Had some friends visit Vietnam last year, the Vietnamese people were only to happy to point out extensive damage caused by 'the Americans' to their country. There are even  monuments describing the terror that was inflicted on them by the Americans. 

Edited by solabeirtan
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The Nixon resignation was second only to the Kennedy assassination in bold newspaper headlines as I remember it. Even the Clinton scandal was nothing compared to Tricky Dick. I remember it being a big deal in my mind that the President of the U.S. would resign. Kind of scary to me actually. I also remember thinking what does the world think of us now.

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Nothing in our history comes close to this. It is crime at the highest levels of government. I was mesmerized by John Dean's testimony. Watching the news during the Saturday Night Massacre, I was yelling and spitting at my tv. The Grand Old Party ran a criminal for Prez. They obviously learned nothing from that. There is an entire GOP administration that should be tried for war crimes.

Edited by GregS
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The Nixon resignation was second only to the Kennedy assassination in bold newspaper headlines as I remember it. Even the Clinton scandal was nothing compared to Tricky Dick. I remember it being a big deal in my mind that the President of the U.S. would resign. Kind of scary to me actually. I also remember thinking what does the world think of us now.

Speak for yourself. He was not my choice for what America was or should be about and I felt vindicated. The institutions of government and the law had worked to remove this stain. What the world thought was inconsequential. It was necessary. Those who bought into his politics got what they deserved. Subsequent findings have only expanded on that. His history with Joe McCarthy had revealed him as a craven and uncontrollable ideologue. I had canvassed and spent phone time for McGovern. I felt relieved, and was aware that the game was not over.

Edited by GregS
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GregS no need to get defensive as I was speaking for myself. Wondering what the world would think of the U.S. had nothing to do with whether you liked the man. I didn't like him but that doesn't mean there wasn't shame concerning the crazy scandal.

 

On the up side he did make efforts to end the Vietnam War. He also was pursuing the reduction and destruction of nuclear arms with the Soviets.

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And how do we look in the eyes of the world for not punishing George W. Bush? While I understand what you are saying, ignoring abuses is a double-edged sword.

I think we have lost sight of the lessons learned. That was apparent at the point of Iran Contra. As much as I respect the present administration, its wiretapping of much of the country disturbs the hell out of me. President Obama's decision not to pursue criminal charges against the denizens of the Bush darkness is equally distasteful. You do know that Cheney and Rumsfeld were involved in the Nixon Administration? The world court at the Hague should be involved. That it stands mute boggles.

Edited by GregS
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On the up side he did make efforts to end the Vietnam War. He also was pursuing the reduction and destruction of nuclear arms with the Soviets.

 

No he did not make efforts to end the war.  That is not historically correct.  He lied and expanded the war into Laos and Cambodia... He was the President when Kent State took place... that was that lil fracas in Ohio when the National Guard troops opened fire on the students...  Nixon was a paranoid weirdo....

 

He ran in 1968 saying he had a secret plan to end the war.  He used Kissinger the week before the 1972 election to say "peace is at hand".... except both were lies....

 

He left in shame in August 1974.... 

 

The final scene in Saigon at the US Embassy was in April 1975... under President Gerald Ford... 

 

Good thing it was not a Democrat or the Republicans would have either impeached or assassinated him for that kind of unforgivable sin (abandoning the embassy).....

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Journalism has become a pathetic shadow of itself. There are responsible sources, but the lowest, and vast, common denominator is enamored with Fox, msnbc, and their peripheral shills. Responsible sources do not garner vast viewership. Could the press be counted on to perform responsibly today? How would the immense availability of information, that did not exist then, play? I remember computing being all about punch cards while in college then, and the library books. How very quaint.

Edited by GregS
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Nixon bombed border regions of Cambodia because it was allowing the N Vietnamese to set up military bases there along the border with S. Vietnam.  It wasn't a lengthy campaign, maybe 3 months. It was the result of Cambodia claiming to be neutral but allowing the North's military to amass at the border of the south and inside Cambodia.

 

Kissinger engaged in secret peace talks with the north in 1972 which ultimately led to the Paris Peace Accords that were brokered by the U.S.

 

THAT is historically accurate.

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French colonialism involving exploitation and brutality in Indochina dates back to the 1880s. French intrusion began in the seventeenth century by, you guessed it, European Christian missionaries. French military involvement was subsequently used to expand and exercise dominion over the region (how familiar is that?). Japanese occupation of the territory evicted the French from the region during the second world war. US policy during the war did not support French reinvolvement afterward. Afterward France reoccupied and was subsequently resisted by the indigenous people who fought under Ho Chi Minh for their independence, much as our government under Washington fought against English colonial exploitation. After the Vietnamese succeeded in expelling the French in 1954, US policy makers decided it would be a great idea to get involved in the subsequent civil war and subdue Minh's government, which had been supported by the US in WW2 against the Japanese. It was apparent to us by the mid 1960s that the policy was, to begin with, immoral, and further unsustainable given the continuing resistance of the North. Our friends and family were being forcibly sent in the draft to achieve nothing of consequence, but to kill and be killed. An estimated 3 million Vietnamese and 55,000 Americans died in the war. Vietnam has, since we were expelled, proved a peaceful, largely agrarian, state.

 

And yes, Nixon bombed Cambodia. Three months of B52 bombing missions was a heinous crime, performed in secret by Nixon without lawful consent.

Edited by GregS
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French colonialism involving exploitation and brutality in Indochina dates back to the 1880s. French intrusion began in the seventeenth century by, you guessed it, European Christian missionaries. French military involvement was subsequently used to expand and exercise dominion over the region. Japanese occupation of the territory evicted the French from the region during the second world war. US policy during the war did not support French reinvolvement afterward. Afterward France reoccupied and was subsequently resisted by the indigenous people who fought under Ho Chi Minh for their independence, much as we fought against English colonial exploitation. When the Vietnamese succeeded in expelling the French in 1954, US policy makers decided it would be a great idea to get involved in the subsequent civil war and subdue Minh's government, which had been supported by the US in WW2 against the Japanese. It was apparent to us by the mid 1960s that the policy was, to begin with, immoral, and further unsustainable given the resistance of the North. Our friends and family were being forcibly sent in the draft to achieve nothing of consequence, but to kill and be killed. Vietnam has since proved a peaceful, largely agrarian, state.

 

And yes, Nixon bombed Cambodia, as well as areas of North Vietnam. Three months of B52 bombing missions is a heinous crime.

 

Them dam Christians , again ! The trouble is , most indiginous species didn't know how much trouble they had until a good Christian came along and told them .

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Bombing Cambodia by Nixon was aimed at the 40,000 troops amassed in Cambodia at the border of S. Vietnam. Cambodia claimed to be neutral but rounded up 400,000 Vietnamese people in internment camps to use as leverage then started to fortify bases at the border in what looked like planning for an invasion. . Furthermore, bombing began in Cambodia in 1965 under LBJ. They bombed the hell out of Cambodia for years. There are some reports I have read that indicate that more ordnance was dropped in Cambodia than in all of Europe by all allies during WW2.  It all started with LBJ and continued throughout the remainder of his time in the whitehouse.  The whole issue is something that could be debated for a very long time. The interplay of the Khmer Rouge also played a role. I'm afraid it isn't as cut and dry as you are trying to portray it GregS.

Edited by FranksHotPeppersAndMarijuana
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Is there something I said that is not historical fact? Are you suggesting it was moral that we engage there? You are right in that there is much more to this.

The country had been partitioned during the Geneva Accords of 1954 into north and south with the provision that it be reunited pending democratic elections in 1956. The separation was not intended to be permanent. The US and the south did not agree to the accords.The corrupt Diem government, which was supported by the US, in 1955 seized the country and declared that there would be no election. Later fraudulent elections put Thieu, an equally corrupt leader, at president in 1965. The US supported his regime too. The bombing performed from 1965 to 1968 by Johnson was in the North, not in Cambodia. He realized his mistakes in Vietnam and bowed out as a result. Nixon's was a criminal mind. He had no such sense of conscience. He went to his grave arguing that he had always and everywhere been right, to include in the high crimes and misdemeanors that came to light in the Watergate hearings, saying that when the President does it, it is not illegal. It is the demise of this corrupt legacy we are celebrating.

We had no business being in Vietnam to begin with. The policy was flawed. The country now has a socialist oriented market based economy that is growing at a rate of about 10% annually, among the fastest rates in the world.

Edited by GregS
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