AHC: Make Richard Nixon Be Remembered As a Good President

Nearly 48 years after he became the only President in American history to resign in disgrace, Richard Nixon is generally ranked as a below average or poor President. His name is synonymous with the Watergate Scandal which brought him down, but Nixon also earns credit for his many achievements in domestic policy: ending the gold standard, terminating the draft, creating the EPA and OSHA, signing Title IX, and enforcing the racial integration of Southern schools. At the same time, although Nixon recognized China and initiated détente with the Soviets he illegally expanded the Vietnam War into Cambodia after violating the Logan Act as a presidential candidate by interfering in the 1968 Paris Peace Talks which might have brought an early end to the conflict in Indochina.

Nixon was a dishonest, ruthless, crude, vain, and thin-skinned man who was willing to break the law in order to get what he wanted. But he was also brilliant, driven, an effective communicator, and ahead of his time in recognizing China when few American politicians would have dared to do so. Your challenge is to have Richard Nixon be remembered as a good President. You have no restrictions on how to accomplish this, it is entirely up to you. Any possible scenarios could include Eisenhower dying of his 1955 heart attack, Nixon winning in 1960, or the Watergate burglars not being caught in 1972.
 
Just have him win in 1960.
His loss led to him embracing his worse traits out of bitterness

I think Nixon brought the 1960 defeat upon himself. Firstly, he should never have picked Lodge as his running mate. The logic behind Lodge was that he would bolster the ticket's foreign policy credentials and cut into Kennedy's support in his native Massachusetts. Yet foreign affairs already were Nixon's strong suit, and JFK had beaten Lodge in the 1952 Massachusetts Senate race so picking him made no sense. Apparently Nixon had offered the number two spot to Nelson Rockefeller, who turned it down. Choosing someone like Everett Dirksen would have helped Nixon not just in Illinois but in neighboring Missouri, which Nixon lost by less than one percent. Flipping those two states would not have been enough to elect Nixon but it would have put him closer to the finish line.

Secondly, Nixon ran a terrible general election campaign. There is an episode of ''Mad Men'' where they talk about this, with Don Draper advising Nixon's team to package their candidate as an everyman who went from being a grocer's son to the highest levels of success in American life - in stark contrast to the privileged Kennedy. Instead, Nixon's team runs ads like this:

Nixon ran a vapid campaign that focused entirely on ''experience,'' greatly exaggerating Nixon's actual importance in the Eisenhower administration to the point where JFK turned this into an advantage:
Moreover, Nixon emphasized foreign policy over domestic issues which undercut his campaign during a time of recession. If Nixon had picked a running mate like Dirksen and waged a campaign that connected with everyday voters by emphasizing his compelling rags to riches life story, then his performance in the TV debates would not have mattered and I imagine that Nixon would have been elected in 1960.

Taking office at 48, Nixon would face the dramatic policy issues (the height of the Cold War and civil rights) that plagued Kennedy. But he would not be embittered by his 1960 defeat. Considering that foreign affairs were Nixon's strong suit he could potentially have handled US-Soviet tensions well, while pursuing relatively liberal social policies at home. If the economy remains strong in 1964 and the US does not get bogged down in a war in Cuba or Indochina, then Nixon could have been re-elected in 1964 and be remembered as a good or decent President.
 

marathag

Kicked
Nixon emphasized foreign policy over domestic issues which undercut his campaign during a time of recession.
Why would Tricky Dick talk about the Economy, when the 1957 Recession, worst since the Great Depression, happened while he was VP?

Since you can't brag about the economy, you do on other things, like International situation
 
The biggest difference between Nixon and the rest of the Presidents? Nixon got caught. Get rid of watergate and he’ll at least not be hated.
 
Why would Tricky Dick talk about the Economy, when the 1957 Recession, worst since the Great Depression, happened while he was VP?

Since you can't brag about the economy, you do on other things, like International situation

Even in the international situation, the Republicans were vulnerable due to the U-2 Incident and the (false) perception that there had been a "missile gap" with the Soviets.

Nixon would have been well-served by talking about the interstate highway system, the expansion of Social Security, and the lowest level of peacetime unemployment in American history while pledging to cut taxes and lower interest rates (which would have shown that he was planning to do something about the stagnating economy).
 
Nixon dies in June 1973 while joyriding with Brezhnev at Camp David, and is replaced by Spiro Agnew, or Carl Albert if Agnew is indicted or resigns, or Jim Eastland if Albert shrinks from the job. Whoever is Acting President in October handles the Yom Kippur crisis so poorly that it goes Samson Option and escalates into WWIII.

The survivors curse Acting President <Whoever> and remember Nixon as the last good President, while they forage for edible canned goods.

[ for all of the bad things Nixon did, he at least managed to pull off Operation Nickelgrass so the Israelis didn't resort to nukes]
 
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marathag

Kicked
Even in the international situation, the Republicans were vulnerable due to the U-2 Incident and the (false) perception that there had been a "missile gap" with the Soviets.
1960 was the last time a Democrat could run to the Right of the Republicans on both Domestic and International issues.
Noam Chomsky called Nixon the last Liberal US President
 
1960 was the last time a Democrat could run to the Right of the Republicans on both Domestic and International issues.
Noam Chomsky called Nixon the last Liberal US President

I think at least Gerald Ford should be included in that category. Carter was the President who started deregulation.
 
1960 was the last time a Democrat could run to the Right of the Republicans on both Domestic and International issues.
Noam Chomsky called Nixon the last Liberal US President
I think Noam Chomsky exaggrated on calling Richard Nixon the last Liberal US President.
 
I think Noam Chomsky exaggrated on calling Richard Nixon the last Liberal US President.

Kind of like when he said, ''If the Nuremberg laws were applied, then every post-war American president would have been hanged.''

If Albert f#cking Speer could escape the hangman's noose, then I can not see someone like Jimmy Carter undergoing a short drop and a sudden stop....just the imagery of that is grotesque and absurd.
 
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Kind of like when he said, ''If the Nuremberg laws were applied, then every post-war American president would have been hanged.''

If Albert f#cking Speer could escape the hangman's noose, then I can not see someone like Jimmy Carter undergoing a short drop and a sudden stop....just the imagery of that is grotesque and absurd.
I agree with you on this.
 

marathag

Kicked
I think at least Gerald Ford should be included in that category. Carter was the President who started deregulation.
Carter didn't run during the Election saying he would help big business via deregulation and increase defense spending. the 1976 Democratic Platform called for the opposite.
 
Eisenhower dies of a heart attack in late 1955, putting Nixon into the Presidency. Nixon rides a sympathy wave, peace, and prosperity to election in his own right in 1956 by a landslide, and while he has some setbacks economically and in terms of the Soviet Union, President Nixon wins a second elected term in 1960.
 
Eisenhower dies of a heart attack in late 1955, putting Nixon into the Presidency. Nixon rides a sympathy wave, peace, and prosperity to election in his own right in 1956 by a landslide, and while he has some setbacks economically and in terms of the Soviet Union, President Nixon wins a second elected term in 1960.

I wonder if JFK would even bother running in 1960, since Nixon would have the advantage of incumbency.

I have read that in 1958, as the recession deepened, Nixon wanted Eisenhower to pump prime the economy but his advice was rejected. If he is President, then Nixon will likely adopt a Keynesian response to the recession that may result in a stronger recovery and butterfly (or at least delay) the 1960-61 recession.

A Nixon Presidency from 1955 to 1965 would likely see the federal government take a stand in favor of civil rights (Nixon aggressively fought for the 1957 Civil Rights Act as VP) but I wonder if he would send troops to Little Rock. Nixon opposed the British-French-Israeli invasion of Suez, but I wonder if he would take a softer stand against it than Ike. After winning a second term in 1960, Nixon likely overthrows Castro through an all out invasion of Cuba.

Ironically, an alternate 1964 could see JFK go up against Vice-President Henry Cabot Lodge - the same man he defeated for the Senate 12 years prior!
 
Would have taken out Castro- no Berlin Wall.
If still elected in 68- no Watergate.

How would Nixon have prevented the Berlin Wall?
Without causing WWIII that is, which would definitely not make him be remembered as a good president.
(Or giving up West-Berlin, but that wasn't really an option)


What about coming clean on Watergate right away, showing some remorse about the actions of his followers and turning things around with making campaigning and campaign financing fair and transparent?
 
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I wonder if JFK would even bother running in 1960, since Nixon would have the advantage of incumbency.

I have read that in 1958, as the recession deepened, Nixon wanted Eisenhower to pump prime the economy but his advice was rejected. If he is President, then Nixon will likely adopt a Keynesian response to the recession that may result in a stronger recovery and butterfly (or at least delay) the 1960-61 recession.

A Nixon Presidency from 1955 to 1965 would likely see the federal government take a stand in favor of civil rights (Nixon aggressively fought for the 1957 Civil Rights Act as VP) but I wonder if he would send troops to Little Rock. Nixon opposed the British-French-Israeli invasion of Suez, but I wonder if he would take a softer stand against it than Ike. After winning a second term in 1960, Nixon likely overthrows Castro through an all out invasion of Cuba.

Ironically, an alternate 1964 could see JFK go up against Vice-President Henry Cabot Lodge - the same man he defeated for the Senate 12 years prior!
A presidency like this would likely have Nixon go into the pantheon of Presidents along the line of Truman, a solidly good, top ten President.

On Civil Rights, Nixon would likely pass a more stringent 1957 CRA (nowhere near as powerful as 1964, but more powerful than OTL's 1957 and 1960) and would the lay the basis for a colour blind approach for Civil Rights going forward. I could also see him passing a 1960?-1961? Voting Rights Act which would (eventually) force Southern politicians to eventually drop support for segregation in order to cater the growing black vote (granted I don't think this would begin to happen until the early 1970s).

All of the sources I've read have Nixon privately expressing support for Tripartite Powers (UK-France-Israel) during the Suez Crisis and saying things along the line of "we shouldn't betray our allies", but that he faithfully towed Eisenhower's line.
 
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