February 27, 2014 By Chris Barber
By Chris Barber
42 years ago— on a day that marked the end of President Nixon’s stay in the People’s Republic of China—RN observed: “We have been here a week. This was the week that changed the world.”
Integral to the President’s trip to China were the discussions held with Chairman Mao and Prime Minister Zhou En-lai. The product of these discussions resulted in a joint communiqué issued and agreed upon by both the United States and China. In recognizing this week as the 42nd anniversary of President Nixon’s trip to China, it cannot go unmentioned the impact of this diplomatic achievement. Read the Communiqué below:
The fact of the matter was that President Nixon’s trip to China hinged on a mutual understanding between the two parties—a hashed out agreement where normalizing relations would make possible the prospect of future peace despite fundamental ideological differences. When Chairman Mao met President Nixon on the first day of the journey, he made clear that if the two parties failed to come together on an agreement, the people of the world would ask, “Why are we not able to succeed the first time? The only reason would be that we have taken the wrong road.”
Red China, coming out of its prolonged 22 year isolation from Western Civilization, and the United States, facing a difficult foreign policy obstacle due to the Vietnam conflict, came together in search of common strategic interests. What concerned President Nixon was China’s stance on particularly critical issues, such as the U.S.’s military presence in Taiwan.
However, a number of factors contributed to China’s desire for rapprochement. The forced cooperation between China and the Soviet Union over the past two decades emphasized the deep ideological differences inherent among these Communist powers. So deep were the differences that hostilities and the dangers of all-out war loomed as the days passed. Hence, the changing power structure of the Communist world in the beginning of the 1970s presented a possibility for U.S. “intervention.”
Because of Sino-Soviet disagreements, President Nixon observed an opportunity to restrain the Soviets from possible military confrontation against China. He also recognized that Moscow no longer acted as a bridge between Beijing and the rest of the world. But the prevailing policy issues of the time and a consensus as to how China would act in relation to U.S. interests was not as important in so much as agreeing to work for mutual prosperity and peace. The Shanghai Communiqué, as President Nixon strived to extricate from the meetings, would have to establish language that acknowledged each other’s internal differences and recognized a mutual non-aggression pact in the Asia-Pacific region.
The communiqué set forth these agreements between the two countries:
• progress toward the normalization of relations between China and the United States is in the interests of all countries.
• both wish to reduce the danger of international military conflict.
• neither should seek hegemony in the Asia-Pacific region and each is opposed to efforts by any other country or group of countries to establish such hegemony.
• neither is prepared to negotiate on behalf of any third party or to enter into agreements or understandings with the other directed at other states.
• the United States acknowledges that all Chinese on either side of the Taiwan Straight maintain there is but one China and that Taiwan is a part of China.
What resulted after a half-year effort of tentative drafting was a communiqué satisfactory to the goals of peace and progress for the years ahead.
15 years after the Shanghai Communiqué made possible a new era of Sino-U.S relations, President Nixon reflected on the impact of the document. He noted that with foreign policy, there are necessary risks to be taken. The possibility of success could only occur through taking risks.
The lesson of the Shanghai Communique is that great risks were taken and great goals were achieved. May our two countries and our leaders continue to take risks for peace in the future.
February 21, 2014 By Chris Barber
Max Lerner, syndicated American journalist and known Nixon opponent, said of President Nixon’s announcement of his planned trip to Beijing, “The politics of surprise leads through the Gates of Astonishment into the Kingdom of Hope.” That hope being the framework for a future generation of peace.
When Air Force One, carrying the President and select staff, landed in Beijing on February 21, 1972, a new era of Sino–U.S. relations commenced. A surprise no longer, the gates of hope opened to RN’s diplomatic initiative for peace. Exiting Air Force one and arriving at the bottom steps of the ramp, President Nixon extended his hand in a gesture of respect to Zhou En-Lai, Premier of the People’s Republic of China. It was a handshake that “came over the vastest ocean in the world–twenty-five years of no communication.”
President Nixon’s week long trip in China produced a joint communiqué setting forth mutual agreements where real progress towards a long-lasting peace could be bridged. It was a document that recognized the two countries’ inherent differences, which China had vocally stipulated, yet verbalized a commitment to a world of peace and stability.
The ingenuity of RN’s trip to China not only lay in the methods of securing the pivotal overture, but also in the process of crafting the joint communiqué–the concrete document that would show the meeting to be a resounding success.
RN’s meeting with Zhou En-lai on the second day of the trip evidences the President’s seemingly flawless command of diplomacy and geopolitical knowledge. It would help sway the language of the communiqué. Holding firm to pragmatism–contrary to doctrinaire or pure principle–RN advised Premier Zhou En-lai on realigning the Chinese perception against U.S. forces in the Asia pacific region, particularly in Taiwan and Japan. His arguments, advocating that U.S forces must remain, can be seen below.
February 14, 2014 By Chris Barber
By Chris Barber
This week marks the 45th anniversary of President Nixon’s swearing-in of Walter E. Washington as Mayor of the District of Columbia. The Mayor of D.C at the time was by law an appointee of the President of the United States, yet the decision by RN to reappoint Washington marked the first stages of a prominent shift in Washington D.C. local governance that ultimately led to the ratification of the District of Columbia Self-Government and Reorganization Act signed in 1973. In hopes of propelling his “Home Rule” campaign–that of strengthening the representative capacity of local government to tackle local problems–through an effective cooperation “yet achieved in the relations between the Federal and city governments”–RN retained Washington as his select man in 1969.
Mayor Washington, a democrat, was one of three African American mayors to lead major American cities by 1967 and the first of these three to do so. Mayor Washington was also tasked with leading a predominantly African American city underrepresented, and to a large degree, under-served by the federal government for whom they relied upon.
The condition of America’s capital in 1969 was that of societal disarray. Crime rates were soaring at calamitous rates, the standards of education were faltering, and uncertainties flourished in the face of massive social readjustment. Amidst prevailing riots and increasing illicit drug use, the latter half of the 1960s effectively steered the District of Columbia onto a road of incivility and outright lawlessness.
President Nixon would not stand idly by and witness the crumbling of the capital city at the footsteps of Federal leadership. 14 days prior to the swearing in of Mayor Washington, RN delivered a resounding statement outlining proposed actions and recommendations to be taken for the District of Columbia. The common theme among his proposals: the establishment of local responsibilities and local mechanisms. It was then that President Nixon said “responsibility begins at home.” Mayor Washington would be the man he could rely on at the local level to bring about this shift.
That is why, as we look at the city of Washington, while the Federal Government has a greater responsibility here than toward any other city, that here, too, we must recognize that without a strong local government, without real home rule, and without the support of the citizens, the people of Washington, the Federal activities will come to naught.
Over the next two years of the Nixon presidency, Washington D.C. experienced a profound drop in crime, with crime index offenses decreasing by 5.2% in calendar year 1970 and 13.2% the following year. The drop was attributed to Mayor Washington’s local crime action effort, and the provisions for which his early 1970 “Crime Action Plan” proposed. Below, read Mayor Washington’s D.C. crime plan memorandum and accompanying report. Note the synchronized relationship between Federal oversight and local action plans. The success of Washington D.C.’s fight on crime and drug use was contingent upon the appropriate distribution of funds in key areas.
A concept that predated RN’s presidency and one that helped shape his early domestic policy framework, “New Federalism” would be birthed, appropriately so, at the nation’s capital. Demanding that the high standard of American government be reflected upon in its Federal City, that the high standard of American civil rights be upheld, particularly as it applied to the underrepresented African American population, RN promised to instigate home rule for the District, to push for Congressional representation, a criminal justice system operated at its own sovereignty, and a locally elected body of lawmakers. Because of the self-government reorganization act, Washington became the first locally elected Mayor to head the District of Columbia in 1975.
February 14, 2014 By Nixon Foundation
By Will Swift, author of the newly released Pat and Dick: The Nixons, An Intimate Portrait of a Marriage
When Dick Nixon and Pat Ryan met at a community theater play rehearsal on January 18, 1938, he found that he “could not take my eyes away from her.” He drove her and a friend home that night and asked her for a date. She turned him down with a curt, “I’m busy.” But he continued to pursue her, and when he announced, “Someday I’m going to marry you,” she laughed at him.
Twenty-five-year-old Pat Ryan was happy at the time, living with roommates and finally enjoying her freedom. She was not yet open to romantic love and the obligations of another relationship. She had struggled to raise her younger brothers after their parents died, and now, in her first year teaching business courses at Whittier Union High, she relished her independence and popularity. Glamorous enough to pick up parts as “extra” in movies, she impressed her students as “quite a dish.” Her colleagues adored her and students, both male and female, had crushes so potent they spied on her after the school day ended.
By contrast, twenty-five-year-old Dick Nixon was dissatisfied with his life and wanted change. He found his native ambition blocked. He was living in a small room over his parents’ garage. He was working in a law job he had been reluctant to take, he did not have a girlfriend, and he had returned to the town he had tried to leave behind.
Ignoring her initial standoffishness, Dick continued to woo Pat with the same determination and persistence he would later use to win seven elections. He hated ice-skating, but bloodied himself repeatedly in order to learn so he could go skating with Pat and her friends. On weekends, in order to spend time with her, he drove her to Los Angeles where she stayed with her half-sister and went on dates with other men. He would return on Sunday afternoons and wait until she was ready for him to drive her home. Finally, after two months of trying, he seemed to be making progress. She accepted the flowers he sent her on her birthday (March 16, 1938) and went out to a Laguna restaurant with him a few days later.
That spring and early summer, Dick wrote her notes and, even more intensely, composed poems and songs for her. He showed up at her apartment on school nights, asking her to go for a drive or to join him on walks around the hillside areas surrounding the college. One night he went on a romantic walk by himself (“a star fell right in front of me…Yes—I know I am crazy…but you see, Miss Pat, I like you,”) he wrote her. Pat remained cool. He ventured to write her: “I’d like so very much to see you any time you might be able to stand me…I swear you’ll not be bored if you give me a chance.” And life with him might not have been easy, but he was right- it never was boring.
Dick pursued Pat out of profound need for love and personal fulfillment—which Pat had already found, but he had not. If in 1938 a besotted young lawyer chased an intrigued, but wary young school teacher, 1939 became the year in which Pat Ryan let down her guard and accepted her increasingly confident and impressive suitor- a man who was developing a successful career as a lawyer.
They shared an interest in football; in fact Dick was crazy about the game. On January 2, because their two former schools were squaring off, she accompanied him to Pasadena to watch the Rose Bowl. Dick’s team, Duke, undefeated and un-scored upon in nine games that year, was heavily favored to beat Pat’s USC Trojans. In the final minute of the game, the Trojan quarterback threw a winning touchdown pass. Pat’s team won 7-3, but for Dick the game was a victory. He later told interviewer Frank Gannon that Pat felt sorry for him, and he claimed Duke’s loss helped him win her over.
On his twenty-sixth birthday—January 9th —Pat sent Dick a clock. He was excited by this first gesture signifying that the feelings between them might be mutual. In his thank you note, he included one of his law firm’s promissory note forms on which he pledged to pay her “four billion dollars when I’m fifty, or before if you’ll let me.” He explained that he had “an uncontrolled impulse” to send this note, “so here it is—crazy—but fun.” He ended exuberantly, “You’re sure tops, Miss Pat and I just have to tell you.”
Pat too began to love Dick, drawn in by his love of adventure, his brilliant mind, and his high sense of purpose- a sense she shared far more than the public recognized. He expressed his intense romantic feelings in letters that revealed his fears that he would “bore her with his thoughts,” and his view of himself as an unaccomplished suitor. “[T]here was something electric in the usually almost stifling air in Whittier. And now I know,” he wrote her. “An Irish gypsy who radiates all that is happy & beautiful was there. She left behind [means?] her a note addressed to a struggling barrister who looks from a window and dreams. And in the note he found…a great spirit which only great ladies can inspire…And though he is a prosaic person, his heart was filled with that grand poetic music, which makes us wish… she might be forever happy.”
By the spring of 1939, as the orange trees once again unfurled their yearly blossoms, he felt particularly encouraged about their relationship. At one point Pat invited him to supper: “[W]hy don’t you come Early Wednesday (6)—and I’ll see if I can burn a Hamburger for you.” She sounded on the brink of romance: “Did you see the sunset? A new picture every few minutes. Well? Yes, Pat.” At another time (perhaps on her birthday in March) she accepted a gift from him with greater enthusiasm than she had the clock he had given her the previous year: “Gee Dick. Guess I am a pretty lucky Irishman!…Best of all was knowing you had remembered.”
In August 1939 “the vagabond,” her friend Virginia, and her roommate Margaret took a sightseeing vacation, driving up the Pacific Coast to Vancouver in British Columbia. By the time they got to San Francisco, Pat found she missed Dick. She felt “so sorta’ lonesome,” she wrote him, because she did not have a chance to say a proper goodbye. When they reached Vancouver she sent him at his law office a scenic postcard with the cryptic message “Love from Mother.” This time she was not pushing him away, but hiding her growing feelings from the local gossips at home. Pat knew that Dick’s mother Hannah Nixon would not be alone in her suspicion about a bond between a Nixon and a Ryan. Whittier’s prominent local boys were not supposed to marry outsiders, and particularly not those below their station. “Some people felt,” Judith Wingert, the daughter of the senior partner in Nixon’s law firm, recalled, “that he should have been going with a girl from, you know, a better family…one that didn’t work.” Pat was neither part of Whittier’s pious inner circle of Quakers nor a member of its upper middle class country club and bridge set.
In the winter of 1940, Dick honored the second anniversary of their first meeting by writing Pat a letter trumpeting how madly he was still in love with her. Now calling her “my dearest heart,” he let her know that in Quaker terms that “Nothing so fine ever happened to him or anyone else as falling in love with Thee.”
Dick promised her adventure. Slowly he convinced her that “he was going places.” Pat was impressed, as she told her daughter Julie, that Dick “always saw the possibilities.” He “believed that life could be good and that problems—well, if you could not solve them, you could make things a little better.” Other men might have been more appealing and easy, but she was finding herself drawn to his vitality, his stability in his profession, and his openness to a wider world. He could offer her not just the promise of his career but his emerging but intense sense of purpose. She could be part of that. “From the first days I knew you,” he declared in a letter, “ you were destined to be a great lady,…I want to work with you toward the destiny you are bound to fulfill…It is our job to go forth together and accomplish great ends and we shall do it too.” Although Dick and Pat would later claim that they did not discuss politics often in the early days, Pat told several of her best friends that Dick was “going to be president someday.”
In March 1940, Dick took Pat in his black Oldsmobile for an hour and a half drive down U.S. Highway 101 into southern Orange County half way between Los Angeles and San Diego. He pulled into a dirt road leading to the Dana Point promontory, a sandstone cliff with a precipitous face, overlooking Capistrano beach and the San Clemente coastline. Parked by the edge of the cliff, he waited until sunset to make a bold proposal. As the sun eased into the ocean off Dana Point, Dick once again asked Pat to marry him. Their daughter Julie tells us that, even as Pat accepted, she still felt conflict about giving up her freedom. In the era of Pat Ryan’s young adulthood, women usually married when they were in their early twenties. Pat had defied convention by giving herself the years of adult independence she always wanted. She did not feel completely ready for the commitment marriage entailed, but she resolved to make it work. She told Dick yes.
Dick soon formalized his proposal in a letter that called upon them both to strive to make a significant contribution to the world around them. His “dear heart” was, in his opinion, an extraordinary woman. “You have always had that extra something,” Dick wrote, “which takes people out of the mediocre class.” Dick encouraged Pat by seeing in her a nobleness of spirit, a gallantry, and a fine intelligence that she was not prone to acknowledge in herself.
As for Dick, he already felt indebted to Pat. She had transformed him into a more open and happy young man. “I someday shall return some of the benefit,” he wrote, “you have conferred upon me.” Whatever life brought them, he promised, “I shall always be with you—loving you more every hour and attempting to let you feel that love in your heart and life.”
Whatever the dynamic of power and influence would be between husband and wife in the long term, in the spring of 1940 Pat took charge of planning their June wedding. Uncomfortable with grand occasions, she arranged for a small celebration. She didn’t want the event to create financial burdens for her husband, her brothers, or her in-laws. Dick chose the least expensive room for the ceremony—the two-level, fortuitously named Presidential suite—at the Spanish styled Mission Inn in Riverside, California.
The wedding occurred against a somber backdrop that surely tinged the events for the young couple and their family and friends: dispiriting news that had arrived regularly that spring and summer from the European war that was increasingly preoccupying America. The day after their nuptials, France would officially surrender to Germany, leaving Great Britain alone and vulnerable to invasion. On Friday afternoon June 21, Don Nixon drove Pat from Whittier to Riverside. At the inn Pat changed into a simple light blue suit, pinned an orchid to its lapel, and donned a dark rose hat adorned with blue roses. Dick bought himself a dark suit for the occasion.
For their friend Helen Noll and the other twenty-five or so guests, this was “not just another wedding.” At the end of a decade of economic hardship and austerity, and with war swallowing Europe, it was considered a major event to hold a marriage ceremony in such an exotic setting. Noll remembers flowers massed in the Presidential suite and Pat entering through a side door to take her vows. Facing each other Pat and Dick were married in a Quaker ceremony in front of a grand piano. William Mendenhall, the new president of Whittier College, read the service. There are no photographs recording the start of their fifty-three year marriage.
During their first three happily-married years, they traveled as often as they could- visiting the Canadian Rockies and taking a Caribbean cruise. But Pearl Harbor was attacked by the Japanese in December 1941, and by mid 1943 Dick Nixon had enlisted in the navy, while Pat took an important job at the Office of Price Administration in San Francisco. Dick claimed that her job with the OPA was far more important than his job with the OPA in Washington had ever been. “I’m really very proud—as I have always been. I like to tell the gang how smart you are as well as being the most attractive person they’ll ever see. Dear Heart you are the tops! Small wonder that I have no other interest than you.”
On March 17, 1944 (her 32nd birthday), he happily remembered that it was the sixth anniversary of the first time that he had sent her flowers, and that “For all the years to come—your birthdays will be reminders of our happiness and my love for you.” He would indeed honor her future birthdays—including throwing her a surprise party in their first spring in the White House in 1969.
His wartime separation from his wife heightened his attachment to her. In a letter replete with the sentiment of his 1938 infatuation, he wrote, “the only thing that matters is that I love you more every day.” His postscript describes her powerful impact upon his mood: “When I feel blue—I think of our times together—and it has a miraculous effect. You are a real tonic for me.” Dick did not have with him a good photograph of his wife. He badgered Pat for nine months until she set aside her reservations about doing something self-indulgent and dragged herself to a portrait studio. The beautiful picture left Dick ecstatic. Now he had something tangible to brag about with his wartime buddies. “Everybody raved—wondered how I happened to rate! (I do too),” but the image of his absent wife intensified his loneliness amid the tedium and tension of war.
In September 1943, flying at 10,000 feet overlooking the South Pacific islands and the ocean, he did not have time to complete a full letter, but wanted her to know that “I love you just the same up here as down below.” The next morning when the sun came up, he flew above the clouds and saw a spectacular sunrise. He missed her then, but assured her, “We will see sunrises from the air together—and I hope very soon.”
With dull work and too much time on his hands, he was often miserable. He urged his wife to “get good dinners, see lots of shows, buy nice clothes, have your hair fixed—and anything else you want or need,” hoping that she could “make up for me here.” “It will make me feel swell to think of you having some enjoyment.”
When Dick returned from the war in the South Pacific in the summer of 1944, Pat greeted him at the airport in San Diego: “her eyes lit up…and she ran about fifty yards at breakneck speed and threw her arms around me.” It was no doubt the biggest and most joyful embrace of their married life, and one of the few occurring in public.
For twenty-eight years from 1946 until 1974 the Nixons served as a political couple in the public eye. Pat supported Dick in seven electoral campaigns and six years in the White House. After Nixon resigned the presidency during the Watergate crisis, the couple lived a relatively normal and increasingly intimate life together in San Clemente and New York and New Jersey. While Pat quietly tried to recover from a 1976 stroke, Dick consulted with presidents and traveled the world to restore his reputation.
As he told aide Frank Gannon, Dick Nixon always considered himself “the guy with no game who got the “hot” girl.” When Frank asked what words were written on his heart, he said, without a moment’s hesitation, “PAT.” As Pat, frail from her battle with lung cancer, lay dying in a chair in June 1993, Dick whispered to her, “Your family loves you, your country loves you, the whole world loves you.” She went into a coma and died the next day. At her funeral at the Nixon Library and Foundation, Nixon, who had worked all his life not to be vulnerable in the public gladiatorial arena, was so distraught that he could not control his tears. He tried to cover his face with a handkerchief, but to no avail. He had written to her during the war that she “was the only one for me.” And now he was alone. A fellow mourner told Nixon’s attorney Leonard Garment that Nixon would not last a year. He died ten months later.
Theirs was a great love story that few Americans ever knew about. Their teamwork helped shape the 20th Century.
February 12, 2014 By Chris Barber
By Chris Barber
A portrait of President Nixon in the Oval Office. A bust of President Lincoln sets the background.
To commemorate the 205th birthday of our 16th President, Abraham Lincoln, The New Nixon takes a look at the great figure and savior of the Union through the lens of one of his great admirers– Richard Nixon, our 37th President.
At a very early age, RN cultivated a budding admiration for Lincoln, suggested by a short piece he wrote as an eleven year-old boy. In his brief biography of the storied President and his sons, a young Richard Nixon notes on the assassination of Lincoln: “After the war the Lincolns went to the theater with the Grants. He was shot by Boothe and he soon died. The martyred patriot, President of our country.”
On Feb. 12, 1809, Abraham Lincoln was born. When a young boy his father moved to Indiana. Lincoln did not have much education and what he did have he got from his mother. When he was nine years old his mother died. Lincoln was very sad. He afterwards said, “all that I have and all that I know I owe to my angel mother.”
His father again married, this time a wealthy widow. She gave him more education and he began to read. John Hanks, his stepmother said that when he got home from work, he would grab a piece of corn bread, get a book, sit down by the fire and begin to read.
When Lincoln was getting to be a young man a friend of his asked him to go down the river with him. Lincoln gladly consented and on the way he saw a slave auction. he said, “if I ever get a chance to hit that thing I’ll hit it hard.”
Soon after Lincoln went in partnership with another man, keeping a store. One day he walked six mile to pay a woman back three cents and earned the name of “Honest Abe.” One day he bought a barrel that contained some law books. He was interested in law and one day when he was defending a man, his opponent said that he saw the man commit the murder by the moon light. Lincoln said that the moon was not shining that night.
Lincoln was opposed to the Kansas, Nebraska bill and started to debate with Douglas, the founder. He rose so high in popularity in this debate that he was elected president of the United States.
Just about as soon as he was elected, the south left the Union and the Civil War started. Lincoln had four children but all die except one, Tad. Tad would write funny letters to his father. About the time that the Battle of Gettysburg was over, Lincoln made his great speech. He did not think that it was good but he learned that it was so fine that the people could not clap for it.
After the war the Lincolns went to the theater with the Grants. He was shot by Boothe and he soon died. The martyred patriot, president of our country.
On his thirteenth birthday, RN was given a gift by his much beloved grandmother, Almira Burdg Milhous. It was a framed picture of Lincoln, graced with her handwritten words from Longfellow’s “Psalm of Life:
Lives of great men oft remind us
We can make our lives sublime,
And departing, leave behind us
Footprints on the sand of time.
To the day he passed from this world, RN held dearly to the gift of which he called one of his fondest possessions.
As a representative and later guardian of the party birthed at the ascension of Abraham Lincoln, RN often referenced the words and philosophies of the great President. As a precursor to the 1966 campaign season, RN urged his Republican peers to be Lincoln Republicans in hopes of spurring a renewed image of a battered party.
Upon taking office, RN found himself at the helm of a country divided and crises ridden–a state of America not seen since the Civil War. It would come as no surprise then, that when RN gripped the helm of a fledgling ship and tried to steer his country to peace and prosperity, he looked to the posthumous council of President Lincoln. In a letter to Congressman Robert McClory of Illinois written on February 12, 1972–Lincoln’s 163rd birthday–RN aptly personified the spirit of Abraham Lincoln, a spirit that runs deep in the lore of American perseverance.
His forthright and honest words sank deep into the understanding of every listener, and what he said of Henry Clay, a man he deeply admired, could well be applied to Lincoln himself:
He loved his country partly because it was his own country, but mostly because it was a free country; and he burned with a zeal for its advancement, prosperity and glory, because he saw in such, the advancement, prosperity and glory of human liberty, human right and human nature. He desired the prosperity of his countrymen partly because they were his countrymen, but chiefly to show to the world that freemen could be prosperous.