Nixon So Far
LIKE FRANKLIN ROOSEVELT, Richard Nixon came to the Presidency in the midst of a national crisis which had seriously eroded the authority of the office, and indeed of the government itself. Neither in 1933 nor in 1969, to be sure, was revolution in the cards-though in both years there were some on the Left paranoid enough to hope, and some on the Right paranoid enough to fear, that it was. But in both years the gulf between Washington and the nation was wide enough to produce an almost universal sense of frustration and a widespread disillusionment with the democratic process.
Like Roosevelt, too, Nixon did not win office on any surge of popular adulation. (The idolatry which later surrounded Roosevelt had, in 1932, not shown itself; he received the votes of 57 per cent of the electorate-roughly the same propor- tion as had voted for Herbert Hoover four years earlier-less because he had won their hearts than because, in the depths of the depression, they figured that almost any change would be for the better.) Most of those whose ballots gave Nixon a margin of victory almost as narrow as the margin of his defeat eight years earlier were motivated primarily by fear of George Wallace and distaste for Hubert Humphrey (or perhaps one should say, for Lyndon Johnson’s Vice President); Nixon never was greeted by frenetic crowds such as had always surrounded the Kennedys.
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