Richard Nixon: Defeated By Personality Essay

1570 words - 6 pages

Richard Milhous Nixon, 37th President of the United States, became the only American President to ever resign from office on August 9th, 1974. The contributing factors that led to his resignation cannot be boiled down to any single event. Rather, his coarse personality and unorthodox viewpoints led to his political retreat. The very existence of the Watergate scandal, a key event in the downfall of Richard Nixon as president, can be attributed to his overwhelming paranoia and his legitimate belief that some of his political enemies were evildoers. To overcome these enemies, he felt that he needed use any and every political weapon at his disposal to secure his place as president, with no regard to the legality of such measures. Nixon also believed that as president of the United States he was allowed to break certain laws and that he was exempt from investigation. Each of these traits alone is not uncommon in other politicians and world leaders; it's the combination of these factors that led to Nixon's resignation.

Unsurprisingly, his formative years influenced his eventual emotional issues and dubious morals. Nixon grew up in an environment devoid of affection. Bryce Harlow, an aide to Nixon, believed that he "as a young person was hurt very deeply by somebody... a sweetheart, a parent, a dear friend, someone he deeply trusted. Hurt so badly he never got over it and never trusted anybody again." Long-fostered paranoia was one of Nixon's dominating characteristics throughout his years as both Vice President and President. In fact, he saw his political rivals not just as threats to his position as president, but hostile towards him as a person. He saw himself as "facing enemies who he believed would stop at nothing" to ruin his political career. His beliefs stretched as far as viewing his political enemies as evil. Historian Lewis L. Gould states that indeed, "Nixon's crime ridden presidency was the fulfillment of a career driven by paranoia and a dark view of his political adversaries."

As a result of his paranoia, Nixon firmly believed that the media was always working against him. According to political Journalist Theodore White, Nixon got an unrealistically positive reception from the press when he was a young politician from the Los Angeles Times, a publication whose praise carried much weight in public opinion on politics. When a management change occurred at the Times, journalists began to report on him negatively, and this was the beginning of his distrust for the media. Nixon felt, in fact, that the entire "political universe ...was hostile to him and all his goals." During his first term as president, the media was not overly critical of him or his administration. In fact, Historian Godfrey Hodgson goes so far as to say that "the Administration, all things considered, got a remarkably easy ride from the press." But that didn't matter to Nixon; he still believed that the press was out to get him.

Paranoia alone, of course,...

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