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President Richard Nixon

President Richard Nixon

Richard Nixon is certainly not a paragon of virtue or your typical role model. Nevertheless, there are things we can learn from him and his career.

Nixon was derided, criticized and hounded by the press his entire life. The press did not like him. From the Checkers incident all the way to Watergate, he suffered the pangs of personal attacks. Consider:

  • Checkers Speech—In mid-September 1952, the Republican ticket of Dwight Eisenhower and Nixon faced a major crisis. The media reported that Nixon had a political fund, maintained by his backers, which reimbursed him for political expenses. Such a fund was not illegal, but it exposed Nixon to allegations of possible conflict of interest. Nixon went on national TV, defending himself as a common man and telling everyone that he would not give up the family dog, Checkers, just because he was a political gift. Nixon dodged the bullet and remained on the ticket.
  • The trouble wasn’t over, for Eisenhower was urged to drop him again in 1956; he didn’t.
  • NHe lost a close race for president in 1960 to John F. Kennedy—some say he probably won, but Nixon was enough of a gentleman to not demand a recount.
  • Eisenhower barely campaigned for Nixon and when asked to list Nixon’s accomplishments as vice-president, he could not come up with any.
  • He lost his race to be governor of California in 1962 and most, including Nixon himself, thought his career in politics was over.
  • He astounded many by winning his race for president in 1968; his first come back; but,
  • Allowed his insecurities to rule the day in the Watergate scandal—the irony is that George McGovern would never had beaten Nixon; there was no need to spy on McGovern’s headquarters.

Even so, during his presidency he:

  • Opened Communist China to the west; being the first president to visit China;
  • Laid the foundation for the end of the Vietnam War;
  • Was renown for his foreign policy decisions.
  • Was very popular, even in the midst of Vietnam War.

Remember, always give your best. Never get discouraged. Never be petty. Always remember, others may hate you. But those who hate you don’t win unless you hate them. And then you destroy yourself. —Richard M. Nixon

Leadership Lessons

  1. Previous failures do not define you or limit your potential.
  2. Don’t be afraid to open up new avenues, even with former enemies (China).
  3. Wait for it…even when pushed down (1960, 1962, 19731), you can bounce back.
  4. Do not hate your enemies.

1 1973 was the year Nixon resigned in disgrace; even so, presidents after him consulted him regularly on matters of foreign policy.