troperville

tools

toys


main index

Narrative

Genre

Media

Topical Tropes

Other Categories

TV Tropes Org
random
Useful Notes: Richard Nixon
Pictured: A crook.

"[The American] people look at you and they see who they want to be. They look at me and they see what they are."
— To a portrait of John F. Kennedy, Nixon

Richard Milhous Nixon (January 9, 1913 – April 22, 1994) was the 37th President (1969-1974). A Republican, he served between Lyndon Johnson and Gerald Ford. Probably the least popular President among the general public, he is infamous for his role in the Watergate scandal which led to his resignation. Nixon remains the only President so far to resign from the office.

Born in California, Nixon was raised in the Quaker faith (a.k.a the pacifistic, egalitarian Society of Friends) and came from a very poor childhood. His father, a gas station attendant, barely scraped enough to support his family. He was named after Richard The Lionheart, interestingly. He met his future wife, Pat, in 1938, and they married two years later. After serving as a naval commander during World War II, Nixon pursued a political career. He was elected to the House of Representatives in 1946, representing his home state, and was elected to the Senate in 1950. During his congressional years, he gained nationwide attention as a leading anti-communist, criticizing the Harry Truman administration for being too "soft" on communism. In 1952, he ran on Dwight D. Eisenhower's presidential ticket and was elected as Vice President in a landslide. Just a few months before election day, a scandal erupted when it leaked to the press that Nixon was given funds from political backers, which is illegal. Nixon went on air to defend himself, claiming that all he received was a pet dog for his little daughter. The dog was named Checkers by the Nixons, and the "Checkers speech" quickly turned public opinion around in Nixon's favor. (Fun fact, the 60 million people who watched his speech was the largest television audience up to that point in history) It's worth mentioning that Nixon's infamous nickname, "Tricky Dick", was already attached to his name long before he was President. Nixon played a very active role during his eight years as Eisenhower's VP, and served as acting President when Eisenhower was in the hospital for a few weeks because of a heart attack. Eisenhower actually wanted to place Nixon in his Cabinet for his second term and have someone else serve as Vice President, but Nixon persuaded him to change his mind.

In 1960, Nixon ran as the Republican presidential nominee, up against Democrat John F. Kennedy. He narrowly lost that election, with people usually calling the definitive factor the televised debates between the two nominees. The first televised presidential debates, they are most well-known for the handsome Kennedy's suave, TV-friendly appearance and demeanor versus the nervous, sweaty, and tired Nixon looking bad in comparison. While Nixon's actual performance was good (the majority of people who just listened to the debates on the radio thought Nixon won), this was enough to swing just enough votes to Kennedy.note  Nixon was also recovering from the flu at the time, and he refused to wear TV make-up, claiming it was for gays. After that, Nixon would always wear a thick mask of makeup whenever he went on TV. He then tried to run for his state's governorship in 1962, but lost, leading him to declare "You won't have Nixon to kick around anymore because, gentlemen, this is my last press conference." Hilarious in Hindsight, indeed.

Then Lyndon Johnson happened. While the Democrats won a landslide in the 1964 elections, discontent at home and general unease over the Vietnam War caused a massive backlash. Sensing an opportunity, Nixon decided to run for President again. As one of the few prominent Republicans not associated with the humiliating defeat of 1964, Nixon easily won his party's ticket.note 

The 1968 election was one of the most unusual in American history. LBJ announced in early 1968 that he wasn't going to seek the Democratic nomination, which led to party leaders scrambling to win the open ticket. Robert F. Kennedy, John's brother, then appeared to be a lock for the nomination, but he was shot and killed the night he won the California primary. At the Democratic convention in Chicago, Johnson's own VP, Hubert Humphrey, finally won the ticket. However, anti-war protestors held a massive demonstration outside the building that turned into a violent clash when Chicago's mayor Richard J. Daley ordered the police to break it up. Broadcast live on television, the images gave the appearance that the Democrats had quite literally lost control and were unable to manage the fallout of the Vietnam War. Also fracturing the Democrats was the issue of civil rights. Since its founding in the 1830's, the Democrats' power base had always been the Deep South, but after Johnson passed his civil rights bills, Southern whites grew uneasy with their party. Nixon tapped into their feelings and drew them into the Republican Party, promising them he would support vague things like "states' rights" – which was code for "no more federal help for blacks". This was the start of the Republican's "Southern Strategy", where Southern states flipped their partisan leanings to become a dead lock for Republicans, who could then concentrate on winning other states to gain a victory in presidential elections. This directly led to the Republicans becoming the dominant party in the country.note note  Nixon also appealed to what he deemed the "Silent Majority" – the majority of Americans who were not protesting on the streets or attacking long-held social values. While the popular vote that year was almost as close as 1960 (Nixon won 43.4%, Humphrey won 42.7%, and infamous racist George Wallace won 13.5% by campaigning as a third party nominee in the South), Nixon won a landslide in the Electoral College. His running mate was Spiro Agnew, an outspoken and boorish rightwing populist politician who served as Nixon's attack dog.

Vietnam was the main issue of the day when Nixon entered office, with American troops dying there at the rate of 300 a week.note  In 1969, nearly two million people marched in cities across the country demanding an end to the war. Nixon promised to "Vietnamize" the war, meaning responsibility would be slowly shifted to the South Vietnamese as Americans troops were simultaneously removed. Nixon didn't really want to withdraw from Vietnam – he thought it would make America look weak and knew South Vietnam could not defend itself for long – but he accepted that the war was a losing cause. He had National Security Adviser (later Secretary of State) Henry Kissinger begin to conduct secret talks with North Vietnam to end the war. More importantly, he also ordered the secret bombing of Laos and Cambodia, and later an invasion of the latter, in an attempt to cut off supplies for the North Vietnamese. This move is widely considered to have led to massive blowback, as both countries (monarchies at the time) would fall to hardline Communist militias within just a few years. In Cambodia, a cruel dictator named Pol Pot gained power, and he would go on to kill a quarter of his country's population in less than four years.

These events eventually leaked to the public, along with the "Pentagon Papers", which proved that for years military leaders had known the war was an unwinnable quagmire, but had continually lied about this knowledge to the press and public. Other war-related controversies included the My Lai massacre and the Kent State shooting. As an outraged public turned even more against the war, Nixon began to send troops home. While he continued bombing North Vietnam (notably a massive bombing campaign when they North Vietnamese attacked just before the 1972 elections), peace talks between both halves of Vietnam in Paris permitted a cease-fire to be negotiated. By 1973, Congress had ended the draft (which had been in place continuously since World War II), all American ground troops were withdrawn, and both sides began to exchange POWs. Two years later, after Nixon was out of office, South Vietnam fell to the North Vietnamese Army. This feeling that the President had gained too much control over foreign affairs let to Congress passing the War Powers Act over Nixon's veto, which mandated that the President must report to Congress within 48 hours of committing troops abroad and that he must send them back in 60 days time.note 

On other foreign policy fronts, however, Nixon got much higher ratings from both the public and historians. His policy of d้tente with Red China and the Soviet Union earned praise. In order to successfully remove Americans troops without (immediately) losing South Vietnam, he tried to make both major communist powers promise to rein in North Vietnam. He also wished to play them against each other, since relations between the two had been deteriorating for some time. In 1972, Nixon announced that he and Kissinger were going to travel to China to visit Mao Zedong. This shocked the public, since not only did the United States not have diplomatic relations with mainland China (only with Taiwan, a.k.a the Republic of China, which had recently been stripped of its UN representation in favor of mainland China), but Nixon was the President making the visit. Any politician with fewer anti-communist credentials making the trip would have been blasted by the media as a secret communist sympathizer; due to his past (see above), no one could make these claims against Nixon. This led to the proverb, "Only Nixon could go to China." It paved the way for formal relations being established between the two in 1979. Brilliantly arousing Soviet suspicions with this trip, Nixon then traveled to Moscow, becoming the first American President to visit that country as well since the start of the Cold War (Franklin D. Roosevelt visited in 1945 to plan post-WWII conditions). He negotiated several deals with the Soviets, which can be summed up as "Both of us will stop producing certain types of missiles, and in return we'll ship to you nearly a billion dollars worth of wheat so your people won't starve." While these Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT) didn't really end the Cold War, it was the beginning of d้tente, which came to be the rule of the day for diplomatic relations before ending in the late 70s, due largely to the Soviet Invasion of Afghanistan. Less helpfully, Nixon also sent the CIA to help Augusto Pinochet lead a coup in Chile in 1973. Best to not bring that one up around Isabel Allende.

As far as domestic issues go, the Nixon presidency is usually associated with the start of the "stagflation" of the 1970's, where the economy simultaneously stopped growing and prices kept rising. When he entered office, unemployment was very low, but inflation was steadily rising. Starting in 1970, though, a recession began and the post-war economic boom finally came to an end. The main causes for this economic downturn can be summed up as follows: Johnson spent billions on both Vietnam and his domestic programs, and it caused federal deficits to rise significantly; the consequences of America's massive post-WWII population growth came due as Baby Boomers began to enter the workforce, and way more people than usual were looking for jobs, leading to a spike in unemployment; this was coupled with a cultural shift as more minorities, young people, and women also entered the workforce, and the job training for those groups wasn't as good as it was for the traditional workforce of adult white males; finally, American factories and companies did not update equipment for much of the 1950's and 60's, while foreign competitors like Germany and Japan – which had been bombed to smithereens and had to rebuild industrial infrastructure from the ground up – were using more advanced technology. His deals with the USSR also led to food prices at home increasing. To combat the inflation crisis, Nixon first took the dollar off the gold standard in 1971 (an event often called the "Nixon Shock"), which temporarily made inflation a bit worse, but in the long run made it easier for the dollar to float against foreign currencies. He also announced in 1972 a temporary 90-day price freeze; this was very unpopular at home, but businesses reluctantly followed along.note  By the end of 1972 a turnaround was beginning. But then, in 1973, the oil-producing countries of the Arab world raised their oil prices for the United States by 400 percent in retaliation for America sending aid to Israel during the Yom Kippur War.note  Until negotiations resulted in an end to the oil embargo the next year, Americans had to lower temperatures in their house, drive at slower speeds, and deal with long lines at the gas pumps, which were eventually rationed. This caused wild inflation for the rest of the decade, a stock market crash which saw the Dow Jones decrease by about 45% in just over a year, and another recession in mid-1974. The United States, realizing that other countries could hurt the economy by controlling the oil supply, began to search for alternative energy sources, a search which continues to this day. The recessions also helped fuel the growing crime wave which started in the 1960's, though they still weren't anywhere near their ludicrous highs during the 80's and early 90's.

He had a lot of other notable domestic policies, too. Many people today would be surprised to see that a Republican would pass so many bills which are, to modern sensibilities, liberal; domestic spending surpassed defense spending for the first time since the start of the Cold War. Noam Chomsky has gone so far as to call Nixon "the last true liberal President". While this is partially because moderate-at-heart Nixon did have some liberal sympathies, it was also because Democrats controlled Congress for the entirety of his presidency. He expanded and increased spending for the Great Society programs created under Johnson, increased Social Security payments, and created the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) to provide benefits for the elderly, blind, and handicapped. After Rachel Carson's book Silent Spring started the modern environmental movement, Nixon supported environmental initiatives, created the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and passed the Clean Air Act and the Endangered Species Act. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) was signed by Nixon, mandating safe working conditions for factories, construction, and other potentially dangerous jobs. Amtrak was also founded during his presidency. While he did cozy up to segregationists for votes, Nixon expanded "affirmative action" to make companies create goals and timetables for hiring acceptable numbers of minorities. More schools were desegregated under Nixon than under any previous President, even though he opposed busing children to separate school districts to forcibly desegregate schools. The Native American policies were drastically reformed under Nixon, with the unfortunate "termination" policy (basically forced assimilation) put to an end, and he helped save many reservations from being swallowed up by state governments. Nixon also supported the failed Equal Rights Amendment (ERA). He also called for more research for cancer and sickle cell disease, declaring a War on Cancer. Nixon also wanted to reform health care and extend it to every American; he won the latter but couldn't manage the former when Democrats, led by Ted Kennedy, opposed his proposals. Ted later called it the greatest mistake of his career. Ironically, Republican Nixon's proposals were actually more liberal than the universal health care reforms finally passed under Democrat Barack Obama. Nixon's reforms are a bit divisive, some maintaining that it made health care in America better performing, while others say he simply made it more expensive and more difficult for poor people to buy good health care. Still, his conservative principals shined every now and then; he usually tried to shift more power for these programs to the states, and he nominated the moderate Warren E. Burger to the Supreme Court after the very liberal Earl Warren retired. The Apollo moon landing happened months into his presidency, but he would go on to cut spending for NASA because he thought space exploration was too costly. One particularly infamous policy of his that was considered a good idea at the time but significantly less so now is that Nixon created the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) and started the War On Drugs, which when coupled with the growing crime wave mentioned above, led to a massive increase in America's prison population.

Nixon went into the election of 1972 with great odds. With the end of Vietnam in sight, landmark successes with China and the USSR, the economy seemingly under control, domestic program expansions, and a general appearance of being a good political moderator, Nixon was pretty popular, and his approval ratings in the months before the election were around 60%. However, remembering how close the elections of 1960 and '68 were, Nixon – who had long had a bit of a paranoid streak – was not willing to take any chances. He created two groups to help him win: The first, the "White House plumbers", which secretly went after possible government leaks to prevent future scandals; and the Committee for the Re-Election of the President, his fundraising campaign. While the actual initials for the latter group were "CRP", people today widely remember it as CREEP. Both groups used "dirty tricks"note  to help Nixon win the election. Notably, they sabotaged the campaigns of Democrats trying to win their party's ticket; the Nixon staff wanted liberal South Dakota Senator George McGovern, who they perceived as the weakest candidate, to win, and their efforts succeeded. They continued to interfere with his campaign for the rest of the election season. It also helped that McGovern's original running mate, Thomas Eagleton, was revealed to have undergone psychiatric care for depression – a far bigger deal back in those days – and he had to be replaced. Nixon won the election by a landslide, with over 60% of the popular vote and every state except Massachusetts (and the District of Columbia) voting for him. Worth mentioning, this was the first election following the passage of the 26th amendment, which lowered the voting age from 21 to 18. The argument was that if you are old enough to fight for your country, you're old enough to vote. Most people in that age group ended up staying home. It also helped that George Wallace, who planned on running again that year, was shot, paralyzing him from the waist down. With him gone, most of the hardcore segregationists in the South voted for Nixon, and they and their descendents have stayed in the Republican Party to this day. Early into his second term, Nixon's Vice President, Spiro Agnew, was forced to resign when it was revealed that he evaded paying taxes. Nixon then submitted the House Minority Leader, Gerald Ford, to be Vice President for the remainder of his second term.

All of this probably would have not been known until after his presidency if it wasn't for one thing. On June 17, 1972, five members of CREEP were caught breaking into the Watergate Building in Washington, D.C., where the Democratic National Committee was headquartered. They were there in order to bug the rooms so that they could eavesdrop on Democratic leaders. At the time, most people assumed Nixon had nothing to do with it considering his landslide reelection (which everyone, including him, expected), and that it was just rogues on his campaign staff getting out of control. In fact, they were right; Nixon actually didn't know about this (emphasis on this) break-in until after it happened. However, worried that the full-extent of his illegal activities would be known, Nixon tried to cover up information about the break-in. He also went before the public and assured them that he had no knowledge of the attempted sabotage of the Democratic campaign. The resulting scandal, forever known as the Watergate scandal, ended up being his undoing. Several investigations began, ranging from a congressional committee chaired by Sam Ervin, to the FBI, to the press, notably the Washington Post. Two reporters from the Post, Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward, were told by a mysterious insider informant codenamed "Deep Throat" (decades later revealed to be Associate FBI Director Mark Felt) that the burglars had received money from the Nixon campaign and that government officials were involved. As investigations went deeper and deeper, it became clear that high-ranking government officials were involved in this and many other scandals. Notably, when Nixon nominated L. Patrick Gray as Director of the FBI, Gray eventually made it clear during his Senate hearings that the FBI was indeed involved in a cover-up, that evidence had been destroyed, and that presidential aides participated in the break-in. They not only knew what was going on, but it was clear that they were active participants. Unsurprisingly, he was not confirmed as director by the Senate. At this point, the public began to realize that there was way more to this than was initially apparent. Nixon's approval ratings began to plummet, standing at 66% during his second inauguration and falling below 30% approval by the end of the year.

Things got worse for Nixon throughout 1973. On April 30, the two heads of the "plumbers", Chief of Staff H.R. "Bob" Haldeman and White House Counsel John Erlichman, resigned, Attorney General Richard Kleindienst quit, and White House Counsel John Dean was fired. On July 16, Alexander Butterfield, a White House aide, revealed that Nixon was secretly taping conversations in the Oval Office as well as his telephone calls.note  Both the Senate committee and Watergate Special Prosecutor Archibald Cox subpoenaed the tapes, but Nixon refused to release them, citing "executive privilege". Nixon wished to fire Cox, but only the head of the Justice Department could do that. On October 20, Nixon asked his new Attorney General to fire Cox; when he refused, Nixon demanded his resignation. When the Deputy Attorney General also refused, Nixon forced him to resign as well. The third-highest-ranking official, Assistant Attorney General Robert Bork† , then reluctantly fired Cox. This shocking turn of events, known as the "Saturday Night Massacre", was widely seen by the general public as proof that Nixon had to be guilty. Nixon tried to prove his innocence by releasing some minor tapes that didn't really reveal much, but the Senate committee demanded all of the tapes. In November, it was revealed that one tape contained nothing less than a 18ฝ-minute gap, clearly erased.note  On November 17, Nixon infamously declared during a press conference "People have got to know whether or not their President is a crook. Well, I'm not a crook. I've earned everything I've got." Those four words, "I'm not a crook", are forever associated with Nixon.

After more subpoenas from the Senate committee, on April 29, 1974, Nixon reluctantly disclosed more than 1,200 pages of transcripts of the tapes. It was widely acknowledged that these transcripts left out important information, though they strongly suggested that he was involved. Humorously, they were also edited to replace any use of profanity by the President with "[EXPLETIVE DELETED]" - White House protesters then held up signs saying "Impeach the [EXPLETIVE DELETED]". On May 9, the House Judiciary Committee began impeachment hearings, voting on July 27 to impeach him for obstruction of justice. On July 24, the Supreme Court unanimously ruled in United States v. Nixon that Nixon must hand over the unedited tapes. After the tapes were reviewed, it was released to the public on August 5 that one of the tapes from just days after the break-in showed that he was told about the break-in and that he ordered the FBI to coverup important information. With what was called the "Smoking Gun Tape" proving his guilt, pretty much everyone agreed that Nixon was guilty and should be removed from office. Surprisingly, Nixon still thought he could win this battle and told his Cabinet the next day that he wouldn't resign. However, important Republican leaders (including Barry Goldwater and George H.W. Bush) then met with Nixon and told him that he no longer had enough votes in Congress to prevent his impeachment and removal, and that for the sake of the party it was best that he resign rather than drag this out any further. On August 8, he went on television and announced to the American people that he was going to resign at noon tomorrow. Gerald Ford, declaring that "our long national nightmare is over", became President, the first time someone not on the presidential ballot was in charge of the country. The next day, as he prepared to fly back to California, he turned to the cameramen, smiled, and made V signs with both his hands, which has been widely parodied ever since. On September 8, Ford announced a sweeping pardon of Nixon for any crimes he may have committed while President.note 

It is widely accepted that Nixon was at least partially paranoid. While a skilled politician and a pragmatic leader, he was so worried about his legacy that he was willing to do almost anything he thought would help him. He was also worried that just about everyone was somehow out to get him.note  This is most apparent with his Enemies List, a (eventually very lengthy) list of public figures who Nixon considered to be his enemies and who were, therefore, subjected to the 'ratfucking' techniques of his operatives. It included people from a wide range of areas, such as politics, organized labor, the media, entertainment, business, and academia. Some particular notable people on the list included Ted Kennedy, Jane Fonda, John Lennon, and the entirety of the New York Times and Washington Post. Paul Newman considered his inclusion to be a triumphant achievement, while Hunter S. Thompson (who despised Nixon) reportedly felt disappointed to not be on it. Subsequent tapes have also revealed that Nixon was a bit of an anti-Semite, with Billy Graham usually agreeing with him about how the Jews controlled the media. Due to the Watergate scandal, Nixon is widely considered to be an Acceptable Target, and media portrayals of him will usually consider him to be a Designated Evil. At best, he'll be portrayed as a Jerkass Woobie. It doesn't help that many of his sayings and actions are so very easily parodied. It also didn't help that, in 1977, Nixon stated "If the President does it, that means it is not illegal." in a series of interviews with David Frost where he partially confessed to his crimes. The Nixon Mask is just one notable example of how his image has been dragged through the mud ever since he left office. Also, thanks to Watergate, you will see every scandal label "Something"-gate by the press. Oh, and during Watergate, it was revealed that Nixon did not pay all of his taxes while he was in the White House.note  Given his obsession with his legacy, it is rather ironic that Nixon may have been the one politician closest to a 0% Approval Rating in history: a Survey by Gallup in early August 1974 asked "Did you vote for Richard Nixon in 1972?" Recall he won in a huge landslide, mentioned above. However, not a single respondent admitted to voting for him. An actual 0% survey response.

Nixon spent the rest of his years with speaking engagements, writing books, and traveling around the world to meet foreign leaders. In fact, just months after he resigned, he was already telling people around him that he planned to make a political comeback. He gained some respect as an elder statesman, traveling around the world and meeting with foreign dignitaries at the request of whoever was the incumbent President. Initially, many foreign politicians from allied countries refused to meet with him (Margaret Thatcher, in her time before becoming Prime Minister, being an exception), but eventually people warmed up to him. In 1986, he visited the Soviet Union again and gave Ronald Reagan advice on how to get along with Mikhail Gorbachev; that year, a Gallup poll showed that Nixon was one of the ten most admired men in the world. He outlived his wife Pat by less than a year, dying on April 22, 1994. He didn't have a state funeral (at his own request, actually), but Bill Clinton (who got along quite well with him) and all of the former Presidents attended the funeral. You'd probably be surprised to hear that a lot of people still admire Nixon, but these people are clearly in the minority. Polls usually show that over 60% of the American public considers him to be a bad President, higher than those of any other former President. Even so, a growing number of people are willing to give him credit for the things he did right (environmental policy and d้tante) while still acknowledging that he was, in fact, a crook.

Nixon has long been a subject of particular interest for presidential historians, and serves as the canonical example of a deeply conflicted leader who "could be considered both a failure and great or near great" (Alan Brinkley). Thanks to his particular brand of paranoid neuroses (his tapes include lengthy rants about people – mainly part of the 'liberal east-coast establishment' – plotting against him), he's also been quite the fertile figure of study for psychologists. Also, he famously added a bowling alley to the White House.

The trope Richard Nixon the Used Car Salesman is named after him.

Nixon in fiction

  • The film All The Presidents Men tells the story of the reporters, Carl Bernstein (Dustin Hoffman) and Bob Woodward (Robert Redford), who uncovered the Watergate scandal. It was based on a non-fiction book of the same name written by the actual reporters.
  • Nixon is the last real life president known to have existed in The West Wing universe.
  • Played by Anthony Hopkins in Nixon (1995), from Oliver Stone. Which is saying something.
    • Stone also used some footage of him at the beginning of JFK. We hear that JFK got to be president by winning "one of the narrowest election victories in American history over vice-president Richard Nixon".
  • Nixon is the only character on-screen in Robert Altman's movie Secret Honor. He is played by Philip Baker Hall, who delivers a lengthy monologue into a tape recorder while pacing around his study.
  • The play (and subsequent film) Frost/Nixon dramatize the disgraced former President's 1977 television interviews with David Frost. Michael Sheen portrayed Frost and Frank Langella Nixon in both stage and screen productions. (And no, you are not immature for thinking the play was about something else.)
  • Is played by John Cusack in Lee Daniels' The Butler
  • In Back to the Future Part II, a year-old newspaper from 1985-A says Nixon has served four terms and plans to end The Vietnam War "by 1985".
    • Which sounds very awfully familiar …
    • Richard Nixon's alma mater, Whittier High School, was used as Hill Valley High School in the first two films.
  • Another Robert Zemeckis film, Forrest Gump, has Forrest unknowingly reporting the original Watergate break-in. Forrest thought the break-in was a power outage, and only reported it because the flashlights were keeping him awake. Ironically, it was Nixon who booked him a room at Watergate.
  • In Watchmen, Richard Nixon continues to govern in a fifth term, partly because he was reckless enough to order the god-like superhero Dr. Manhattan to attack the Vietcong and North Vietnam to win The Vietnam War, disregarding the dire implications of disrupting the international balance of power and riling the USSR up to prepare themselves for an all out fight. In addition, the Watergate Scandal doesn't happen because the Comedian assassinates Woodward and Bernstein.
  • The 1999 movie Dick had a humorous, almost Forrest Gump-like (see above) take on Nixon's administration. Kirsten Dunst and Michelle Williams played two ditzy hippie girls who ended up influencing governmental policy and becoming Deep Throat (named after one of the girls' brother's favorite movie).
  • Dave Barry Slept Here has the Running Gag of Nixon's political defeats being "widely believed to be the end of his career."
    • Elsewhere Dave states that Dick resigned to live in a state of utter disgrace: New Jersey.
  • A Nixon analogue, "Stanton Spobeck," is the president of "Americo" in Green Ronin's Damnation Decade RPG.
  • Cowboy Angels, by Paul McAuley, is a book about a group of people who travel through various alternate universes, or "sheaves". Due to when they visited it, our universe is referred to as "the Nixon sheaf".
  • In Slings and Arrows, Sanjay has a tendency to make up quotes and attribute them to Richard Nixon.
  • Nixon's disembodied head features frequently in Futurama. He became the president of Earth on his first major appearance and stayed there ever since, along with Vice President Agnew... a body with no head.
    Nixon's Head: Listen here, Missy. Computers may be twice as fast as they were in 1973, but the average voter is as drunk and stupid as ever. The only one who's changed is me. I've become more bitter and, let's face it, crazy over the years. And when I'm swept into office, I'll sell our children's organs to zoos for meat, and I'll go into people's houses at night and wreck up the place!
  • The Avengers:
  • In one episode of Yogi's Treasure Hunt, Hanna-Barbera villain Dick Dastardly announced his full name as Richard Milhous Dastardly, further cementing him as a "Tricky Dick".
  • Harry Turtledove and Richard Dreyfus' Alternate History novel The Two Georges, set in a world where America never left the British Empire, has "Honest Dick" as a used car salesman. He's murdered early in the novel as a Red Herring to the main crime, the theft of an important painting by anti-British extremists.
    • Another story, one where the US being neutral in World War I lead to Prussian peacekeeping forces under a League of Nations Mandate occupying the South, had Richard Nixon as The Man Behind the Man. His plan was simple: get the Democrats attempting to reach out to Martin Luther King's group to establish a political settlement and get the Germans out peacefully set up as assassins of the German Field Marshal Rommel. It works.
    • Also by Turtledove, in the Timeline-191 alternate history, Congresswoman Flora Blackford believes her office may be bugged. Her offices are checked by three technicians: Bob, Carl, and Dick (obviously Woodward, Bernstein, and Nixon). The author makes sure to mention Dick's dark five-o'clock shadow, and has him say, "Well, let me say this about that …" (a well-known Nixon Catch Phrase).
  • In an episode of WKRP in Cincinnati, Johnny is doing a remote from a stereo shop when it's held up. The perp turns out to be interested not in robbing the business but in replacing Johnny on air — he's a DJ who's been out of work for a long time. Johnny is sympathetic, and lets him escape when the police arrive. The episode's epilogue is a mock APB asking for the public's help in finding the robber, complete with Johnny holding up an Identikit sketch — of Richard Nixon.
  • In The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Brad and Janet are listening to the radio transmission of Nixon's resignation speech right before their car breaks down not too far from Frank's castle.
  • When Eric made a joke about Nixon on an episode of That '70s Show, his Republican father Red became very angry:
    Red: What did you just say?
    Eric:… That Nixon was framed, and that Kennedy was a Communist?
    Red: That's right.
    • Which is a Retcon if Red is a UAW member and thus Democrat, as suggested in an earlier episode, "Streaking" (in which then-President Ford comes to town and Red chastises him for pardoning Nixon).
  • In the first (and to-date, only) Comedy Central Commie Awards (Awards for Achievement in Comedy), Nixon is referred to as having won the award for Best Comedy Album for "The Watergate Tapes" — the clip played was, of course, an Atomic Cluster F-Bomb.
  • There is a persistent urban legend that Nixon himself (who was a football fanatic and a good friend of Redskins coach George Allen) once called a play in the Washington-San Francisco 1971 NFC Playoff game. It was a Wide Receiver Reverse called on the opponent's 8 yard line (a terrible place to do so) and lost 13 yards.
    • In Super Bowl VI at the end of that season, the Miami Dolphins (in their sixth year of existence) were facing the tough Dallas Cowboys. Reportedly, head coach Don Shula received a call from Nixon (having again appointed himself an honorary offensive coordinator) suggesting a down-and-in pass to their best wide receiver, Paul Warfield. The result of the play (used late in the first quarter) was an incomplete pass, and the Dolphins lost 24-3.
      • To be fair, the Dolphins' loss probably had more to do with their having played in what is still the longest game in NFL history just the previous week, rather than any one particular incomplete pass.
      • Not so much, the Dolphins played the Colts two weeks before in the AFC Championship. It was the Christmas Day game the week before against the Chiefs that had gone into double-overtime. Chalk it up to inexperience and a great day for the Cowboys running backs.
    • Speaking of football, in December 1969 Nixon attended a game between the Texas Longhorns and Arkansas Razorbacks (both of which were undefeated going into the game and ranked as the #1 and #2 college teams, respectively), after which he presented the Longhorns with a plaque naming them "national champions" … which many fans and commentators regarded as premature, given that Penn State's team was also undefeated at that point and none of the postseason bowl games had yet been played.
  • He is seen briefly in the film CSA: The Confederate States of America. Even if the film's Alternate History, he still loses presidency to John F. Kennedy. Whether or not he wins it later is never said.
    • He does win later according to the film's website. But he is forced to resign over a scandal. His parting words? "I am not a Negro."
    • In an interesting reversal, he is the Democratic candidate who loses to Kennedy's Republican bid.
  • In the film Black Dynamite, Nixon ends up as the Big Bad, being behind a conspiracy to use liquor to shrink the crotches of black men. He then proceeds to fight Dynamite with kung fu and John Wilkes Booth's gun. Lincoln's ghost shows up to save the day.
    • Nixon continues to be Black Dynamite's arch-nemesis in the animated series, much to the chagrin of Henry Kissinger, who at one point remarks "Why don't you find another black who isn't Dynamite to have an unhealthy obsession with?"
  • Nixon is mentioned several times in All in the Family, where his policies are matters of debate between Archie and Mike. In the episode "Writing the President", after Archie learns that Mike wrote a critical letter to him, he writes a praising letter, and imagines Nixon reading his letter out on national television.
    • Nixon himself can be heard discussing the show and this particular episode on the Watergate tapes.
  • The Manic Street Preachers song "The Love of Richard Nixon" takes a very sympathetic look at Nixon's life and career, pointing out triumphs of his presidency, and moaning about "death without assassination".
  • The fifth season of 24 features Jack Bauer going up against the White House, and draws so blatantly and heavily from the Nixon mythos that it's almost funny: not only does President Logan heavily resemble Nixon, but his Cassandra mentally unstable wife is named Martha …
  • In Fear, Loathing and Gumbo on the Campaign Trail '72 (an Alternate History work), for the 1972 election Nixon faces John Julian McKeithen, a more moderate Democrat capable of dirty tricks himself, as his chief challenger. However, McGovern still runs as a 'Peace' candidate, as does Wallace, with the result that the election produces a hung Electoral College and a long period of political grappling and chaos that makes our history's 2000 election look like peanuts by comparison.
  • In The Damned Highway: Fear and Loathing in Arkham, a mashup of Hunter S. Thompson and H.P. Lovecraft by Brian Keene and Nick Mamatas, Nixon is revealed to worship Cthulhu.
  • He's mentioned in Grease (set in the '50s); when the principal makes a speech, she says: "among you young men, there may be a Joe DiMaggio, a President Eisenhower, or even a Vice-President Nixon".
  • In a Cyanide and Happiness strip, a guy complains to Nixon about the food at the Watergate Hotel, to which he responds: "I'm not a cook!"
  • Young Republican Alex P. Keaton has a framed portrait of Nixon.
  • Despite being a pot-smoking ex-hippie, Jeffrey Lebowski aka "The Dude" has a framed photo of Nixon on his wall. Nixon, like the Dude, was an avid bowler.
  • The 1997 TV-movie Elvis Meets Nixon imagines events that led to the famous White House meeting of the two in 1970. President Nixon is trying to figure out how to connect to young people, and Elvis, sneaking out on his own for the first time in a dozen years, gets the idea to become a DEA agent.
  • Nixon In China, a 1987 opera by John Coolidge Adams.
  • Hunter S. Thompson had an intense hatred of Nixon, repeatedly using Nixon as a symbol of everything bad and wrong in America in pretty much everything he wrote after 1968. In Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas he goes on several rants against the president; in Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail '72 he follows George McGovern's attempt to unseat him; and he becomes one other legion of reporters closely following Watergate in 1973-4. He even blamed Nixon (tongue-in-cheek, sort of) for what he saw as a decline in the quality of pro football (which both he and Nixon loved) in the '60s.
  • Nixon appears in the Doctor Who two-parter "The Impossible Astronaut" / "Day of the Moon" as a hard, paranoid man being followed by the voice of a Creepy Child. He enlists the Doctor and Canton to help him. Despite his flaws being in full view for the episodes he actually comes off rather well due to how readily he helps the Doctor (said help being crucial in the Doctor's efforts against the Silence) and shows some genuine concern for the mysterious child calling him for help. Something especially notable given how universal his vilification and pillorying is in other media. Of course, it happened early in his presidency, and it turns out that some of his habits — paranoia and taping everything he did — may have been prompted or encouraged by their encounter.
    • The Doctor pretty clearly hold disdain for him and mocks him about how his presidency will end. "Say hello to David Frost for me." The production team basically said that, given the Doctor's tendency to meet some of the greatest figures of history in the new series, they thought it'd be fun to have him bump into, in their words, "one of the rubbish ones."
    • The episode also depicts Nixon as being completely accepting of interracial marriage, even offering to clear things on Canton's behalf to get him reinstated with the FBI, who fired him because of it. Although he politely lets him know he's drawing the line when Canton explains that he actually wants to marry a black man.
    Nixon: I think the moon is far enough for now, don't you, Mr Delaware?
  • In BBC Radio's The Burkiss Way there's a sketch in which Nixon's advisors tell him that Presidents like Franklin Delano Roosevelt and John Fitzgerald Kennedy owe their success to having silly middle names. They've tested a computer program for generating silly names on the vice president, but it malfunctioned and gave him silly first and last names: Spiro Agnewnote . When they test it on Nixon it comes up with two suggestions: "Millstone Round The Neck Of The American People" and "Biggest Crook In The White House". Nixon decides to compile his middle name from "Millstone" and "White House" and comes up with … "Stonehouse". (A reference to corrupt British politician John Stonehouse, who faked his own death.)
    • A later Burkiss episode centered around Nixon trying to get back into the public's good books by guest-starring on The Muppet Show.
  • The 1980 short story "A Cross-Country Trip to Kill Richard Nixon" by Orson Scott Card.
  • Nixon was resurrected by a congressional page in The Non-Adventures of Wonderella, and had planned on slaughtering the Presidental Turkey, but decided to become a fashion designer instead when he learned that he's considered 'cool' again. Later, he fakes a heroic death to paint himself in a good light and makes a new start in the Victorian Era.
    Nixon: Back before women wore pantsuits. What a glorious age.
  • In Mary Doria Russell's The Sparrow, the contact team to a new planet spend weeks in an unpopulated area getting acclimated and attaching cute names to the wildlife. Richard Nixons are little creatures that walk around bent over looking for food. Later on there's a reference to cleaning up the team's shuttle transport because there are Richard Nixons roosting in the undercarriage.
  • Nixon is one of the player characters in the "Five" level of Zombies Mode in Call of Duty: Black Ops.
  • Word of God says Nixon was the primary inspiration for Darkseid.
    • Emperor Palpatine, too.
    • "The Beast" in Transmetropolitan is acting President, and parrots a few of Nixon's quotes. Surprisingly, he's not an expy of Nixon; rather, Spider Jerusalem (an expy of Hunter S. Thompson) imagines him as being much worse than the reality.
  • The Sylvester and Tweety Mysteries, a Villain of the Week disguised himself as William Howard Taft and one of his explanations for this was the costume shop having no Nixon masks.
  • Histeria!: Nixon had a tape that could have cleared him but the Histeria kids, led to his office by Miss. Information, unwittingly recorded over it, ruining his chances of escaping the scandal.
  • The Simpsons contains numerous references to Nixon. Creator Matt Groening viewed him as the ultimate villain when he was growing up and has stated that he has the pleasure of being able to poke fun at Nixon thirty or forty years after he was in office.
    • Moe has a list of enemies that is just Nixon's enemies list with Nixon's name crossed out and substituted with his own. A highly disgruntled Moe adds Barney to the list when he points this out.
    • Nixon is a member of a Jury of the Damned with other infamous celebrities in a 1993 episode. He complains about being there since he's not dead, but bows to his master Satan because he owns a favor to the devil (which may have been Nixon selling his soul to the Devil to be President or not be implicated in Watergate). Six months after the episode aired, Nixon really did die, making the joke Hilarious in Hindsight (and edited out of UK TV for a time, as the joke was Too Soon).
    • Milhouse was named after President Richard Nixon, whose middle name was Milhous. The name was the most "unfortunate name Matt Groening could think of for a kid". Made more obvious in early episodes, when he would be introduced after Bart's now-forgotten friend, Richard. To twist the knife further, Milhouse is later given the middle name "Mussolini" as well.
  • In The Venture Bros., military-themed supervillain Sgt. Hatred had a framed picture of Nixon above his fireplace in the episode Home is Where the Hate is. This is the same show that has an affectionate parody/Expy of Hunter S. Thompson who, as noted above, hated Nixon, so having him be the hero to a supervillain is likely a big Take That.
  • He appears in X-Men: Days of Future Past, mostly set in 1973. He authorizes the Sentinel program, but eventually changes his mind after his life is saved by a mutant. Nixon is portrayed by Mark Camacho.
  • Nixon is a recurring character in The Non-Adventures of Wonderella, usually as the villain of the strip. Wonderella usually solves it by dumping him in a random time period.
  • Portrayed by Lane Smith in the 1989 TV movie The Final Days, focusing on Nixon's role in Watergate.
  • In Trading Places, Mortimer Duke has a portrait of Nixon on his desk, while his brother Randolph has a portrait of then-president Ronald Reagan on his desk.

Lyndon JohnsonThe PresidentsGerald Ford

alternative title(s): Richard M Nixon; Richard Nixon
random
TV Tropes by TV Tropes Foundation, LLC is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available from thestaff@tvtropes.org.
Privacy Policy
96270
45