If you could write a Shakespearean tragedy about any United States president, none would be a more viable candidate than Richard Milhous Nixon (January 9, 1913 April 22, 1994).
Nixon was the 37th President of the United States (196974). The 14th President from the Republican Party, he served between Lyndon Johnson and Gerald Ford. He was the Vice President under President Dwight Eisenhower from 1953-1961. One of the—if not the—least popular Presidents among the general public today,note 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.
His actual first run for the White House came in 1960, making him the first incumbent vice-president to run for the top job in a century. This resulted in a surprise loss to John F. Kennedy, and while many blamed Nixon's defeat on a combination of bad luck and strategic errors — particularly his poor performance in the first presidential debatenote , and an Awesome, but Impractical attempt to campaign equally in all 50 states — Nixon himself believed that the Kennedy family, along with Democratic running-mate Lyndon Johnson and Chicago mayor Richard Daley, had all conspired to commit electoral fraud. While he certainly wasn't the only person to believe this,note in retrospect it's often pointed to as his Start of Darkness, with many close to him later saying it just made him more determined to win the White House than ever. Nixon was further humiliated in 1962, when he ran for Governor of California and lost in a landslide to popular incumbent Pat Brown. He capped off his defeat with a bitter, angry rant blaming the press for his defeat, termed his "Last Press Conference" as everyone assumed that Nixon had torpedoed his own career.
His reputation damaged by these defeats, Nixon held off on immediately running again in 1964 on the grounds that he could tell that running against Johnson (who replaced Kennedy after his assassination) would be futile. He spent the next several years rebuilding his reputation as a statesman and campaigning for Republican candidates in off-year elections, allowing him to pose as a conciliator between the party's conservative and moderate wings, who had bitterly divided during Barry Goldwater's 1964 campaign. Nixon easily won the Republican nomination in 1968, and crushed Democratic nominee Hubert Humphrey in the general election; Humphrey, as Johnson's Vice President, suffered from public backlash towards the Vietnam War, a divided opposition vote with segregationist candidate George Wallace, and his nomination being seen as a Consolation Award after the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy. Nixon is the most recent President to be elected after having previously been defeated, the last before him being Grover Cleveland in 1892.
Despite his poor reputation today, Nixon had a very successful first term in office with many positive achievements. He continued to implement Johnson's policies of achieving racial integration in American society and oversaw the desegregation of schools. He oversaw the creation of the EPA and OSHA, the passage of the Clean Air Act and other policies aimed at preservation of the environment and natural resources, the Moon Landing (even though he cut funding for NASA almost immediately afterwards) and worked to reform the American health care system with a proposal that was eerily similar to Barack Obama]'s Affordable Care Act, though only bits and pieces of it made it through Congress. In 1974, he signed into law an amendment to the Fair Labor Standards Act. That law raised wages by more than 40 percent. His administration also helped to advance women's rights, as he supported and oversaw the passage of the Equal Rights Amendment through Congress (even though it failed to achieve ratification after he left office) and oversaw the creation of social programs that expanded girls athletics and skills training in schools. (Yes, our current standard of girls having equal athletic and extracurricular programs as boys in our schools is owed to Nixon.) He also oversaw the ratification of a constitutional amendment that lowered the voting age to 18. He signed the National Cancer Act of 1971, which was the first major national effort towards cancer eradication, generally considered to be the starting point of the War on Cancer. More controversially, he also launched the War on Drugs. He also implemented a number of sudden economic reforms that became known as the "Nixon shock", most notably ending the gold standard and turning the US Dollar into a floating currency.
In foreign policy, Nixon worked with his National Security Adviser, Henry Kissinger, to wind down The Vietnam War, greatly reducing conscription (and abolishing it completely in 1973, making military service entirely voluntary) while turning over the defense of South Vietnam to their own forces in a process termed "Vietnamization". Although many of Nixon's tactics, such as increased bombing of North Vietnam and his 1970 invasion of Cambodia, were (and remain) extremely controversial, he was able to conclude American involvement in the war by the end of his first term.note Most notable was Nixon's historic 1972 visit to China where he established US relations with Chairman Mao's Communist regime for the first time. It earned widespread media coverage and coined the phrase "only Nixon could go to China", to describe how a politician with an unassailable reputation on a certain cause can take action that would seem contrary to it without drawing criticism — such as how Nixon could be trusted to visit and establish relations with Communist China given his unquestionable anti-Communist credentialsnote . The China visit had the side effect of reducing tensions with the Soviet Union, as Soviet Premier Leonid Brezhnev was so shaken by the idea of the Chinese moving closer to America that it moved him to invite Nixon to Moscow to work out their differences. Together they agreed to two landmark arms control treaties, SALT I and the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty. The two leaders emerged from their meeting to announce the treaties and a new shared foreign policy goal of peaceful coexistence between the two nations, an objective that became known as "détente". He is also remembered as the American President under wich the CIA plotted to support the overthrow of the socialist president of Chile, Salvador Allende, by the chilean military under general Pinochet, in the larger context of "Operation Condor", a political repression campaign organized by right-wing authoritarian regimes in South America and the United States aimed at stopping "the spread" of socialism and communism in South American countries.
While Nixon governed as a moderate, New Deal-era conservative, his rhetoric was a different matter entirely. Historians often look to Nixon as a progenitor of the "conservative revolution" that kicked off under Ronald Reagan in The '80s, largely by spurring a realignment of American politics in response to the changes of The '60s. He popularized the term "Silent Majority" to describe the great mass of Americans who, even if they may have disagreed with the war in Vietnam, weren't out in the streets protesting, and certainly weren't into all the drugs, sex, and other junk coming out of the hippie movement. His personal grudge against the press, whom he blamed for his past political failures, helped mainstream accusations of "media bias" which remain commonplace in American politics. Needless to say, Nixon became the eternal enemy of the era's counterculture, perhaps best personified by Hunter S. Thompson, who declared Nixon his Arch-Enemy, along with more mainstream liberals already suspicious of him. His "Southern strategy" is often credited with cleaving away two major Democratic constituencies, white Southerners and white working-class Northerners, by appealing to their right-wing social views.
Playing to patriotism, religious conservatism, and backlash against the Civil Rights Movement, Nixon framed the Democrats of the era as the party of "acid, amnesty, and abortion" — a party defined by the worst excesses of the counterculture that was happy to welcome draft-dodgers back in with open arms (the "amnesty" part) and force shocking new social mores on the rest of the country (the "acid" and "abortion"), versus a Republican Party that stood for the flag, faith, and family values. Nixon dreamed of a massive realignment of the political system, creating a new party consisting of the conservative elements of both parties (he had as little use for "liberal Republicans" like Nelson Rockefeller as he did Democrats), though in practice this never happened. He parlayed his longtime suspicion of the "Eastern Establishment" into a populist anti-elitism, emphasizing that he wasn't part of the upper crust that went to Ivy League schoolsnote but was rather a man of the people raised on a ranch.
Given all of his achievements, Nixon enjoyed high approval ratings throughout his first term to the point that his re-election in 1972 appeared a given. His major foreign policy breakthroughs during the election year prevented the Democrats from launching any meaningful campaign against him and he easily steamrolled opponent George McGovern in one of the biggest landslide victories in history. Nixon won every state except for Massachusetts, which lead to "Don't Blame Me, I'm From Massachusetts" bumper stickers becoming popular as Nixon's support cratered. Another notable event of this election was when five men were arrested in June 1972 after being caught breaking into the Watergate hotel to bug the Democratic National Committee's offices.
Nixon's second term was almost entirely dominated by the Watergate scandal. The break-in inadvertently revealed a wide range of illegal activities and abuses of power by the Nixon administration, which included his use of the FBI, CIA and IRS as political weapons to suppress his opponents (compiled in a so-called "enemies list"), along with the creation of a privately-run "intelligence" agency known as the "Plumbers." Initially formed to stop leaks of sensitive documents after Daniel Ellsberg's release of the Pentagon Papers (which were effectively declassified to the American public after Alaskan Senator Mike Gravel read them into the Senate record), the Plumbers (among them ex-FBI agent Gordon Liddy and former CIA agent E. Howard Hunt) almost immediately descended into illegal behavior. Among their activities: a break-in at the office of Ellsberg's psychiatrist to find damaging information, intimidating witnesses in an anti-trust action against ITT (a major donor to Nixon's campaign), spying on and planting damaging stories about Ted Kennedy and other Democrats in the media, and beating up antiwar demonstrators. Which isn't to mention Liddy's proposals to firebomb the liberal Brookings Institution and assassinate journalist Jack Anderson, which were (thankfully) vetoed by his superiors.
Through these means (which collectively became known as the "White House horrors"), Nixon and his campaign then worked to sabotage the campaigns of Democratic presidential candidates to ensure that they nominated McGovern, the candidate Nixon thought he could most easily defeat in the general election.note While Nixon likely didn't order the Watergate break-in personally, his White House staff - including chief of staff H.R. "Bob" Haldeman and domestic adviser John Ehrlichman, known as the "Berlin Wall" for their closeness to the President - provided the Plumbers with a long leash to engage in any activities, legal or otherwise, which might help the President's reelection chances.
Although Nixon's cover-up was initially successful, information slowly became public through a long series of explosive reports in The Washington Post as reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein corresponded with a source high-up in the federal government known as "Deep Throat", revealed decades later to be deputy FBI director Mark Felt.note As the investigations grew closer to the White House, Nixon tried to do whatever he could to obstruct them or shut them down completely, firing Haldeman, Ehrlichman and other aides who became implicated in the scandal while paying hush money to Hunt, Liddy and the other burglars to prevent them from talking. Responding to Watergate began to consume all of his time and attention and he became increasingly ineffective as President.
The investigation took a dramatic turn in the summer of 1973 as the Senate Watergate Committee held public hearings into the scandal, with numerous Nixon aides (notably John Dean, his former counsel) revealing presidential involvement in the cover-up. The committee learned from a seemingly minor witness, Alexander Butterfield, that there was a system in the White House that recorded Nixon's conversations. While previous presidents had recorded some of their conversations, Nixon used a self-operating system that recorded every conversation in the White House, including ones that implicated him. Pressure mounted on Nixon to turn the tapes over to Congress and special prosecutor Archibald Cox, but he refused on the grounds on executive privilege, offering to hand over redacted transcripts instead (and later offering to have them verified by longtime Senator John Stennis, who was both a Nixon supporter and partially deaf), which he said was necessary to prevent the exposure of sensitive information pertinent to national security. When Cox subpoenaed the White House for the tapes, Nixon moved to have him fired in what became known as the "Saturday Night Massacre," which also resulted in the resignations of Attorney General Elliot Richardson and his deputy, William Ruckelshaus, for refusing to fire Cox. Around the same time, Vice President Spiro Agnew resigned on unrelated charges of bribery and tax evasion, further damaging Nixon's credibility; Agnew was soon replaced by Gerald Ford, the House Minority Leader.
The firing of Cox brought America to the brink of a constitutional crisis, triggered widespread national outrage and Nixon's support cratered. The tug-of-war for the tapes reached the Supreme Court in Summer of 1974, which ordered they be released to investigators. The tapes ended up damaging Nixon twofold: first, by being a Smoking Gun which proved Nixon was personally involved in efforts to cover up the Watergate break-in, a process which began almost immediately after it happened; second, by displaying Nixon's private tendency towards exceedingly foul language and disparaging comments towards political opponents, media figures and a variety of minority groups - most frequently, and notoriously, Jews. With Nixon's involvement now effectively established, the House of Representatives began the process of impeachment, with the Judiciary Committee voting in July to introduce three articles of impeachment to the full House. Knowing his fate was sealed, Nixon resigned the office on the morning of August 9, 1974, famously departing the White House via helicopter. Shortly thereafter, successor Gerald Ford pardoned Nixon of any and all crimes he committed during his own administration. In October 1974, after resigning from office, Nixon fell ill with phlebitis; after consulting his doctors, who told him that if he didn't undergo surgery, he could die from the illness, Nixon reluctantly went under the knife and chose surgery, which extended his lifespan.
Nixon would undergo his final Redemption Quest to salvage his legacy through the famous Frost/Nixon interviews and his expertise of foreign affairs, which made him a sought-after commentator and valued, informal foreign policy adviser to succeeding administrations. Nixon urged Reagan to collaborate with the Soviets on space travel as a peace gesture, met Deng Xiaoping after Tiananmen Square to reiterate the U.S. government position, and while originally critical of Bill Clinton, congratulated the new President on his well-run campaign. Clinton was a Country Mouse and Southern governor who just arrived with his team from Arkansas, and his administration was facing a a rough start with the bulk of it, including the President himself, being novices to Washington. An Odd Friendship began, where Nixon advised Clinton on how to handle a volatile situation in Russia concerning American support for Boris Yeltsin (Nixon told Clinton to support him.) Clinton began to consult more frequently with Nixon. The Fallen Hero and Broken Ace would mentor the new President, and the two grew so close, a visibly distraught Clinton presided over Nixon's funeral services in 1994.
The combination of Nixon's many positive achievements with his abuses of power and the resulting distrust in government institutions has left him with a very complicated legacy. Reactions to his death in 1994 further illustrated how historians and the public had been struggling to understand how to view the disgraced President. It has been repeatedly expressed that had Watergate not occurred, Nixon could be easily ranked as one of America's greatest Presidents, especially regarding his achievements in foreign policy. Had Watergate not happened, his approval ratings were high enough that it is very likely he would have been elected anyway - the ultimate irony being that he would most likely never have been removed from power had he not been so desperate to ensure that didn't happen. However, opinion of him skews strongly negative and he has been consistently ranked as one of the worst Presidents in surveys of both scholars and the public. Posthumous allegations from one of his associates claiming that he wanted to suppress liberals and African-Americans via the war on drugs certainly didn't help, nor did recent confirmation of the long-standing rumors that he sabotaged the Paris Peace Talks to secure his election, and increased public knowledge and scholarly debate about his expansion of American military operations in Vietnam to Cambodia (where the North Vietnamese had already been basing themselves for years) and the lasting effects it had on the southeast Asian nation (some, mostly journalists without formal historical credentials, claim that it helped bring the Khmer Rouge to power, while historians emphasize the military situation, which was objectively unfavorable for the Khmer Rouge before the withdrawal and the subsequent March 1970 North Vietnamese invasion in support of their fellow communists). He has also been credited, or blamed depending on one's perspective, with cementing the conservative takeover of the Republican Party while pioneering the divisive rhetoric endemic to modern politics. He is effectively a persona non-grata in American politics and being a Nixon supporter today is about as socially acceptable as supporting the Westboro Baptist Church.
A major facet of Nixon's legacy is his endurance as the face of political corruption in America, as the Watergate scandal and his numerous abuses of power it revealed continue to outweigh any and all of his administration's positive achievements in the public conscience. Successor Gerald Ford's pardon of him generated widespread outrage and while Nixon again achieved good things as an elder statesman in The '80s, such as his role in arranging the historic Gorbachev-Reagan talks (accompanied by this famous cover of a 1986 issue of Newsweek◊ declaring "He's Back"), he never managed to shake off the legacy of Watergate. He has continued to serve as the prototype for a corrupt President in popular culture with the term "Nixonian" being been coined to describe behavior and abuses of power by politicians that are reminiscent of his. Whenever a President is caught up in a scandal, comparisons to Nixon are almost mandatory. This was particularly the case when Nixon served as the linchpin of the national debate over the impeachment of Bill Clinton in 1998: Allies argued that his misdeeds were petty when compared to Nixon's while opponents argued that Clinton was undermining the rule of law in a manner just as severe as Nixon's. The numerous scandals that shadowed Donald Trump and eventually led to his impeachment have yet again brought Nixon to the forefront of American political discussion.
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). 1995's Nixon, starring Anthony Hopkins as the nation's 37th president, directed by Oliver Stone, is one of the more recent biopics done about his life, as well as one of the more controversial (with Stone being accused of being both too hard and too soft on Nixon, depending on who you ask). Biographers often see him as a "tragic" figure: a brilliant, driven and capable man who was undermined by his prejudices, paranoia, and emotional scars. Thanks to his particular brand of paranoid neuroses (among other things, his tapes include lengthy rants about people— mainly part of the "liberal east-coast establishment"— allegedly 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.
Nixon's equally popular for fictional portrayals. One can even make the case that he and his Presidency is the most frequently depicted in popular culture as Historical Domain Character, far more than any office-holder other than Lincoln. One reason for this is that his presidency coincided with the politically charged period of the New Hollywood, where films like All the President's Men released a few years after Watergate cemented him in popular memory before the setting-in of the halo that earlier scandal-plagued presidents underwent. This ensured that films critical of Nixon established itself as a market for Hollywood. Ironic, since Nixon — a Southern California native (indeed, he was the first person born on the West Coast to be President)note — was a huge movie buff and indeed provided tax cuts to the motion picture industry during the same period, creating the very conditions for this politically charged era of film history. While Nixon's unique appearance and idiosyncrasies make him such an appealing subject for caricature, it also makes it hard to find an actor who actually resembles him, at least by conventional standards of leading men.
The trope Richard Nixon, the Used Car Salesman is named after him.
Nixon in fiction
- 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 Woodward and Bernstein were killed by an assassin, implied to be the Comedian. Alan Moore stated that he used Nixon as a stand-in for Ronald Reagan because the former was an Acceptable Target in a way Reagan wasn't.
- Word of God says Nixon was the primary inspiration for Darkseid.
- "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 Avengers:
- The Avengers once traveled back in time to the '50s and teamed up with some contemporary heroes (3D-Man, Gorilla Man, etc.) to stop a shapeshifting alien who was impersonating Vice President Nixon.
- For that matter, at the time that Watergate was going down, Captain America comics were coming out where Cap was fighting the Secret Empire, a KKK-esque group of super-scientists who were targeting mutants for capture for evil experiments. When he found the leader, faces weren't shown, names weren't said, but it's blatantly obvious that this was Nixon. Rather than face arrest, he pulled out a ray gun and killed himself◊. These were in the days when if a major public figure like the President cameoed for more than a few panels it always came off as a Kodak moment, but this was a major jaw dropper at the time. The shock of finding out that the President was the leader of the KKK's anti-mutant science division had Cap briefly renounce his hero identity and become Nomad.
- Later stories retconned the identity of Number 1 as being either a generic government official, or the Chief of Staff, limiting it to Thomas H. Moorer or George S. Brown.
- In The Sandman, Nixon appears in a dream to president-to-be Prez Rickard, mocking John F. Kennedy and warning of Boss Smiley. This Nixon is a lot more sympathetic than 99% of post-Watergate portrayals; rather than some kind of power-hungry President Evil, he's depicted as just a bitter, self-pitying old man sharing (what he believes to be) Brutal Honesty about the Oval Office:
Nixon: As far as the mass of voting morons is concerned, while you're in office, you'll be the worst single President they've ever had. Until you stop. Then it's some other poor bastard's turn. And even that doesn't matter, because ten, twenty years down the line, they'll look back on you, and wonder why they didn't appreciate you when they had you.
- He makes an appearance in one Bloom County strip, joining Milo and Binkley in line to visit the 1980's White House as a tourist:
Milo: Man! Ain't this place GRAND!
Nixon: 'Tis true!
Milo: The center of influence and authority for the whole darn world.
Milo:You can almost smell the power!
- The film All the President's 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.
- Played by Anthony Hopkins in Nixon (1995), from Oliver Stone. Which is saying something. Stone's portrayal of Nixon isn't unsympathetic, devoting time to his troubled background and loving marriage, but focuses heavily on the President's obsession with antiwar "subversives," his shady dealings with the CIA and Big Business, and naturally the Watergate scandal.
- A fictional executive order from Nixon is shown in the opening credits of Monty Python and the Holy Grail.
- 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 played 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 newspaper from 1985-A says Nixon has served at least four terms (and was seeking a fifth term!) and plans to end The Vietnam War "by 1985". Richard Nixon's alma mater, Whittier High School, was used as Hill Valley High School in Parts I and II.
- 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 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.
- He appears in X-Men: Days of Future Past, mostly set in 1973, protrayed by Mark Camacho. Oddly enough, this film offers one of Nixon's more sympathetic portrayals: He reluctantly authorizes the Sentinel program, but eventually changes his mind after his life is saved by a mutant.
- 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). Nixon is played by Dan Hedeya.
- Portrayed by Lane Smith in the 1989 TV movie The Final Days, focusing on Nixon's role in Watergate. Smith's performance earned a Golden Globe nomination and he's generally considered one of the best screen Nixons.
- Another television film, Kissinger and Nixon, focuses on the Paris Peace Accords to end the Vietnam War. Beau Bridges plays Nixon, Ron Silver is Henry Kissinger and George Takei is North Vietnamese leader Le Duc Tho.
- 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.
- He is seen briefly in the film C.S.A.: The Confederate States of America. Even in 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.
- 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 is played by Bob Gunton.
- In the 2016 film Elvis & Nixon (another fictionalized account of the 1970 meeting), Nixon is played by Kevin Spacey.
- 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".
- The Godfather Part II features Peter Donat as the crooked Senate lawyer, Questadt. Francis Ford Coppola says on the commentary that he modeled the character on a young Nixon interrogating Alger Hiss, even casting an actor who resembles Nixon.
- Features in the 1978 film Born Again, a biopic of Chuck Colson, White House counsel-turned-Christian evangelical, played by Dean Jones. Nixon is played by Dean Spillman.
- Played by Christopher Shyler in J. Edgar, where he orders his staff to plunder Hoover's secret FBI files after his death.
- There's an obscure 1970s comedy called Another Nice Mess, which spoofs Nixon and Spiro Agnew as a Laurel and Hardy-style bumbling duo. Nixon is played by famous impressionist Rich Little. This film was produced by comedian Tom Smothers, as a Take That! against Nixon for persuading CBS to cancel The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour.
- 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—74. 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. However, he did say in 2004 that "Nixon was a professional politician, and I despised everything he stood for—but if he were running for president this year against the evil Bush—Cheney gang, I would happily vote for him."
- 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".
- 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 Catchphrase).
- Thomas Mallon's 2012 book Watergate: A Novel offers a fictionalized version of the Watergate scandal. Nixon himself is a peripheral character, though; Mallon focuses on Nixon's wife Pat, political operative Fred LaRue, and other lesser-known figures more than he does the President.
- 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.
- Philip Roth wrote a satirical novel about Nixon in 1971, called Our Gang. In the book President Tricky E. Dixon comes out in favor of voting rights for the unborn, has to face the arising accusation by the Boy Scouts that he supports sexual intercourse and invades Denmark as a distraction. He's eventually assassinated and ends up in Hell, campaigning against Satan for the position of Devil.
- Nixon was evidently a Berserk Button for Roth as many of his works reference him, or even discuss him at length, inevitably in a highly disparaging light. American Pastoral includes several scenes where the protagonists discuss the Watergate scandal, and Roth devotes a large section of I Married a Communist to an Author Filibuster about Nixon's funeral and his harmful impact on American politics.
- The 1980 short story "A Cross-Country Trip to Kill Richard Nixon" by Orson Scott Card, collected in Maps in a Mirror.
- 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.
- 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.
- Robert Coover's 1977 novel The Public Burning features Vice President Nixon as a Villain Protagonist presiding over the trial and executions of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg. A mixture of Alternate History and satire of the Red Scare, which climaxes with Nixon being raped by an anthropomorphic Uncle Sam. The book was suppressed when Nixon's lawyers threatened to sue the publishers; after much finagling, it was finally released and became a best seller.
- Stephen King despises Nixon and a lot of his books, especially his earlier novels, include jabs at him. In 'Salem's Lot he paints one character as an Asshole Victim by saying that he supports Nixon even after Watergate. There's also a comic scene in The Dead Zone where Johnny Smith wakes up from his coma, learns that Nixon left office while he was unconscious, and expresses horror thinking that Spiro Agnew is now president. (Of course, Agnew resigned and Gerald Ford had replaced Nixon.)
- Austin Grossman's 2015 novel Crooked imagines a supernatural Alternate History where Nixon's Red-baiting and paranoia are a cover for his battle against interdimensional demons working to destroy mankind.
- John Ehrlichman parlayed his time as Nixon's domestic advisor into three Roman à Clef novels, which offer a thinly-veiled (and scathing) portrait of the Nixon White House. One novel, The Company, was adapted into the TV miniseries Washington Behind Closed Doors starring Cliff Robertson and Jason Robards.
- Nixon shows up in James Ellroy's Blood's a Rover. Ellroy portrays him as utterly corrupt (The Mafia gives him millions of dollars in exchange for favors) and incredibly profane, but viewed through the lens of Ellroy's deeply cynical worldview he almost comes off sympathetically.
- Nixon is the last real life president known to have existed in The West Wing universe.
- 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 accepting of interracial marriage (or at least, willing to be flexible about it), even offering to clear things on Canton's behalf to get him reinstated with the FBI, who fired him because of it. And after a stunned moment, he politely - if stiffly - lets Canton know where he's drawing the line when Canton explains that he actually wants to marry a black man, before averting his face with an expression of mild horror.
Nixon: I think the moon is far enough for now, don't you, Mr Delaware?
- Sue Sylvester on Glee keeps a portrait of Nixon in her office while serving as Principal.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- One episode of The King of Queens had Arthur bring out a potato chip he claimed looked liked Richard Nixon which is apparently "the Roll's Royce of president shaped chips". Doug claimed it looked more like his uncle Stu to which Arthur responds "Your uncle Stu wishes". In the end Doug eats the potato chip.
- He is heard in the episode "Mentalo Case" which focus on a toy genie Doug had as a child that gave advise, in the end we got an outwards shot of the white house on august 1974 were he was heard asking if he should resign presidency of the united states, to his dismay "The spirits say proceed".
- Family Ties: Young Republican Alex P. Keaton has a framed portrait of Nixon.
- In Slings & Arrows, Sanjay has a tendency to make up quotes and attribute them to Richard Nixon.
- Nixon is mentioned several times in All in the Family, where his policies are matters of debate between Archie and Mike. One of the show's Running Gags is Archie getting the president's middle initial wrong, referring to him as Richard E. Nixon. 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 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...
- Nixon's the One, a Sky TV series starring Harry Shearer as Nixon. The show mainly consists of reenactments of the White House tapes played for comic effect.
- On a 1986 episode of the Bob Eubanks version of Card Sharks, one of the questions was surveying 100 business executives and asking them if they would hire Nixon if he applied for a job.
- When the Presidential Wax Museum in Gettysburg shut down and auctioned off its figures, his was one of five purchased by Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, described as "a store-brand Mitt Romney."
- In the dialysis episode, John is quite surprised to hear someone in the audience actually cheer for him.
John: This country did an amazing thing! Richard Nixon [audience member hoots] did a-Really?! Wow, history has changed!
- In the dialysis episode, John is quite surprised to hear someone in the audience actually cheer for him.
- Mad Men is framed by Nixon's political career. The race between him and John F. Kennedy takes place in the background of Season 1. Sterling-Cooper is in Nixon's corner and Don verbally favors the self-made Californian over the playboy heir Kennedy. Nixon is finally elected at the end of Season 6.
- One episode of Legends of Tomorrow has Nixon infected by a magical beetle which makes him incapable of lying, which leads to a breakdown of the international order, as he can no longer apply the rules of diplomacy. To fix this, the Legends have to kidnap him until they can get rid of the beetle, leaving Charlie to fill in for him until they get him back.
- David Bowie briefly mentions Nixon in the title track of Young Americans: "Do you remember/your president Nixon?/Do you remember/the bills you had to pay/Or even yesterday?" This came about thanks to Bowie learning about Nixon's resignation just two days before the song was recorded.
- The Manic Street Preachers song "The Love of Richard Nixon" takes an unusually sympathetic look at Nixon's life and career, pointing out some of the positive achievements of his presidency, all inevitably overshadowed by the Watergate Scandal.
- An extended version of Frankie Goes to Hollywood's "Two Tribes" is introduced with a cut-up of Nixon's 1960 presidential address.
- Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young's protest song "Ohio" explicitly blames Nixon for the Kent State shootings in May 1970.
- 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.
- The 1972 Miami Dolphins never got invited to the White House following their historic undefeated season. This has been said to have been an intentional snub because they beat his favorite team, the Washington Redskins, in the Super Bowl. However, this has been disputed by others as the tradition inviting the winner of the year's Super Bowl to visit the President had not yet been established (It is generally agreed to have begun with Jimmy Carter's invitation to the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1980). They eventually got their White House visit in 2013 on the behalf of Barack Obama.
- 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.
- Among Nixon's other contributions to American culture, one can't forget the still-popular Nixon Mask. The Spiro Agnew watch lacked its staying power, but became a popular collector's item.
- Another urban legend has Nixon as a surfer who had his own private beach. He got into trouble one day and two surfers who were trespassing on the beach saved him. Nixon said he'd grant each of them any favor he could. One of them said he wanted the beach to be open to the public, and the other wanted a burial plot at Arlington National Cemetery..."cause when my dad finds out I saved Richard Nixon, he's gonna kill me!"
- "The Begatting of the President" is a satire of the Kennedy-Johnson-Nixon presidencies in the language and style of the Old Testament of the Christian Bible; Nixon is the central character. Originally a stapled pamphlet, it was dramatized as a spoken word album with Orson Welles as the narrator.
- A Nixon analogue, "Stanton Spobeck," is the president of "Americo" in Green Ronin's Damnation Decade RPG.
- Two high-profile board games, Watergate and 1960: The Making of the President heavily feature Nixon, with one player playing the President. Plenty of other games also have Nixon as an influential figure, most notably Twilight Struggle.
- Nixon In China, a 1987 opera by John Coolidge Adams, is about Nixon's famous trip to China and the impact it had. It's considered something of a modern classic and features some pretty good arias for Nixon himself (see, for instance, the iconic "News").
- 1972 saw a Broadway musical adaptation of The Selling of the President, Joe McGinnis' nonfiction book about Nixon's presidential campaign. Pat Hingle played the Nixon stand-in, Senator George W. Mason. The play received devastating reviews and was cancelled after only five shows.
- Gore Vidal penned a satirical play entitled An Evening With Richard Nixon in 1971.
- In BBC Radio's The Burkiss Way there's a sketch in which Nixon's advisers 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.
- Nixon appears in Arfenhouse 3 and Arfenhouse: The Movie as "TEH JINTOVMAHBUTT."
- Nixon is one of the player characters in the "Five" level of Zombies mode in Call of Duty: Black Ops. He's presented in the intro as skittish and overly paranoid, being the first to assume that anything is wrong just from hearing a loud noise ("Sounds like someone's breaking in!"). Of course, he turns out to be right. In the normal game, he also has a login in the CIA database that can be accessed from the hidden terminal in the main menu (rnixon, password "checkers"), in which the only unique item is an email from Lyndon Johnson congratulating him over winning the 1968 election.
- The American president in Tropico 4, Nick Richards, basically is Nixon.
- In The New Order Last Days Of Europe, an Alternate History Nazi Victory mod for Hearts of Iron IV, Richard Nixon is the starting President of the United States of America, prevailing over Strom Thurmond of the National Progressive Party in a Landslide Election in 1960. Despite coming to power 8 years earlier than his real life counterpart, Nixon still becomes involved in a major political scandal about illegal activities against the opposing party and still resigns in the face of impeachment, passing his duties to Vice President John F. Kennedy.
- 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 a Cyanide & Happiness strip, a guy complains to Nixon about the food at the Watergate Hotel:
Nixon: I'm not a cook!
- 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.
- In "Homer's Enemy", 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.
- In the "Treehouse of Horror IV" story "The Devil and Homer Simpson", Nixon is a member of a Jury of the Damned with other infamous celebrities in 1993. 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 "Homer Goes to College", Nixon received an honorary degree from Springfield A&M, the rival school of Springfield University, conferred upon him by A&M's mascot Sir Oinks-A-Lot. When Homer's prank of kidnapping Sir Oinks-A-Lot goes awry, Homer's nerd classmates get expelled at Nixon's behest.
Dean Peterson: I'm sorry, boys, I've — I've never expelled anyone before, but... that pig had some powerful friends.
Nixon: Oh, you'll pay! Don't think you won't pay!
- In "Duffless", Homer takes a tour of the Duff Brewery, and is shown an old Duff commercial from 1960 involving a debate between Nixon and JFK, which takes a break to plug their sponsor, Duff.
JFK: I would like to take this opportunity, er, express my fondness for, er, Duff Beer!(Audience claps and cheers)Nixon: I'd, uh, also like to express my fondness for that particular beer.(Audience grumbles and hisses)Homer: The man never drank a Duff in his life.
- Following Nixon's death, Groening wrote an editorial for The Simpsons, in response to people wondering if the Nixon jokes would stop. In it, Groening non-sarcastically let readers know that Nixon was a bastard, he should've went to jail, and the jokes would not let up one iota.
- In "Scenes From The Class Struggle In Springfield", Mr. Burns recounts golfing with Nixon in 1974. Burns let him win out of pity.
Burns: Oh, he just looked so forlorn Smithers, with his "Ooh I can't go to prison Monty, they'll eat me alive!"
- Nixon's disembodied head features frequently in another Groening series, 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!
- He also makes his debut appearance in the pilot episode with biting newcomer to the millennium Philip J. Fry.
- It's more personal for Nixon's VO Billy West than for Groening, as West was drafted in Vietnam; he also saw the JFK/Nixon debate when he was little (which is where his characterization of Nixon as a "werewolf" comes from; he thought Nixon was turning into one when he saw him with his stubbly beard on TV).
- 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.
- 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!.
- What A Cartoon! Show: In "Gramps", an old man is telling his grandkids about how he once saved the world from an alien invasion. According to his flashback, the President was a beautiful woman who asked him to save the world. When one of the grandkids points out that America never had a female President, she turns into Nixon.
- 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".
- The Bojack Horseman episode "The Shot" focuses on Bojack's efforts to incorporate Secretariat's meeting with Nixon (who tries forcing him to serve in the Vietnam War, then convinces him to send his brother and publicly endorse the President instead) into his biopic, only to have the producers reject it. Bojack and his director break into the Nixon Library to film the scene covertly, with the Library's security guard (who's convinced that he's Nixon's long-lost son) playing the President. The episode also features an anthropomorphized Checkersnote as Nixon's chief of staff, and a portrait of his Vice President, "Spiro Agnewt."
- One of the cursed wax figures in the Gravity Falls episode "Headhunters" is of Nixon. Nixon's portrait also appears in the flashback episode "A Tale of Two Stans." For that matter, Alex Hirsch had previously made a student film featuring Nixon's ghost as a major character.