by Sherard Cowper-Coles
Just as they say that the poor are always with is, so it is with
The book reviews how Eisenhower sent Nixon off on high-profile trips abroad, the highlights of which were that famously publicized "kitchen debate" in Moscow with Soviet Premier
But the account also underscores that Eisenhower had early doubts about Nixon's maturity for the presidency and how in his fashion he tried to ease him off the Republican ticket in 1956. Nixon's gritty determination not to be pushed aside finally won out. Also related is the thin familial bond forged by the courtship and marriage of Ike's grandson David and Dick's younger daughter Julie that never quite solidified. Nixon later made known that in all those
Eight years after the Ike and Dick tenure ended, Nixon re-entered the
That inner circle was dominated by "the Germans,"
In the process, Agnew made himself the darling of conservative Republicans, who never really warmed to Nixon. However, Agnew became such an irritant to the inner circle -- Ehrlichman once complained that he "couldn't be programmed to leave a burning building" -- that the trio soon was plotting to dump him from the
In several conversations caught on the
For a time, as the Watergate affair threatened to imperil the Nixon presidency itself, Nixon articulated on the tapes that Agnew's continued presence as vice president was providing "an insurance policy" against Congressional action to impeach and remove the president himself. As Nixon put it, "No assassin in his right mind would kill me. They know if they did they would wind up with Agnew!"
The problem was soon resolved with the revelation that Agnew as Baltimore County Executive and then as governor took bribes from Maryland contractors for his help in getting state business, and he was forced to resign. A final irony in the whole business was that Nixon himself wound up suffering the same fate as Agnew when his role in the Watergate cover-up was revealed.
What Frank calls "the strange political marriage" of Ike and Dick really paled in comparison to the later one between Dick and Ted. Nixon had the unusual circumstance of playing both roles in the drama, and in the end could not escape the detrimental judgment of history.
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Book Review: Dick, Ike and Ted