Four More Years - The Presidency of Richard M. Nixon

Four More Years - The Presidency of Richard Nixon


“It would be unwise of me to comment on the criminal charges or the settlement, but I will say that Mr. Agnew has served the country with distinction over the last five years. His actions were disappointing, of course, but that does not invalidate his achievements as Vice-President.”

“Mr. President, can you tell us if any decision has been reached regarding the Vice-Presidency?”

“I’m afraid I’m unable to answer that at this point. I am of course consulting with the leadership of my party, and there are a wealth of suitable candidates, be they Congressmen, Senators, Governors, current and former, or from elsewhere. It is of course very important that we have a new Vice-President in place as soon as possible, so I will urge the Congress to ensure a speedy confirmation. I hope to make an announcement shortly.”

Presidential press conference, October 10th 1973

The President’s first choice was former Treasury Secretary John Connally, but he knew that Connally would never be confirmed by the Democratic Congress. With the decision to seek a third term already made, Nixon decided to wait until 1976 to create his dream ticket with Connally, to create a new centrist movement to unite Republicans and conservative Democrats. Therefore the President would have to select someone who would be happy not to serve beyond the end of the term, and also would have no desire to oppose Connally for the Presidency in 1980.

The press had speculated that likely candidates were former California Governor Ronald Reagan, Senators Richard Schweiker of Pennsylvania, Howard Baker of Tennessee and Bob Dole of Kansas, and New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller. The Administration’s list had Senators Hugh Scott of Pennsylvania and Carl Curtis of Nebraska, as well as House Minority Leader Gerald Ford. Hawaii Senator Hiram Fong was also briefly considered, but it was felt the selection of him would be seen as symbolism for symbolism’s sake.

After consultation with Republican leadership over the course of a few days, it was decided that Ford was the best candidate. The Minority Leader was open to the prospect after a Saturday evening phone call from the President, and after talking it over with his wife, Ford informed the President that he would happily be his candidate. He also made clear that he had no presidential ambitions, and saw the Vice-Presidency as a suitable way to end his political career.

Richard Milhous Nixon - The Invincible Quest, by Conrad Black

“When making my choice for Vice-President, I quickly determined that the chosen candidate had to pass three criteria. The candidate had to have suitable experience, support the policies of this administration, and thirdly, they had to be a man of upstanding moral character. The candidate I have selected has all of these qualities in abundance, and it is a great honour for me to have him as my Vice-President. I know that if he had to assume the duties of this office, he would lead this country with honour, distinction and dignity. Ladies and gentlemen, it is my honour and privilege to present to you the next Vice-President of these United States, Gerald Rudolph Ford.”

President Nixon’s address announcing his Vice-Presidential pick, October 12th 1973


President Nixon and Representative Gerald Ford with their wives just after Nixon announced Ford as his Vice-Presidential pick

“I knew Gerald well, of course, and while we disagreed on many issues, I had, and indeed have the utmost respect for him. He was a true gentleman, always courteous to his colleagues on both sides of the aisle, and I thought he was perfect for the Vice-Presidency. It was a fitting end to his political life.”

Former Speaker of the House Carl Albert, interviewed in 1988

The confirmation for Ford was speedy, with the Senate voting 92 to 3 to confirm him on November 27th, and the House of Representatives following suit on December 6th, 387 to 35. Just a few days later, President Nixon announced that he would adding another face to his administration. Henry Kissinger would be relinquishing his role as National Security Advisor, and the role would be taken up by former Treasury Secretary John Connally. Kissinger was far from happy with the decision, and felt that the President was supplanting his authority. In a bitter rant to his deputy Al Haig, Kissinger talked of resigning, and predicted that the President would try to run foreign policy through Connally’s office rather than his own.

Privately, Nixon admitted to his closest aides that the decision was made in order to better prepare Connally for the Vice-Presidency. On December 8th he told Haldeman that “the right will look for any goddamn excuse to keep John off the ticket. He needs foreign policy experience. If Henry doesn’t like it, he can goddamn well resign.”

The President was already thinking about the 1976 election, and particularly the race for the Democratic nomination. “They’ve got nobody, not one person who can win. They’re too busy squabbling amongst themselves. Kennedy will throw his hat in, I’ve no doubt about it, but he can’t win the election. Chappaquiddick ruined him. If he runs, I’ll kick his ass.”

The Yells of the Silent Majority: The Presidency of Richard Nixon, by Frank Thomas

In the New Year the President flew to the Middle East in an attempt to end the oil embargo. Accompanied by Kissinger, he visited Israel and Saudi Arabia. At first it appeared that the meetings with King Faisal and Prime Minister Golda Meir had failed to force a breakthrough, but only hours after Nixon arrived back in Washington, Israel announced a withdrawal from the Suez Canal. A meeting of the OPEC nations the following week resulted in the lifting of the embargo.

A delighted Nixon addressed the nation from the Oval Office that evening. In addition to announcing, “with great pleasure, that the energy crisis which has engulfed our nation is finally over”. He also warned that the United States could never again be at the mercy of other nations. Nixon told the nation that in order to ensure that such a crisis would never happen again, he was going to ask the Congress to create a new cabinet department, the Department of Energy. This new department would be charged with ending the United States’ dependency on foreign oil.

President Nixon - Alone In The White House, by Richard Reeves


President Nixon moments after his address announcing the creation of the Department of Energy
I guess more on the TL is coming, and that Watergate ended with an open disclosure/no tapes being made/destroyed. It would have been increasingly difficult for Nixon to be an effective president, though he would have helped out South Vietnam more than Ford. He had 2 months with the war powers act to help them out. Perhaps a rump state in the delta area?

And does Nixon give up Keynesian economics? A tax break for the rich would have been suicide in PR and would not have been passed unless some other issue comes up to even the tilted playing field.
Good start. One question; with all this talk of John Connally for the '76 race, RN is talking about he, as President until that point, engineering that ticket right? Knowing he can't run in '76?

Apparently there's no 22nd Amendment, as there's a reference in there to a third term.

I'm wondering here how Nixon got out from under all his issues. While events surrounding the Watergate break-in and cover-up constituted the major scandal, there were a number of other things that went on that had nothing to do with the Watergate break-in; e.g. the ITT/Dita Beard scandal, the break-in at Ellsberg's psychiatrist, the plot to firebomb the Brookings Institution, financial irregularities at CREEP, etc. that, standing alone, were worthy of being major scandals in their own right.
I suppose that since there is no 22nd Amendment, we are assuming that Republicans could not talk Ike into seeking a third term, and Nixon lost to Kennedy in 1960.
There is indeed no 22nd Amendment in this timeline. Basically, it's all about the Nixon presidency continuing beyond 1976. Watergate has been butterflied away.

Next update should hopefully be coming tonight.

P.S. I'd appreciate any suggestions for the first Secretary of Energy.
There is indeed no 22nd Amendment in this timeline. Basically, it's all about the Nixon presidency continuing beyond 1976. Watergate has been butterflied away.

Next update should hopefully be coming tonight.

P.S. I'd appreciate any suggestions for the first Secretary of Energy.

Why not Carter's SOE James Schlesinger. A Republican, he served as SecDef under Nixon and Ford OTL and was head of CIA under Nixon.
I could see people disappointed Nixon was running and not Ike lead to a slightly easier Kennedy victory.

I don't think that Kennedy will win more easily, but he would still win. Presumably, this timeline has no bearing on Dallas either.
Why not Carter's SOE James Schlesinger. A Republican, he served as SecDef under Nixon and Ford OTL and was head of CIA under Nixon.

Problem is Schlesinger is already in the Administration as Secretary of Defense. Ideally, I'd like the person to be a Democrat, perhaps a conservative one. Would tie in well with the progression of the timeline.

And yes, Ike declined to run in 1960. Essentially, things proceeded as OTL until 1973 (aside from the 22nd Amendment no passing). Watergate did not occur, or at least was never linked to the White House in any way.
Problem is Schlesinger is already in the Administration as Secretary of Defense. Ideally, I'd like the person to be a Democrat, perhaps a conservative one. Would tie in well with the progression of the timeline.

And yes, Ike declined to run in 1960. Essentially, things proceeded as OTL until 1973 (aside from the 22nd Amendment no passing). Watergate did not occur, or at least was never linked to the White House in any way.

How about Henry "Scoop" Jackson?
The President was called in the early hours of the morning on January 18th by Secretary of State Kissinger, who informed him that South Vietnamese President Thieu had announced the ceasefire in Vietnam was over. Few had expected the Paris Peace Accords to hold, but it was not anticipated that the ceasefire would break so early.

Nixon was furious. In an expletive-filled rant to Kissinger, he blamed “that dumb bastard Thieu” for “kicking up a shitstorm” and also the United States Congress for overriding his veto of the War Powers Act, which prevented him sending in military assistance. The Congress, he said, “had tied me down this way just so they could screw me…those goddamn sons-of-bitches”.

A short statement released by the White House the next morning was much more refined. The statement made clear that while the administration was “disappointed” with the renewed hostilities, there was still a commitment to a “peaceful, free and democratic South Vietnam”, and that the White House would assist in any way it could short of committing ground forces.

Recently declassified files have suggested that the President briefly considered some sort of covert operation to assassinate North Vietnamese President Ton Duc Thang, but the plan was quickly and quietly deemed unworkable. In a 2008 interview, Kissinger suggested that he paid lip service to the plan to appease the President, who in truth was never 100% serious about such an assassination.

The Yells of the Silent Majority: The Presidency of Richard Nixon, by Frank Thomas

“The fundamentals of our economy are strong. We have strength at home, and strength abroad. We have brought peace to both our streets and to the streets of nations around the globe. For the first time in twelve years, a President can announce that we are at peace with every nation of the world…

…Never again will be allow ourselves to be dragged into wars that have no definable goals and no end in sight, nor will we engage in proxy wars with our geopolitical rivals. While we remain committed to our ideals of freedom for all the peoples of the world, we are no longer on the brink of destructive conflict with the Soviet Union. Secretary Brezhnev and I have our differences, but for the first time in thirty years, the citizens of our nations can go to sleep at night without the fear of dropping bombs or rolling tanks…

…Let me conclude by saying this; a house divided cannot stand. We must not allow ourselves to slip back into division, particularly in our politics. All of us, be we Democrat, Republican, Independent or otherwise, can work together. Our country is strong, but it can always be stronger. We will always be stronger when we work together. Over the coming months and years, I urge all of you to work with me, regardless of political affiliation, for the good of the people of this great citizens. The work goes on, and the cause endures, because the American Dream is never-ending.”

State of the Union Address, January 27th, 1974


President Nixon giving his 1974 State of the Union

On April 8th, 1974, the Department of Energy Creation Act was passed comfortably in both Houses of Congress. The President now had the opportunity to select the first ever Secretary of Energy, who would be responsible both for environmental issues and the pursuit of energy independence. With one eye on the 1976 election, Nixon had decided to select a Democrat for the position, one who agreed with him on energy issues.

The initial candidate that the President had decided upon was, surprisingly, 1968 Democratic Vice-Presidential nominee Edmund Muskie. The Maine Senator received a phone call from the President on the evening of April 8th, where it was suggested that he should accept the post as a way to unite the country. Nixon pointed out that he and Muskie by-and-large agreed on the issues the Senator would deal with as Secretary of Energy.

Muskie’s response was not what the President had been hoping for. He said that while he wasn’t going to run for re-election in 1976, it would be unwise for him to join the administration, as he had already made the decision to run for the Democratic Presidential nomination.

Nixon was taken aback. He had assumed that Muskie’s national career was over after the “snowflakes” debacle of the 1972 campaign. Regaining his composure, the President offered Muskie his best wishes for the primaries, and asked him not to disclose the details of their conversation to anyone, a request with which Muskie complied until after Nixon’s death.

The second choice was another Democrat, this time from the private sector. Joseph A. Califano Jr. had previously served in both the Kennedy and Johnson administrations in a variety of posts, most notably as Special Assistant to the President from 1965-1969. He was a key component of President Johnson’s domestic team, referred to by the New York Times as “The Deputy President for Domestic Affairs”. Since Nixon’s inauguration Califano had been working for various Washington law firms and as a general counsel to the DNC.

Califano’s acceptance of the post was a surprise to many, but he had been eager to return to public life, and taking over the brand new department seemed an ideal way to cement his legacy as an effective politician. His confirmation went through swiftly, and Califano made a good impression in his initial press conference with the President.

Four More Years - The Second Term of Richard Nixon, by Vincent Theroux


James A. Califano Jr., the 1st Secretary of Energy of the United States

The Nixon Cabinet, 1974 (includes Cabinet-level appointments)

Vice-President: Gerald Ford
Secretary of State: Henry Kissinger
Secretary of the Treasury: George Shultz
Secretary of Defense: James Schlesinger
Attorney General: Elliot Richardson
Secretary of the Interior: Rogers Morton
Secretary of Agriculture: Earl Butz
Secretary of Commerce: Frederick Dent
Secretary of Labor: Peter Brennan
Secretary of Health, Education & Welfare: Caspar Weinberger
Secretary of Housing & Urban Development: James Thomas Lynn
Secretary of Transportation: Claude Brinegar
Secretary of Energy: Joseph Califano
National Security Advisor: John Connally
Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency: Russell E. Train
Trade Representative: William D. Eberle
Ambassador to the United Nations: John Scali
Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisors: Herbert Stein
Director of the Office of Management & Budget: Roy Ash
White House Chief of Staff: H.R. Haldeman

“The left’s going to go crazy, thinking this is another win for democracy. They haven’t got a goddamn clue. Tomas and Caetano kept the communists at bay, and they kept the colonies from Soviet influence. The whole thing’s going to go to hell in a hand basket, and there’s not a goddamn thing we can do about it. If it comes to it, I’ll sent troops into Angola and Mozambique. The Democrats will complain, but they won’t do anything. They need to look tough on foreign policy with the midterms coming up.”

President Nixon’s private reaction to the Carnation Revolution in Portugal, April 1974

In June 1974 the White House announced that the President would be making a four-day visit to the Soviet Union in September, where he would press Secretary Brezhnev to bring SALT II to an agreement as soon as possible. While he received some criticism from the fringe of his party, Nixon was widely applauded for continuing the cause of détente.

The summit itself was a largely frustrating affair for the Nixon administration. Brezhnev seemed unwilling to move any further in talks, and reportedly fell asleep during one of the meetings. While both countries’ leadership attempted to put a positive spin on the summit, there were no concrete developments out of it. Despite this failure, President Nixon received an approval rating boost from the summit, bringing him to the highest point of the year: 68%.

Wikipedia entry on “Détente”


President Nixon and Secretary Brezhnev at a Moscow reception, September 11th 1974

With the midterm elections approaching, I realised I had to make an effort to campaign for other Democratic candidates. As yet I had not made a decision about whether to run for the President in 1976 or not, but if I decided to I would need to be seen as a leader of the Democratic party, and I could also build a national political base. My guess was that the Republican candidate would be Ronald Reagan or perhaps Bob Dole, but I also knew that an attempt at a third term by President Nixon could not be ruled out.

I spent the best part of the autumn campaigning across the country for various candidates, be it for the House, Senate or governors’ mansions. I worked extremely hard, and admittedly I somewhat neglected my Senate duties. Meanwhile, President Nixon was doing the same for his candidates. Some saw it as a preview of what the Washington Post called “Nixon/Kennedy Round II”. I watched the results with interest, but I was disappointed…

…Many commentators immediately began suggesting that I was seen as too liberal and too linked to the Eastern Establishment to be a real national political force. I was determined to prove them wrong, but I admit the reports hurt me. I began to reconsider my approach…

True Compass, by Edward Kennedy


Senator Ted Kennedy on the stump, 1974

U.S. Midterm Elections, 1974

Democrats: 220 (-33)
Republicans: 215 (+33)

Democrats: 53 (-4)
Republicans: 45 (+4)
Others: 2 (no change)


Time Magazine reacts to Republican midterms gains, November 1974
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