A Third-Rate Burglary: No Watergate POD: Security guard Frank Wills never sees the tape on the doors of the Democratic National Committee headquarters at the Watergate complex. President Richard Nixon, 1969-1977 Richard Nixon is, and may always be, the most controversial of American presidents. He is the Cold Warrior who went to China, the staunch conservative who instituted price controls, established the EPA, and pressed for universal health care. He came into office at a time of great racial strife in America, and could say that he left the country better than he found it. (What the civil-rights movement would say of Nixon’s record is another matter.) His record is not spotless, especially in his troubled second term. Vice-President Spiro Agnew resigned in 1973 and was replaced by Gerald Ford, after being tainted by allegations of corruption in his previous office as Governor of Maryland. (Corruption charges would dog many of Nixon’s staffers after he left office, as well.) He had entered the White House promising to end the Vietnam War, to bring America “peace with honor.” The grim footage of the fall of Saigon in 1975, a few short years after American withdrawal, gave the lie to that promise. His Comprehensive Health Insurance bill floundered in the Senate, where Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts killed it for being too timid for his tastes. And he confounded many of his conservative friends by lending support to New York City, that bastion of godless liberalism, during its bankruptcy crisis in 1975. Beginning in 1974, inflation began to run rampant, defying the economists’ maxim that recessions were necessarily deflationary in nature. And it is of course during his term that America’s conflict with OPEC began, following the US’s strong support for Israel during the Yom Kippur War. Luckily for Nixon he would be out of the White House by the time this “war” reached its climax. Few American Presidents have reached such heights and such lows, and have so curiously straddled the liberal-conservative divide. Historians will debate his legacy into the 21st century, and it is unlikely that they will find a consensus any time soon. As American’s bicentennial year of 1976 began to draw to a close, all anybody could say for sure was that they finally didn’t have Dick Nixon to kick around anymore.