American Experience: Nixon
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Richard M. Nixon was one of American history's most powerful figures. Recalling events etched in U.S. memory, this three-hour program explores a fateful mix of strength and weakness that made him president, then brought him down. Events revealing Nixon's distinctive signature in American politics, from a meteoric rise to Congress to the presidency and the morass of Watergate, unfold in three parts: The Quest, Triumph, and The Fall.
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It gives a pretty accurate account of our 37th president who would go on to become the only president in our history to resign from office. Richard Nixon was a very complexed man who like any man had his strengths and weaknesses and who ultimately let his weaknesses bring him down. The details of those strengths and weaknesses are covered here in a fairly detailed look at the life of Nixon. Three hours in length the documentary is divided into three parts. Part 1 looks at Nixon's life from boyhood through collage and military service to his decision to enter into politics. It is during this time you start to get an insight into the political thinking of Nixon. Using smear tactics he would paint his opponents as he moved up in California politics as being communist sympathizers while he stood for freedom and American justice. It would in time help move him up to the U.S. Senate and onto the national political scene but it would also lead to him being call "Tricky Dick", a nickname that would follow him for the rest of his life. The first part goes on to cover his eight years as vice-president under President Eisenhower and then his bid for the presidency in 1960 when he would face John Kennedy and lose one of the closest elections ever. The first part ends with Nixon's bid two years later in 1962 to win the governorship of California only to once again lose and it appearing Nixon's career in politics is over.
Part two shows Nixon as he begins to rebuild his image and showing a different side to his personality to try to appeal to the public. With the country becoming less confident in its government with the economy in bad shape and no end in sight to the Vietnam war Nixon felt in 1968 the time was right for him to once again try to win the Presidency. This time he would succeed. The rest of part two looks at Nixon's first term up to 1972 as he started thinking about re-election.
The third and final part looks at Nixon's second term and how every thing he tried to accomplish would become overshadowed by the scandal known as Watergate. While Nixon neither approved of or even knew about the planned burglary of the Democratic National headquarters his downfall would happen 6 days later when he was informed of what happened. Instead of investigating and firing those responsible for the break in he started figuring out how to cover up what had occurred. From there part three looks at the downward spiral the government and the American public had in Nixon as the Watergate scandal dragged on with Nixon and his people trying to obstruct the investigation. It would eventually lead to Nixon's resignation which is where the documentary ends. The third part is probably the least interesting to me but only because I remember the events still quite well of Watergate and what had occurred. This part though is very well covered and accurate in detail. For someone who was too young to remember or had not been born yet this section will give you an excellant understanding of what happened and how.
This is a very well made film that anyone who remember Richard Nixon, whether you liked him or not, will find interesting to watch. If you are a history nerd like me it will be interesting to view. But even if history is not your thing this documentary still makes for an interesting study into the human ego and psychy. This is an interesting documentary to watch.
For example, how might it affect you, if you were admitted to Harvard and Yale, but your family needed you to work at home, so you had to go to the local college instead? And if two of your brothers died when you were a boy?
RN's early life is full of these influential events.
I wish the program had spent more time exploring RN's early life, instead of rehashing the same old Watergate material.