Published in January 2016 issue of Prospect Magazine
American liberals disliked Richard Nixon long before Watergate. In the 1950s, they associated the then-Vice President with McCarthyism and assumed that President Dwight Eisenhower put him on his ticket only to appease the Republican right. When Nixon himself ran for the White House in 1960, Eisenhower was asked by the press if he could name a single idea of the Vice President’s that he had put into effect. He replied: “Give me a week and I’ll think of one.”
These words haunted Nixon and helped define what many assumed was the nature of his relationship with his former boss. Irwin F Gellman puts the record straight in this compelling book. He produces ample evidence of the President praising his partner’s abilities and convinces the reader that Nixon was an admired Cold War diplomat in his own right.
Tricky Dicky was often his party’s conscience on civil rights, too—and by exploring this, Gellman also helps fill in some gaps in Eisenhower’s record. He draws a picture of an administration that was neither lazy nor disengaged, but which desegregated the capital and built the interstate highways. Above all, Eisenhower was a fair man who stood by his Vice President even during the negative publicity because he admired him and understood his value as a Republican partisan. Unfortunately, this partisanship would forever label Nixon as a hatchet man—an image confirmed by the inept Watergate burglary that ended his presidency in shame.