That’s without even considering the effect the Nixon experience had on some of the shimmery youth drawn into the presidential circle by duty and idealism, often against the ardent advice of friends and mentors whose distrust of Nixon dated to his Red-baiting and treacly “Checkers” speech that salvaged his position on the Republicans’ 1952 national ticket. “The qualities that kept some from joining Nixon’s administration became more visible, particularly after the revelation of the tapes, which showed both dishonesty and how the bile of resentment was corroding his best intentions and closing down his ability to realize his promise,” one of them, John Price, a Rhodes Scholar who succeeded Daniel Patrick Moynihan as special assistant for urban affairs and later headed the Federal Home Loan Bank of Pittsburgh, told me. “Those still in place as his presidency collapsed were caught in the trap of a vicious survival fight and the collapse of their hopes to leave positive and lasting changes in government.” During Senate Watergate Committee hearings, Gordon Strachan, a Nixon aide, was asked what he might say to young people contemplating public service. “My advice,” he replied, “would be to stay away.” Nixon took the “credibility gap” created by Lyndon Johnson and rendered it enduring.
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