The Weird “Before The Speech” Of Nixon’s Resignation.
Richard Nixon resigned from office 40 years ago. On August 8, 1974 He became the first President to resign. I did quite the write up on that a few days ago.
What I didn’t include was the bizarre 6 minutes that happened–and was caught on tape–before Nixon’s speech. The New Yorker magazine had this review.
Many Americans remember the telecast during which Richard Nixon announced his resignation from the Presidency, forty years ago today, as a dark moment in the nation’s history. Watching the Leader of the Free World crumple in disgrace induced a mordant glee in certain quarters, but it was still a grim spectacle. The comedian Harry Shearer has another word for the events of that night: “goofy.”
When you watch the actual footage from that evening, recorded by one of the TV cameras in the room, Nixon’s swaggering tone-deafness will make you squirm. The recording of the minutes before the resignation is one that Shearer has always found confounding. It is so clear that the camera crew is unmoved by Nixon’s small talk. “If you were a comic, you’d stop after two of your jokes bombed like that, but he just keeps going,” Shearer said. “For years, I was puzzled by that behavior. Why didn’t he just sit quietly until the time came to deliver the speech? What was going on there?” The answer that finally came to him, as he rehearsed the scene, is that Nixon already had an eye on rehabilitating his reputation. “Those people in that room were going to go out and say, ‘He wasn’t depressed, he wasn’t angry. My god! He was the nicest guy in the world.’ I think that’s exactly who he was. That’s how he got out of his depression, on fight. And the fight starts here.”
Here is that footage. He was a fascinating extremely odd character Nixon was.