Character Above All: Ten presidents from FDR to George Bush

Wilson, Robert A., ed., Tom Wicker, “Richard M. Nixon"

Simon & Schuster, 1995

pp. 135 - 139

p. 135 He came from economically low status in Whittier, CA: he hated waiting on customers in his father’s grocery store and felt embarrassed by his loud, cantankerous, and impecunious dad. He made ‘”near-suicidal attempts” to make the Whittier College football team and failed. He couldn’t get dates: girls found him awkward and unglamorous. He worked his way through Duke Law School but was rejected by big New York law firms to which he applied on graduation, finally accepting a position in a small Whittier firm. “He was an introvert in a sphere of extroverts, a have-not among haves. And he showed it–nervousness, perspiration, dancing by the numbers, gestures always a little contrived and out of synch. A decade after he resigned the presidency, he told Ken Clawson: ‘What starts the process really are laughs and slights and snubs when you are a kid . . . . But if you are reasonably intelligent and if your anger is deep enough and strong enough you learn that you can change those attitudes by excellence, personal gut performance, while those who have everything are sitting on their fat butts.’ P. 138: He was betrayed early on by somebody and never trusted after that. He sowed mistrust and reaped it. P. 139 “Solitude was Richard Nixon’s chosen environment, his reward in victory, his solace in defeat. He often made secrecy the natural extension of his solitude, confiding in few, taking counsel of few, trusting even fewer. He had no true friends. Nobody to trust. Nobody to pour himself out to.”