Expletive deleted: the words of a phrasemaker

NO AMERICAN political career this century - perhaps no politician anywhere - has seen the triumphs and disasters that have attended Richard Milhous Nixon. During the greatest of those disasters, Watergate, his biographer, Stephen Ambrose, wrote that Nixon was 'heroic, admirable and inspiring, while simultaneously being dishonour- able, despicable, and a horrible example'.

As President, Nixon was arrogant yet excruciatingly shy, incapable of small talk. But he was a phrasemaker. Some he intended, others he did not. This brief selection helps capture the complexity of the man:

If the American people understood the real character of Alger Hiss, they would boil him in oil. - 17 November 1948, as California Congressman Richard Nixon was first making a national name by leading the House committee that investigated Hiss, a former State Department official and alleged Communist.

Pat (Nixon) doesn't have a mink coat. But she does have a respectable Republican cloth coat. And I always tell her that she'd look good in anything . . . Regardless of what happens, I will continue this fight to drive the crooks and the Communists and those who defend them out of Washington. - 23 September 1952, from the celebrated 'Checkers' speech. Nixon's mawkish but partisan television appearance saved his No 2 spot on the Republican presidental ticket behind Dwight Eisenhower, after allegations that he was profiting from a secret slush fund.

Courage - or putting it more accurately, lack of fear - is a result of discipline. By an act of will, a man refuses to think of the reasons for fear, and so concentrates entirely on winning the battle. - From Six Crises, written after his defeat by John Kennedy in the 1960 Presidental election.

This is my last press conference . . . You won't have Nixon to kick around any more. - 6 November 1962, to reporters, after he had been defeated by Pat Brown for the Governorship of California.

If a vocal minority, however fervent its cause, prevails over reason, this nation has no future as a free society . . . And so tonight to you the great silent majority of my fellow Americans, I ask for your support. - 3 November 1969, as President, attacking opponents of the Vietnam war, who were staging huge demonstrations that autumn.

North Vietnam cannot defeat or humiliate the United States. Only Americans can do that - In a 1969 speech.

If, when the chips are down, the world's most powerful nation . . . acts like a pitiful, helpless giant, the forces of totalitarianism and anarchy will threaten free nations and free institutions throughout the world. - His 1970 TV speech announcing the US strike into Cambodia.

Nixon said he had achieved 'Peace with honour: not surrender, not begging.' He talked of the 'historic year of 1972', in which he had given the world 'a chance for peace for a generation' - 29 October 1972, in a briefing for his surrogate speakers.

There will be no whitewash at the White House - 17 April 1973, on Watergate.

I want you all to stonewall it. - 1973 presidential transcript on Watergate.

(Expletive deleted) of course I am not dumb and I will never forget when I heard about this (adjective deleted) forced entry and bugging. I thought: what in hell is all this? What is the matter with these people? Are they crazy? I thought they were nuts] A prank] But it wasn't] It wasn't very funny. I think our Democratic friends know that too. They know what hell it was. They don't think we'd be involved in such. - 28 February 1973, while talking about the break-in at Watergate.

I welcome this kind of examination, because people have got to know whether or not their President is a crook. Well, I am not a crook. - 18 November 1973 to newspaper editors, defending himself against charges that he had evaded income taxes by taking unlawful deductions for his vice-Presidential papers. The row was a spin-off of the Watergate scandal.

The easy way is the status quo. The other way is the right way. It is a way which recognises that continuous war in this area is not a solution for Israel's survival and, above all, it is not right. - 17 June 1974, to the Knesset, urging Israel make peace with its Arab neighbours on his penultimate foreign trip before leaving office.

Always give your best, never get discouraged, never be petty. Always remember, others may hate you, but those who hate you don't win unless you hate them, and then you destroy yourself. - 9 August 1974, at a valedictory meeting with his White House staff three hours before formally resigning the Presidency.

I screwed up on on Watergate and I paid the price. Mea culpa. But let's get on to my achievements. You'll be here in the year 2000 and we'll see how I'm regarded then. - 30 November 1978, to the Oxford Union, during a trip to Britain and France that marked his return to the international scene.

Without large-scale outside aid, Russia may turn to a new despotism, which could be a far more dangerous threat to peace and freedom than the old Soviet totalitarianism. 11 March 1992, at a Washington conference urging more generous American support for Boris Yeltsin. His remarks produced a change in Bush Administration policy almost overnight.

(Photograph omitted)

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Sheridan Maine: Accounts Assistant

£25,000 - £30,000: Sheridan Maine: Are you looking for a fantastic opportunity...

Neil Pavier: Commercial Analyst

£50,000 - £55,000: Neil Pavier: Are you a professionally qualified commercial ...

Loren Hughes: Financial Accountant

£45,000 - £55,000: Loren Hughes: Are you looking for a new opportunity that wi...

Ashdown Group: IT Support Engineer - Professional Services Firm - Oxford

£21000 - £24000 per annum + 21 days holidays: Ashdown Group: Technical Support...

Day In a Page

No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor