Following a series of scandals that devastated a vulnerable nation along with the ambitions of a less-than saintly presidential administration, Richard Nixon said sayonara to the Oval Office on August 9, 1974.
Straight from the pages of future President George H.W. Bush’s journal:
“There is no way to really describe the emotion of the day. Bar [Bush’s wife, Barbara] and I went down and had breakfast at the White House. Dean and Pat Burch and the Buchanans were there in the Conference Mess. There was an aura of sadness, like somebody died. Grief. Saw Tricia and Eddie Cox [President Nixon’s daughter and her husband] in the Rose Garden – talked to them on the way to the ceremony.
President Nixon looked just awful. He used glasses – the first time I ever saw them. Close to breaking down – understandably. Everyone in the room in tears.
The speech was vintage Nixon – a kick or two at the press – enormous strains. One couldn’t help but look at the family and the whole thing and think of his accomplishments and then think of the shame and wonder kind of man is this really. No morality – kicking his friends in those tapes – all of them. Gratuitous abuse. Caring for no one yet doing so much. When he used the word ‘plumbers’ [in his speech] meaning it [as] ‘laboring with his hands’, the connotation was a shock to me.”