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President and Secretary of State

Even as individual personalities and public figures, Nixon and Kissinger made a striking contrast:

Their personalities are different, and both men are undoubtedly relieved that this is so widely recognized. Kissinger is warm, friendly, sensitive; Nixon's aloofness can never be mistaken. Kissinger can be a connoisseur of nuance, with a talent for subtle explanations, and, when necessary, for elegant doubletalk; Nixon specializes in the hard hyperbole, the sentence painted in black and white (Kalb and Kalb, 1974, p. 7).

Remarkably enough for this subtlest of diplomats, Kissinger succeeded in becoming a popular figure even on the Washington party circuit, where he was seen with a succession of attractive women. More consequentially, he won the confidence of the press, at a time when it was deeply suspicious of anything or anyone associated with Nixon. But perhaps, we may suggest, these social skills were integral to Kissinger's success. He understood, as Nixon perhaps never did, that one cannot succeed in being subtle when one is viewed as sinister.

Remarkably for a successful politician, Richard Nixon was never personally popular. He was admired rather than loved by his supporters, but he was passionately hated by his opponents. These emotions go back to his earliest political campaigns, after World War Two, when Nixon was a pioneering figure in the modern Republican Right. "From Nixon's early campaigns, he developed the reputation as a hard-hitting, slashing campaigner. His attack style and 'go for the jugular' approach became a Nixon trademark (Genovese, 1990, p. 2).

Yet he was capable of winning if not love, then support. Nixon had an extraordinary understanding of how to push political "buttons." In 1952, threatened with dismissal from the Republican ticket for accepting questionable gifts, he made a speech that referred to one gift he had received, a dog named Checkers. "While critics considered the Checkers ...

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President and Secretary of State. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 18:29, July 20, 2017, from
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