tal’s streets as we talked. Cool as thencenter seed of a cucumber, he took upnwith me, instead, such concerns asnwhether America might be decadent;nfrom what sources any President mightnobtain support when he must makensome unpopular decision; and the seriousnessnof the environmental problems.nPresently he said, “Dr. Kirk, have wenany hope?” For emphasis, he repeatednthe question: “Have we any hope?”nFeeling rather like Chateaubriandnconsulted by Louis XVIII on the futurenof his regime, I endeavored (unlikenChateaubriand on that occasion)nto encourage the President, pointingnout that periods of decay and of renewalnoften alternate in a nation’s history,nand mentioning at some length thencourse of the Byzantine system. Hopenfeeds on hope, I suggested: it is all anmatter of popular conviction and popularnaction. Mr. Nixon’s spirits appearednto respond: so he always hadnbelieved, he told me. Throughout ourntalk—which had been arranged earlier,non April Fool’s Day — he appearednleisured and unaffected by the massndemonstrations.nThat Friday evening he held a pressnconference; then slept a little; and anlittle after four on the morning of Mayn9, accompanied by Manolo Sanchezn(his valet), drove down to the LincolnnMemorial, where he talked with somensurprised young demonstrators. Henwished to walk back to the WhitenHouse, through Lafayette Park; hisnaides, who had caught up with him,nhad great difficulty in persuading himnto return by car.nAll this makes a strong beginning tonParmet’s book, for it shows RichardnNixon’s courage and his self-possession.nPerhaps he was too self-possessed:nhe had no small talk, he was acutelynaware of his enemies’ power, and henwas not at all sure that anyone wouldnback him up in time of crisis — ansuspicion sufficiently justified by thenbehavior, in the Watergate affair, ofnvarious close subordinates. Throughoutnhis political career, he might havensaid, with Coriolanus, “Alone I did it.”n42/CHRONICLESnProfessor Parmet’s big book—morenthan 750 pages — is a portrait of thenage of Nixon, as well as a biography ofnthe politician whose periods of successnand of defeat alternated so violently asndid the fortunes of the Byzantine Empire.nThe author’s mastery of detail,nfrom 1876 to 1990, is really impressive;nHerbert Parmet knows the literaturenof politics, too. He is the author ofna book about Eisenhower and of twonabout John F. Keiinedy. It would bendifficult to find any biographer of recentnstatesmen more judicious andnpenetrating.nThis book’s account of the Watergatendisaster, the impeachment proceedings,nand the President’s resignationnis surprisingly, but mercifully,nsuccinct — presumably because thosensubjects already have been treated bynothers exhaustively and exhaustingly.nReaders not old enough to recall periodicalnreports of that controversy, or tonhave read the early books about Watergate,nmight do well to turn to SenatornCarl Curtis’ book Forty Years Againstnthe Tide (1986), Chapter XIII, “ThenHarassing of a President.” (Curtis lednthe defense of Mr. Nixon in the Senate.)nShortly after Mr. Nixon’s resignation,nI wrote to him, mentioning JohnnAdams’ remark that in 1800 unpopularitynhad fallen upon him “like thenTower of Siloam. Sic transit glorianmundi.” But Richard Nixon was notnbroken. When questioned about hownNixon had kept sane in the closingnmonths of his presidency, his successor,nGerald Ford, replied with somethingnlike a sob, “He was strong!”nNowadays he is praised for his sagacitynin newspapers that once denouncednhim; his books have influence; thenglory has not wholly departed.nOnce upon a time, before Mr. Nixonnwas elected President, I had annassistant of mine, a handwriting expertnamong other things, analyze a Nixonnholograph. What he found was remarkablyndifferent from the image thatnmost journalists thrust upon the public.nTo judge by his handwriting, Mr. Nixonnwas not conspicuously practical orn”pragmatic.” Rather, he took longnviews, and was earnestly desirous ofnbeing esteemed by posterity. (Resignationnfrom office therefore could notnhave been more painful to any man.)nAlthough conservative by general dis­nnnposition, he was fond of innovatingnreforms: but possessing no high degreenof imagination himself, he sought outnadvisors who were imaginative.nOf such, Henry Kissinger and DanielnPatrick Moynihan were the chief.nThe latter’s resignation late in 1970nwas a blow: Nixon had desired “morenstimulating people to talk to.” As Parmetnobserves, “Nixon would missnMoynihan. ‘Every time we get a littlendown, every time we need a littleninspiration,’ he told the cabinet justnbefore Christmas, ‘we’re going to wantnto call him back to give it to us.'”nStrange though it seems, RichardnNixon still has a future. Parmet concludesnhis perceptive book with thesensentences: “If he were twenty yearsnyounger, cynics would have been quicknto conclude that he was merely planningnanother resurrection. RichardnNixon, whether leading the Orthogoniansn[a Whittier College student society],nthe Republican Party, or .the nation,nwondered what he had to do to bentaken seriously. Such determined absorptionnin vital issues is rare amongnAmerican politicians.”nAmen to that. In his conduct ofnforeign affairs, Nixon will be commendednby the next century’s historians.nBy sealing Haiphong harbor — as,nearly in 1967, he had told me henintended to do—he won the war innVietnam, so disastrously bequeathed tonhim by Lyndon Johnson; but thennCongress lost the war after all, byndeserting South Vietnam during thenWatergate fracas. His domestic policies,nincome-sharing in particular, werenless happy; yet until Watergate henfrustrated the enemies of order innAmerica. And he was an honest publicnman. (At the height of the Watergatenstruggle, when Nixon stood accused ofnsome amorphous corruption, I wrotenin a newspaper column, “Mr. Nixon isnnot a crook”; he repeated my words, tonreporters not much interested in thenfacts.)nAs a well-written and convincingnpicture of an upright but unfortunatenpublic man, and of American life andnpolitics during most of the 20th century.nDr. Parmet’s book on Nixon maynbecome the standard work in its controversialnfield.nRussell Kirk lives in Mecosta,nMichigan.n