Weird History Nixon Was A Pathetic Drunk Mess In The Days Before His Resignation  

Melissa Sartore
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Richard Milhous Nixon's presidency was full of excitement, intrigue, grievously bad judgment, and booze – which is why so many drunk Richard Nixon stories have lived on long past the man. Tales about the end of his tenure as president are no different.

In the wake of Watergate – as his removal from the Oval Office became imminent in the late summer of 1974 – it was clear to Nixon that he had to do the unthinkable. He had to resign. As he slowly accepted his fate, he turned increasingly inward, brooded, drank, swore, and took out his frustrations in alarming ways. Nixon didn't handle his liquor well, and with the end of his presidency in sight, Watergate, depression, and scotch got the better of him as his time in office drew to a close.

Aides Would Often Find Nixon Drunk And Playing Music From His Favorite 1950s Documentary


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Photo:  National Broadcasting Company, with the cooperation of the United States Navy./Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 3.0

Nixon loved to get drunk and play the music from Victory at Sea, a 26-part documentary about World War II naval combat that was made in the 1950s. Nixon wasn't alone in enjoying the score from the series. The music, recorded by the NBC Symphony Orchestra, was critically acclaimed, as was the entire run of the series.

When Nixon wasn't listening to Victory at Sea, he was busy listening to himself. Nixon was known to replay the tapes recorded in the Oval Office over and over again, especially the parts that were being used against him as his presidency crumbled.

Members Of The Government Considered Invoking The 25th Amendment


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Photo:  Oliver F. Atkins (1917-1977), official White House photographer/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 3.0

The 25th Amendment, which was going to be used if and when Nixon resigned anyway, allows for the President to be replaced by the Vice President "in case of the removal of the President from office or of his death or resignation, the Vice President shall become President...[if the] President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office."

Because Nixon's behavior was so erratic, advisors and members of Congress were concerned that they couldn't wait for Nixon to resign and might have to replace him with Vice President Gerald Ford because he had become unfit for office. 

Some People Thought Nixon Would Use The Military To Barricade Himself Into The White House


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Photo:  Marion S. Trikosko or Thomas J. O'Halloran, photographer/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 3.0

As Commander-In-Chief, Nixon had the military at his disposal. Nixon knew it, his advisors knew it, and the nation knew it. With Nixon in denial up until the end, there was concern that he would call out the military and refuse to leave the White House. It's even reported that then-Secretary of Defense James Schlesinger was so concerned that Nixon might exercise his Commander-In-Chief powers that he concocted military strategies for countering armed Marines if they were assembled by the President.

Instead, Nixon chose to hide in his office in the Executive Building across the street from the White House or in the Oval Office, drinking and brooding over where it all went wrong. 

The Military Stopped Taking Orders From Nixon


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Photo:  Robert L. Knudsen/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 3.0

As Nixon's behavior became more and more of a concern, Defense Secretary James Schlesinger ordered the Joint Chiefs of Staff to run anything that Nixon ordered by him before carrying it out. He also made a plan for what to do in case Nixon would not leave the White House willingly. Gerald Ford later fired him for such an accusation and preparation.