by STEVE SMITH
his past year was tull of major news for most Americans. The two most pressing events were Nixon's fall from the presidency and the growing concern over money, inflation, recession and a possible depression in the making.
Americans were also confronted with events of an international flavor the transfer of the tremendous wealth from the West to the Arab states and other oil-producing countries and the fall of top leaders all over the world. As always, there were fads; and, Evel Knievel's profitable non-conquest of Snake River showed people that there had been better years for American heroes.
A bit of irony occurred in 1974, involving Richard Milhous Nixon. After he won the presidency in 1968, political observers were calling his victory a major political comeback. This past year, saw the same man embroiled in a scandal called Watergate that was either going to lead to his impeachment or resignation from office. The latter prevailed. A LIFE magazine reporter described it as 'Richard Nixon's life going from pomp and power to the very edge.' From distinguishable acts in foreign affairs to a time of terrible illness, when he was weary and depressed, his power gone, the former President came within seconds of dying after an operation to relieve his phlebitis condition.
Many thought the President's celebrated five-nation Middle East tour in June was an escape from Watergate. But he had accomplishments. He was the first American President to visit Egypt. When he talked with Egyptian President Anwar Sadat, he was the "very picture of a man at the top of his great powers. "
By mid-October, his life did a total about-face. He resigned two months earlier instead of facing almost sure impeachment proceedings. Not only Democrats called for his resignation, but also his fellow Republicans. His resignation, they said, would be wondrous for the already scandal-ridden party. Although his successor, Gerald Ford, pardoned him to "drop
Watergate once and for all," Nixon was still ill, disgraced, and in serious financial trouble for back taxes and poor health. His phlebitis was getting worse and doctors found a clot in his lung. After a series of critical problems, he went into a deep shock from internal bleeding just six hours after the operation. "We almost lost the President," said Ronald Zeigler, But slowly, Richard Nixon began to recover in the seclusion of San Clemente.
Special prosecutor Leon Jaworski called for the tapes of telephone conversations that eventually added to the demise of President Nixon around mid-July. On July 25, he gave the President 10 days to turn the tapes over to him .
The House Judiciary Committee was already considering impeachment. Americans were meeting new faces thanks to the televised hearings that according the LIFE gave Congress "new and needed credit across the country. "
Obstruction of justice was just one of the charges drafted by the House Judiciary Committee. On that note, signs of protest began dotting America's streets. One sign said "Jail to the Chief. "
In late July, the latest Gallop Poll showed Richard Nixon's popularity had fallen from a zenith of 68 per cent to a low of 24 per cent approving of his actions in office. At this point, more Republicans were crossing the tracks to join Democrats in calling for the resignation of the President.
One member of the White House staff called Nixon "... a general who has lost the war but just keeps standing at the command post directing his troops."
On July 27, by a vote of 27-11, the House Judiciary Committee came to the decision that Richard M. Nixon "warrants impeachments and trial, and removal from office."
Just two days after the decision for impeachment, Nixon's secretary of the treasury and one of his closest confidants, John Connally, was indicted by a federal grand jury on five counts of perjury, obstruction of justice and accepting bribes of $10,000 from the Associated Milk Producers, Inc..
The votes kept mounting in favor of Nixon's
impeachment. On July 31, another key Nixon aid, John Ehrlichman, was sentenced to prison for perjury and for conspiring to violate the civil rights of Dr. Lewis J. Felding, Daniel Ellsberg's psychiatrist.
By the first of August, the Watergate tapes were adding excessive burden on the chance for survival of President Nixon. To add insult to injury, all ten of the Judiciary Committee Republicans who had supported Nixon now voted to impeach him,.
On Thursday night, August 8, the 37th President of the United States resigned and Gerald Ford became the 38th President.
However the Nixon family was not the only family in the political spotlight to share grief and sorrows, there the Edward Kennedys'. After Teddy Jr.'s right leg was amputated for bone cancer, it was confirmed that Mrs. Joan Kennedy was undergoing psychiatric care. New press investigations and new questions about
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Chappaquiddick, plus a drunk driving rap for Joan, caused Edward Kennedy to withdraw from the 1976 Presidential race. This left the field wide open for the Democratic nominations of George Wallace, Harold Jackson, and many dark horses .
The CIA felt the twist of fate when, in January, director William I. Colby confirmed that the CIA had read mail and kept secret files on at least 10,000 "dissident" Amerir s. Among the "facts" that the CIA kept on the "dissidents" were their sex habits.
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