Fisher Investments Presents: On the Attack; Not So Fast; Quote of the Week

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Good morning. It’s Friday, Oct. 11, 2019, the day of the week for parsing an inspirational historical quotation. Today’s comes from an unlikely source: the only U.S. president driven from office in the face of impeachment proceedings -- just as he began to contemplate the possibility of not finishing his second term in the White House.

I’ll have more on Richard Nixon’s uncharacteristic bout of graceful clarity in a moment. First, I’d point you to RealClearPolitics’ front page, which presents our poll averages, videos, breaking news stories, and aggregated opinion columns spanning the political spectrum. We also offer original material from our own reporters and contributors, including the following:

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Trump Gets Personal in Minn., Rips Bidens, Omar, Springsteen. Susan Crabtree reports on the president’s remarks at a Minneapolis rally last night.

Democrats Making a Big Mistake by Rushing Impeachment. A.B. Stoddard explains why moving too quickly could backfire.

Warren’s Transgender Inmate Stance Counters Her 2012 Position. Phil Wegmann has the story.

Trump’s Lightweight Alternative to “Medicare for All.” In RealClearPolicy, James Capretta finds fault with the president’s executive order regarding Medicare Advantage.

Proposed Drug Price Reform Would Harm Rare-Disease Patients. In RealClearHealth, Kenneth E. Thorpe predicts unintended consequences from a watchdog group’s ratings to determine which medicines are worth covering.

Trump’s Syria Pullback Is Part of a Consistent Policy. In RealClearDefense, James Durso hails the effort to reduce foreign entanglements.

California Schemin’. In RealClearEnergy, Robert Norton hits back at the Golden State's push for stricter car emission standards.

God, America and Nationalism. In RealClearReligion, Mark Tooley cites the rationale behind a conference on the topic this week in Washington.

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The Watergate scandal was already starting to envelop the Oval Office in October of 1973 when Spiro T. Agnew’s past caught up with him. An investigation by the U.S. Attorney's office in Baltimore resulted in federal charges of extortion, tax fraud, bribery, and conspiracy, dating back to the vice president’s tenure as Baltimore County executive and governor of Maryland.

Although Agnew denied the bribery accusations, he pleaded no-contest to a single charge of failing to report $29,500 of income from 1967. On Oct. 10, 1973, he resigned from office. He was fined $10,000 and placed on three years' probation. While the plea bargain kept Agnew out of prison, it also meant that Richard Nixon faced the prospect of complying with the relatively new 25th Amendment. Ratified six years earlier, it necessitated that Nixon nominate a new vice president, subject to congressional approval.

The president sought the counsel of Senate and House leaders of both parties. In his meeting with Rep. Jerry Ford, Nixon asked the minority leader to canvass House Republicans for their views. Ford complied with this request on Oct. 11, 1973, telling his colleagues that Nixon had mentioned three criteria for the nominee: The person must agree with administration foreign policy, be confirmable in both chambers of Congress, and be someone whom they could envision as president should the need arise.

Taking this advice to heart, Jerry Ford sent Nixon a brief private letter, recommending four people, in the following order: John Connally, Melvin Laird, Nelson Rockefeller and Ronald Reagan.

The name of California’s governor kept coming up in letters Nixon received from hundreds of other members of Congress and politically connected Americans. Of the 142 members of the Republican National Committee who responded, 56 recommended that he choose Reagan. According to the National Archives, movie actor John Wayne agreed with this idea. Wayne dispatched a telegram to the White House describing California's chief executive as “the most untarnished and honorable American leader in politics.”

Another name offered, albeit much less frequently, was George H.W. Bush. Both Bush and Reagan would get their chance later. This would prove to be Jerry Ford’s time. On Thursday evening, Oct. 11, 1973 -- 46 years ago tonight -- Nixon retreated to Camp David to mull over the suggestions. He returned the next morning with his mind made up, a decision he shared with the American people shortly after 9 p.m. Oct. 12, in an East Room announcement.

Nixon’s choice was Ford himself. Whatever his other faults and misjudgments, on this occasion Richard M. Nixon proved prescient. “If the responsibilities of the great office that I hold should fall upon him,” Nixon said of Jerry Ford, “as has been the case with eight vice presidents in our history, we could all say the leadership of America is in good hands.”

And that is our quote of the week. 

Carl M. Cannon  
Washington Bureau chief, RealClearPolitics
@CarlCannon (Twitter)

Carl M. Cannon is the Washington bureau chief for RealClearPolitics. Reach him on Twitter @CarlCannon.

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