Foreign Policy and Domestic Scandal

Nixon's extreme case illustrates the variety of potential problems that can arise in a scandal-weakened presidency. President Clinton seems to have dodged the bullet on the face of it; the November 3 election results demonstrated his remarkable po

Issue: Winter 1998-1999

On October 20, 1973, an Arab-Israeli war was still raging in the Middle East when the "Saturday night massacre" occurred in Washington. President Nixon's firing of Watergate special prosecutor Archibald Cox precipitated the resignation of Attorney General Elliot Richardson and his deputy, and accelerated the impeachment process that ten months later drove Nixon to resign. The domestic uproar over the "Saturday night massacre", in turn, was still raging four days later when the Soviet Union threatened to intervene unilaterally in the Arab-Israeli war, leading the United States to place its armed forces on a dramatic worldwide alert. That wasn't all: the total Arab oil embargo against the United States was declared on the very Saturday of the "Saturday night massacre." In addition, Washington was still reeling from the unprecedented resignation-under-a-cloud of Vice President Spiro Agnew on October 10--four days after the Arab-Israeli war began.

You must be a subscriber of The National Interest to access this article. If you are already a subscriber, please activate your online access. Not a subscriber? Become a subscriber today!