On this day in 1971, President Richard Nixon, to the complete surprise of the American public, announced that he would be visiting communist China in 1972. It was an abrupt, about-face departure from a stance the vehemently anti-communist Nixon had campaigned upon. But the lost lives and political costs of the Vietnam war—as well as the insistent advice of Nixon’s Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger—led Nixon away from his intransigence and into a momentous meeting that would shape the course of American diplomacy and international affairs for decades.
Forty years ago, Richard Milhous Nixon became the first and only president to announce his resignation from office. Thank God he did, because Nixon was a gill-breathing bottom-dweller, a paranoiac with a reverse-Midas touch, turning everything he contacted into turd. But his disgraceful quitting also screwed us.