January 9 - Happy Birthday, Richard Nixon

Posted on January 9, 2017

There are only five people in my family (the one I raised), and there have only been 43 different men who have served as President of the United States (POTUS).

And there are 366 possible birthdays -- 73 times the number of birthdays in my family, and more than 8 and a half times the number of presidential birthdays.

So, chances are, there would be nobody in my family who shares a birthday with a president.

Instead, TWO out of the five of us share a birthday with a former president! One shares Thomas Jefferson's birthday, and the other shares Richard Nixon's...

The latter being today!

Nixon was born and raised near where I live (in Yorba Linda, California), and he went to college in California, too (in Whittier). He practiced law in California before living in Washington, D.C., and serving in the federal government, serving in the U.S. Navy Reserves during World War II, serving in the House of Representatives and the Senate, and then serving as Vice President of the United States, under Eisenhower. 

The first time Nixon ran for the top job, President, he lost in a squeaker of an election to John F. Kennedy. Later he lost a race to become California's governor. Finally, in 1968, Richard Nixon ran for POTUS again and defeated Herbert Humphrey. He became the 37th president.

Some of the good things Nixon did include finally ending the Vietnam War, ending the military draft, and bringing home the American Prisoners of War (POWs). He was able to make the world a bit safer by setting up some treaties with the Soviet Union and by opening diplomatic relations with China. He enforced desegregation of public schools in the South, and he established the Environmental Protection Agency.

Some of the bad things Nixon did include being involved in a break-in at the Democratic National Committee headquarters in Washington, D.C., and being even more involved in an attempt to cover it up. Nixon's administration has become famous for "dirty tricks" such as bugging political opponents' offices and using federal agencies to go after political opponents. 

The "bad things" listed above are usually referred to as the Watergate scandal. Because of this scandal, Nixon faced almost certain impeachment, so he resigned the presidency and his Vice President, Gerald Ford, became the 38th president.

A name that influenced other names...

I mentioned that the political scandal surrounding the end of the Nixon presidency was called the Watergate scandal. That's because
the DNC headquarters were located at the Watergate office complex.

Since then, other political scandals -- or events that some people tried to convince others were scandals -- have been tagged with the suffix "-gate." Just a few of the many "-gates" include Billiegate, Koreagate, Nannygate, Whitewatergate.

The use of this suffix has spread to other countries -- even countries that have languages other than English! There have been reports of the suffix being used, for example, in Hungary, Argentina, and South Korea (among many others).

Also, the suffix "-gate" has spread to non-political arenas. In the entertainment world, for example, has seen Donutgate and Flakegate, journalism has been rocked by such controversies as Facebookgate and Memogate, and hacking of science personnel was dubbed Climategate. Even sports has controversies, including Bottlegate, Skategate, and the recent Olympic's embarrassment, Lochtegate.


Also on this date:

Back to Normal Monday 

Martyrs' Day in Panama

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