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Breeding Competence

After narrowly winning the Presidency in 1968, Richard Nixon had no allusions that governing would be easy.

With opposition control of both houses of Congress, the new tenant of the White House not only had to assuage the social unrest of the late 1960s, but manage the end of an unpopular war he inherited, all while forging ahead with an ambitious vision of peace abroad, and unity at home.

To shepherd the new mandate from the ‘silent majority’, RN made it one of his first orders to staff the executive branch with able, intelligent, and energetic people who were not only team oriented, but could run the government with what he called “a clear eye for efficiency, and a tough approach to wastefulness.”

The groundbreaking professionalization of the executive branch was the subject of a Nixon Legacy Forum on June 8, 2012 featuring veterans of the President’s White House Personnel team, including Barbara Hackman Franklin, Allan G. Kaupinen, Frederic V. Malek, Jerry H. Jones, and E. Pendleton James.

There was “incredible pressure on the President,” said Jones, who served as Director of White House Personnel in RN’s second administration. Nevertheless “we were able to fill the positions with exceptional, patriotic people who wanted to serve."

Watch the entire forum, Nixon's Recruits: The Professionalization of Executive Appointments below:

Jonathan Movroydis is the Director of Communications at the Richard Nixon Foundation.