Many people have strong feelings about Nixon. Some hate him passionately as one who betrayed the trust of the American people. Others forgive his crimes and errors and see him as one who accomplished much and suffered much in service to his nation. These feelings about Nixon are often colored by one’s own ideological viewpoint. Liberals tend to condemn him, whereas conservatives wish to downplay his failures.
Many people who admire Nixon emphasize his intellectual prowess. This brings the question, “How could anyone supposedly as intelligent as Nixon countenance the Watergate break-in?” His reelection was virtually assured. No one needed to spy on the Democrats.
Charles Colson, once counselor to Nixon in the White House, provided what I believe to be the most plausible answer. Colson was convinced that Nixon knew nothing of the Watergate break-in before it happened, but once it happened Nixon’s natural instinct was to protect and support those who had done something they thought would help him. In other words, Nixon was destroyed by excessive loyalty to his own subordinates, and the excessive loyalty was in part a product of Nixon’s “us-vs-them” partisan mentality that apparently regarded almost anything as being allowable in war and politics.