And as the “cancer” – Watergate - starts to eat his presidency up, it’s fascinating to listen to his denial of it. He gets caught with his hand in the cookie jar, but he never cops to it.
He believed to the core of his soul that he knew what was best for America. He thought America should be tough and have the values that he believed in. And the end justified the means. So, even though he knew that he had taken some dark twists and turns along the way, that wasn’t what was important. When he sat down for an interview with someone like Dan Rather or Barbara Walters, he would say, I'm a President who gets results. My achievements and my record will be measured by results. So, getting results was what he was all about, and in his mind it didn't matter how you he got those results. He could lie, cheat, or steal as long as the end result achieved what he wanted it to be.
Watergate is what people think of when they think of his presidency: the dirty tricks. But what I think the film shows is that he was behaving in the same way all along, whether it was when he was picking a Supreme Court judge, or plotting against individual press members, or going after Daniel Ellsberg for leaking the Pentagon Papers. He didn't change his behavior. It’s just that once Watergate broke, it became labeled as ‘Watergate behavior’. But it was really Nixon behavior that had taken shape throughout a long, hard political career.