He began seeing 1972 in apocalyptic terms: if he lost the presidency, America might end. Any imaginable Democratic nominee was "irresponsible domestically" and "extremely dangerous internationally." He had come to understand something profound in his two years as president, in all those lonely afternoons brooding alone in his hideaway office in the Executive office Building--the kind of profundity too deep to share with the mere public: "America has only two more years as the number one power." America had either to "make the best deals we can between now and 1975 or increase our conventional strength. No Democrat can sell this to the country."
So it was that the Old and New Nixon, serpent and sage, collided in a single astonishing insight: in order to responsibly steward the American people through the coming crisis, he first had to bluff America into believing in its own invincibility.
Indeed, to keep from losing another election, he was willing to consider just about anything. This time around he would leave nothing, nothing, nothing to chance.
I can't wait to find out what happens. ; )