Skip to main content

Nixonian Echo in Musharraf's Exit

With Pakistan's President Musharraf announcing his resignation today amid parliament preparations for his impeachment, Americans may be reminded of another high-profile resignation that took place 34 years and nine days ago — that of U.S. President Richard Nixon.

The only president in the history of the office to resign, Nixon announced his decision to the public on August 9, 1974, officially resigning from the presidency the following morning. At the time of his decision, the country had been embroiled in the scandals surrounding Watergate for well over a year, and it finally looked as though Nixon would be the second president to confront impeachment - the first, Andrew Jackson, was impeached by the House of representatives in 1968, only to be acquitted by the Senate the same day.

But though stepping down from power is never easy, both men's actions suggest it's certainly a better option than being pushed. Though his final address made clear he would have "preferred to carry through to the finish," in the end Nixon was able to dig deep for the answer to the ultimate test of any leader: "the interests of the Nation must always come before any personal considerations."

A similar note was sounded in Musharraf's valedictory: "There are lots of my supporters and well-wishers, and there are lots of opinion polls, that say I should stay in power. I know that there are many well-wishers and supporters that were telling me to do something else, but I would like to tell them, please accept this truthful decision for the nation and in the people's interest."