Nixon years revisited as library goes public

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Unquestioning partisanship is giving way to a balanced view of Richard Nixon at his presidential library as the federal government prepares to take it over from a private foundation.

Opened in 1990, four years before the 37th president died, the Nixon Presidential Library and Birthplace has been an orphan. It's the only one among 12 presidential libraries that gets no taxpayer funds.

The library doesn't hold Nixon's presidential papers because Congress wanted to ensure that he wouldn't destroy his records after he resigned in 1974 to avoid impeachment. By law, Nixon's 44 million pages of records and 3,000 hours of secretly recorded Oval Office audiotapes have been held at a National Archives and Records Administration facility in Maryland.

Nixon's family and loyalists have been presenting their take on history at the 9-acre library site, where Nixon and his wife, Patricia, are buried. (Nixon's daughters, Julie Eisenhower and Tricia Cox, in 2002 patched up a six-year feud over how to run the $40 million Nixon Library and Birthplace Foundation.)

In library exhibits, John F. Kennedy's voice is never heard on the videotapes of his 1960 debates with Nixon. A narrator tells visitors the debates proved that on TV "style was more important than substance." There's no mention of Vice President Spiro Agnew's resignation in 1973 amid corruption charges.

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