In A Life in Full, his biography of RN, Conrad Black surveys the situation at the end of the Nixon Administration’s first year, on New Year’s Eve 1969:
Nixon had withdrawn another 50,000 men from Vietnam by year’s end, bringing U.S. force levels down 115,000 to 435,000, easily beating Clark Clifford’s target of 100,000 fewer by the end of 1970, the level of mid-1967. He had driven the anti-war movement to the political fringe, and no one could say that he was not pursuing a coherent policy in Vietnam, solidly supported in the country.
The first family went to California for the holidays. Nixon had been innovative and effective in many areas and was the undisputed master political tactician of recent American history. His popularity surged after his December 8 press conference to an astounding 81 percent. This was a levitation, certainly, but was more genuine than Newsweek’s jubilant banner in October of “Nixon in Trouble.”
The silent majority had spoken, and the nation was much quieter than when Richard Nixon was preparing to be inducted into the presidency he had won by a wafer-0thin margin a year before. A terrible decade for America, which had started with the sun setting on the tranquil complacency of the Eisenhower era, ended in slowly reviving serenity. The United States had its president to thank for that.