His record also helps us understand how far to the right our country has shifted in the last 40 years. And how the concern for secrecy and the attempts to stop leaks can obsess a president as it seems to obsess Obama. And what can go wrong if that obsession is not counterbalanced with respect for the rights of United States citizens.
Some events from Nixon's record as president:
Nixon created the Environmental Protection Agency and got the Clean Air Act passed.
But he vetoed the Clean Water Act, however he was overridden by Congress.
He set up taping systems in the Old Executive Office Building, the White House, and at Camp David to secretly tape all his conversations for history.
Nixon signed an Emergency Employment Act in 1971. earmarking $2.25 billion for the creation of public service jobs at state and local levels.
He surprised the world by going to China and establishing relations with the country we'd refused to acknowledge since it went Communist.
He also was the first US president to visit the Soviet Union.
He was mired in Watergate and late one night walked out to the Lincoln Memorial and talked to very surprised students there.
He enacted legislation devaluing the dollar in 1972
He froze all prices for sixty days except raw agricultural products and rents in 1973.
His vice president Spiro Agnew resigned and pled 'no contest' to a kickback scheme while Governor of Maryland in 1973.
He increased Social Security benefits in 1973 and increased the minimum wage to $2 with the likelihood of future increases and broader coverage in 1974.
As a result of an IRS investigation into Nixon's finances, the President was forced to pay $432,787 in back taxes and $33,000 interest in 1974.
And here's a juicy tidbit from Wikipedia:
December 31, 1974: As a result of Nixon administration abuses of privacy, Privacy Act of 1974 passes into law. Ford is persuaded to veto the bill by Richard Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld; Congress overrides Ford's veto. (Note that the newly-elected Congress had not taken office yet, this Congress was still the 93rd Congress.)
Sources of information and for more details:
The Miller Center
On The Issues