THE pattern of ruin and renewal that defined President Nixon repeats itself in his final journey.
The same Boeing 707 that took the 37th president home after he resigned over the Watergate scandal would carry his body to Yorba Linda, Calif., April 26 for a lavish state funeral in his birth city.
Nixon, who spent a political lifetime battling Democrats, will be buried April 27 on the grounds of his childhood home. One of the eulogies will come from President Clinton, who protested Nixon's Vietnam War policies as a student in Britain. Hillary Rodham Clinton was a lawyer on the House Judiciary Committee as it considered impeachment charges against Nixon.
Those who knew Nixon say funeral arrangements are fitting for one who resigned in disgrace only to emerge from political exile as an elder statesmen whose counsel was sought by his successors, both Republican and Democratic.
``Politics are full of ironies,'' said former Nixon aide Ken Khachigian, ``and Richard Nixon's politics are probably fuller than most.''
The first stop in California on April 26 will be a Marine base that is closing, the casualty of a defense budget that shrank with the end of the cold war that shaped Nixon's career.
Nixon's final resting place is the nine-acre Nixon Library and Birthplace in Yorba Linda. Nixon referred to the house in the opening line of his memoirs: ``I was born in the house my father built.''
Though he was born in the state, California never entirely warmed to Nixon, nor he to it. His ``last press conference,'' in which he told the press it wouldn't ``have Nixon to kick around anymore,'' came after he lost the 1962 governor's race.
Soon after, Nixon went East on the path that would lead him to the White House and, finally, back home again.
Nixon didn't want a funeral in Washington because it would have been only a backdrop for diplomacy and politics rather than a tribute to the man, said Dimitri Simes, a foreign-policy expert and Nixon confidant. ``This, in my view, is a very different funeral, and that is how President Nixon wanted it.'' @HEADBRIEF = California `single payer' plan
CALIFORNIA voters may decide this fall whether to set up a government-run health-insurance system that would guarantee coverage to the state's 31 million residents.
Supporters said April 25 they are certain they have enough signatures to put the ``single payer plan'' proposal on the ballot.
President Clinton's health-care proposal gives states the option of adopting a single-payer plan. No state has adopted one.
``California is the only state in the country this year where health-care reform will be voted on directly by the people,'' said Glen Schneider, campaign chairman for Californians for Health Security. ``We expect this will be a wake-up call for Congress that people want real action.''
The initiative would set up a state-run program led by a health-care commissioner who would negotiate fees with providers. All legal residents would get benefits including mental-health care, long-term care, and prescription-drug coverage.
The program would cost some $105 billion per year, said Martha Kowalick, the campaign's state coordinator. California now spends $60 billion in state and federal money on health care.
The new plan would be paid for by existing government spending, a business payroll tax, an income-tax surcharge of 2.5 percent, and a cigarette tax of $1 per pack. Schneider said the taxes were designed to raise the same amounts businesses and individuals now pay in total for health insurance. ``Most businesses will spend less,'' he said. ``Some businesses who are not doing anything now will have to pay.''
Patients would be able to choose their own doctors under the plan, he said.
Dr. Quentin Young, national coordinator of Physicians for a National Health Program, a Chicago-based group also pushing for single-payer health insurance, said, ``The vote in California on single payer will be a watershed event.''
But Michael Pettengill, head of the California Physicians Advisory Council, said the proposal is ``bad medicine for families and businesses already suffering under the California economy.''