I think Nixon may have been more psychologically prepared to take the Presidency in 1960. In ‘60, we were still like the ‘50s in many ways, still stable and unified. After JFK & LBJ, this country was a disaster by 1968, divided, radicalized, total basketcase. I think Nixon’s Presidency from a 1961-1969 period would’ve kept the country more unified, he’d have made a more moderate approach to Civil Rights issues that wouldn’t have led to radicalization (and more to the point, not leading Blacks over 90% into the Dem party), I think he would’ve gone balls-to-the-walls with respect to freeing Cuba and not dicked around on Vietnam and achieved a victory far earlier. He’d not have given a damn about appeasing closeted Marxist idiots like Walter Cronkite and other fellow traveller media types, just charging ahead and doing what he thought was right. As I said earlier, I think we would’ve been a far different country today.
I blame JFK for his weakness in 1961 which led to Khrushchev’s overreach in 1962. So the Bay of Pigs fiasco, for fear of a brief burst of Latin outrage, led to a confrontation with a nuclear power. I blame him for not intervening in modest force in Laos, which would have severed the pipeline to the Viet Cong, and of course the murder of the Diem Brothers. As for the Civil Rights movement, he was pretty much reacting to events and of course he had not not a chance in hades of getting a civil rights bill through Congress. Only Johnson could have done that. I think that Nixon, on the other hand, could have gotten one through, one that—ironically—a more modest bill sheparded by LBJ—who looking to 1964 would not have antagonized the South, although they would not have supported it, and maybe not even Goldwater. I can see a Civil Rights act that did not more than implement the terms of the 14th Amendment and did not contain the more radical parts being signed by Nixon. As for the war, I was astonished when I saw LBJ decide to intervene with insufficient force. Anyone looking at the map could see he needed twice the force he was willing to commit. ( I got the same feeling when Bush started WITHDRAWING the invasion force in 2003 as the follow-on force started arriving. ) One thing about Kennedy, though. I think he respected the advise he got from Eisenhower . Eisenhower never liked what was going on and Kennedy might have listened to him where Johnson wouldn’t.
Although Goldwater and most of the other minority of Republicans that voted against the Civil rights act did so for constitutional reasons it’s that vote that gave Johnson 90% of the black vote.
And unfortunately it stayed that way. Even though the act wouldn’t have passed without the support of conservative GOP Senate leader Ev Dirksen. (who’s decomposed bones I’d glady vote for over Mark Kirk)