We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
Most Americans do not remember the details of the Watergate charges and facts, if they ever knew them. Instead, the word Watergate has been used to villify President Nixon, most of what he stood for, and almost any scandal since is called a -gate. Fred Thompson was the Republican counsel on the Congressional Watergate Committee. In a look back that is important to read, Thompson reflects on the context, the charges, the findings and what the findings ignored. As the subtitle of the piece says, "Caricatures of the evil Nixon don’t help us learn how to counter abuses of power." Today, we still suffer, not just domestic breakins or coverups but the far worse wholesale usurpation of Congressional power by this President, the betrayal of allies, and the gross undermining of our national security. A taste of Thompson:
Today, the office of the president, along with the entire executive branch of government, grows with each administration, bringing less accountability and more opportunity for improper activity. Today, unelected bureaucrats tell states what they can and cannot do about the enforcement of their own well-established laws. Federal regulations run every aspect of American life,even as the Supreme Court regularly slaps them down. These actions on the part of the executive branch are not criminal, but neither were many of the arrogant and foolish things the Watergate crowd did. At issue here is not just a few bad individuals. At issue is the way power can be used and abused. Watergate was not the first time the darker side of human nature manifested itself, nor was it the last time.
Consider the issue of the inherent powers of the presidency, especially with regard to national security. It was activities in this area — before the crimes of Watergate took place — that are relevant and sometimes overlooked today.
What led to the Watergate cover-up was the fear that an investigation would reveal non-Watergate activities by the “plumbers’ unit” in the White House, which had been set up to “plug leaks,” among other things. Daniel Ellsberg had leaked the Pentagon Papers in 1970, and the plumbers broke into the office of his psychiatrist to root out information about him. They wiretapped reporters, even White House aides. The list of their offenses is long.
Oh, and remember, millions of lives were lost to the communist takeover of Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos, once the Watergate reaction put a large Democrat majority in Congress.
What percentage of Americans can identify what President Nixon did during the Watergate affair, that earned him such opprobrium?
I'll bet it's one percent, at most.
Compared with the poseur now disgracing the Presidency, Nixon now seems positively admirable.
I suspect that historians will someday consider Nixon's most objectionable act to have been re-establishment of relations with China.
Just a hunch.
Well, I remember. Nixon did some very stupid things. But, I would have preferred more meat about just how far out of control the executive is now. Because compared to Nixon's mostly justified but overdone paranoia, his enthusiastic band of advisors, petty burglaries and amateurish cover-ups in the teeth of certain electoral victory; Obama's dictatorial powers are vastly more dangerous. It is, I fear, over and done.
Someday, read Fox reporter James Rubin's book from a year or three ago, "The Strong Man". The title character is John Mitchell, but Watergate is the story, and Rubin pretty much writes the history with his deep research --that Watergate was start to finish a Ted Kennedy (as presidential aspirant)/ Katherine Graham (WaPo heiress/owner) -driven scandal. What it amounted to, was a coup d'etat, once the theatrical careerism of the media stars is taken for what it would have been worth anywhere but as fuel for the bonfires of the vanities of that time and place.