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Nixon's Five Wars
June 11, 2012 10:03 AM   Subscribe

Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward: 40 years after Watergate, Nixon was far worse than we thought.

On the 40th Anniversary of Watergate, the Washington Post is looking back:

The Watergate Story:
Timeline
Part I: The Post Investigates
Part II: The Government Acts
Part III: Nixon Resigns
Part IV: Deep Throat Revealed

Links to the Post's original articles / Resources / Multimedia

Video: "After a firestorm of criticism for dismissing Special Prosecutor Archibald Cox, Nixon felt obliged to defend himself from charges he was acting like a common criminal. In an hour-long question-and-answer session with 400 Associated Press editors, Nov. 17, 1973, he declares" "I have earned every cent. And in all of my years of public life I have never obstructed justice. People have got to know whether or not their President is a crook. Well, I'm not a crook. I've earned everything I've got." How it was reported by the Post back then.


Op Eds
40 years after Watergate, investigative journalism is at risk.

"We Can't Have a Scandal Without A -Gate"

The Post is also asking readers, "What would Watergate look like today?"

‘Richard Nixon retired very happily:’ What if Watergate hadn’t happened? From 1992, by Martha Sherril, the Washington Post's style columnist. Via

Editorial cartoonist Herblock: Drawing the Scandal / The Cartoons


Additional Resources
The Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas at Austin has an online web exhibition: The Woodward and Bernstein Papers Previously

Watergate.info Previously


Previously On Mefi
* Deep Throat Revealed
* W. Mark "Deep Throat" Felt's death
* Risking Everything
* The Red Flag in the Flowerpot
* "1:47 Call Police found tape on door" (Frank Willis' death revisited)
* Rose Mary Woods, 1917-2005: Nixon's private secretary
* John Dean's Watergate Exposé


Event
At 6:15pm today, Woodward, Bernstein and other Watergate figures will speak at a Washington Post Live forum, streamed at their website.
posted by zarq (72 comments total) 81 users marked this as a favorite

 
Last but not least, the linked, joint op ed at the top this post is the first time in 36 years that Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein have shared a byline in the Washington Post.
posted by zarq at 10:06 AM on June 11, 2012


This is an excellent post and the lead link is top-notch. Thanks, zarq.
posted by joe lisboa at 10:08 AM on June 11, 2012 [8 favorites]


Seconding that. Thanks, zarq.
posted by blucevalo at 10:10 AM on June 11, 2012


Nice post, looks like my afternoon is planned!

I'll use this as background music.
posted by HuronBob at 10:13 AM on June 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


What would Watergate look like today?

A byline with a couple WaPo journalists found dead of suicide by manless drone, probably. Or, if lucky, tried and convicted for espionage by a kangaroo court, doing hard time in a supermax.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:13 AM on June 11, 2012 [24 favorites]


Is there a bugmenot or some such that works for WaPo?
posted by scottymac at 10:22 AM on June 11, 2012


I should also mention... I was able to access the full articles for every link in this post except (oddly) for the "We Can't Have a Scandal Without A -Gate," which asked for my WashPost site registration. The article isn't pulitzer-winning or anything, but in case you'd like to read it and aren't regged there, try logging in with metafilterlogins at gmail.com. Password is the name of this site, all lowercase.

joe, bob and blucevalo, Thanks! Enjoy!
posted by zarq at 10:22 AM on June 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'd love to read this, but you've linked to an article only available with a paid subscription.
posted by Blackanvil at 10:24 AM on June 11, 2012


I just read it without any kind of payment, although it did prompt me to sign up for a free login at page 3.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 10:26 AM on June 11, 2012


I'm old enough to remember when Nixon was actually president. Half the country considered him the Devil incarnate, and knew he was a cold, sleazy bastard.

BUT, he gave us the EPA. He indexed Social Security - which, literally, saved old folks from eating pet food. He ended the draft.

Which makes him a more effective liberal than our last seven presidents. Go figure.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 10:26 AM on June 11, 2012 [45 favorites]


Tricky Dick eventually became an "elder statesman" according to our betters in the MSM. And Woodward became the spokes model for the establishment. Ironic, eh?
posted by Phud at 10:30 AM on June 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Blackanvil: "I'd love to read this, but you've linked to an article only available with a paid subscription."

To the best of my knowledge, the Washington Post does not have any sort of pay structure built into their website.
posted by zarq at 10:31 AM on June 11, 2012


The thing about Watergate that never made sense to me was that it was so completely unnecessary. Nixon won in 1972 by a landslide.
posted by three blind mice at 10:31 AM on June 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


What would Watergate look like today?

A byline with a couple WaPo journalists found dead of suicide by manless drone, probably. Or, if lucky, tried and convicted for espionage by a kangaroo court, doing hard time in a supermax.


No, more like "who cares? I'm too busy on Facebook playing Farmville."
posted by Melismata at 10:31 AM on June 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


Would it even happen? Don't we have technically legal shit that works way better?
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 10:32 AM on June 11, 2012


The thing about Watergate that never made sense to me was that it was so completely unnecessary. Nixon won in 1972 by a landslide.

He won in a landslide because of an ongoing campaign of dirty tricks and espionage of which Watergate was merely a small part. The actual break-in was unnecessary at that point, but why change a winning strategy?
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 10:33 AM on June 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


Single page version of the first link.
posted by XMLicious at 10:33 AM on June 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


Yesterday while southbound on the 57 Freeway, coming home from lunch with my father-in-law, we passed by a sign announcing the Richard Nixon Birthplace and Museum and I thought to myself, "Was what Richard Nixon did really all that terrible?"

Yeah, it was.
posted by notyou at 10:34 AM on June 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


All reflected a mind-set and a pattern of behavior that were uniquely and pervasively Nixon’s: a willingness to disregard the law for political advantage, and a quest for dirt and secrets about his opponents as an organizing principle of his presidency.
That statement is downright delusional. A lot of presidents after Nixon have behaved the same way. And Woodward and Bernstein are somewhat complicity in pretending that's not the case. Iran Contra is a good example. But nowadays there's barely even an investigation.
posted by delmoi at 10:42 AM on June 11, 2012 [6 favorites]


40 years after Watergate, Nixon was far worse than we thought.

...so buy our new book and find out why!
posted by KokuRyu at 10:43 AM on June 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


Seriously, great post, but how much worse can Nixon possibly be than Bush 2? GWB's presidency was guided by Nixonian sociopathic retreads like Cheney and Don Rumsfeld, for heaven's sake.
posted by KokuRyu at 10:44 AM on June 11, 2012 [4 favorites]


KokuRyu: "Seriously, great post, but how much worse can Nixon possibly be than Bush 2? GWB's presidency was guided by Nixonian sociopathic retreads like Cheney and Don Rumsfeld, for heaven's sake."

This is sort of a half-formed idea, but I've always had a vague sense that Americans lost their final shred of innocence about both US politics and the hero worship of the Presidency thanks to Richard Nixon. He lied to us outright about both Vietnam and Cambodia and ran his Presidency like a bit of a paranoid mob boss. As someone mentioned above, half the country thought he was a crooked sleazebag. Because of this, the country hit its nadir, in a progressive spiral downward from the heights of nationalistic patriotism in World War II. A fall that had been sparked by the Korean war, weighted down by civil rights unrest, anti-war sentiment and shoved downward by President Kennedy's assassination.

I wonder if, looking back, Nixon will be seen as the true birthplace of both modern American cynicism and apathy about the political process and politicians.
posted by zarq at 10:53 AM on June 11, 2012 [14 favorites]


The CIA and FBI cooperating to help take down political opponents... for one of the parties. Well, at least you can say that they know (hopefully knew, though I wouldn't put it past anyone nowadays either) on which side their bread is buttered.
posted by Slackermagee at 10:53 AM on June 11, 2012


The thing about Watergate that never made sense to me was that it was so completely unnecessary. Nixon won in 1972 by a landslide.

I read somewhere that he was obsessed with not just winning but beating Johnson's 1964 margin over Goldwater. which he did by some metrics.
posted by Blue Meanie at 10:57 AM on June 11, 2012


I wonder if, looking back, Nixon will be seen as the true birthplace of both modern American cynicism and apathy about the political process and politicians.

I dunno, it's pretty striking to see footage of college students calling Hubert Humphrey, who started his career with a reputation as a deeply humane and principled politician, a war criminal.
posted by KokuRyu at 11:07 AM on June 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Nixon's legacy is a crazy mixed bag. EPA, OSHEA, Clean Air & Clean Water, opening trade with China, Watergate, bombing Cambodia, withdrawal from Vietnam. He was a paranoid vulgar man, he did get some very important legislation in place though.
posted by karmiolz at 11:12 AM on June 11, 2012


Which makes him a more effective liberal than our last seven presidents. Go figure.

Read. The. Article.
posted by joe lisboa at 11:16 AM on June 11, 2012


Read. The. Article.

I did read the article; in fact, I read it yesterday.

Richard Nixon was a colossally evil, paranoid and power-hungry fucker. He broke both the letter and the spirit of the law, and in a righteous world he would have been called to account. But, realistically, he wasn't the first- and won't be the last- corrupt politician.

The three pieces of legislation I mentioned are part of his legacy, regardless. I stand by my statement.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 11:36 AM on June 11, 2012 [4 favorites]


What would Watergate look like today?

A byline with a couple WaPo journalists found dead of suicide by manless drone, probably. Or, if lucky, tried and convicted for espionage by a kangaroo court, doing hard time in a supermax.


Nope, this suggests Orwell's vision of dystopia. We live in Huxley's.

Today? Woodward and Bernstein 2.0 simply would not be employed by the Washington Post. They'd be freelancers at a flailing alt-weekly or bloggers vaguely attached to some ideologically suspect outlet (Mother Jones or Rolling Stone or something). They would reveal their evidence, the White House would counter with glib dismissals, the White House press poolers would, after maybe the third or fourth revelation of criminal activity and direct connections to the White House, all file versions of the story in which "allegations" are "balanced" against the horse-race handicapping of a random assortment of unnamed senior officials and former White House bigwigs. These stories would never get slugged on the main webpage and would run on A16 of the paper (if at all).

A right-wing blogger would then discover that one of the two freelancers was once detained at an Occupy event, and this would become the focus of the story for several news cycles. It would then fade from view under the next onslaught of gaffe-gate and polling nudgery. The parent company of the website that broke the story would announce, as part of a much larger restructuring to "maximize revenue and traffic potential going forward," that it was shutting down its political blogs.

A year and a half after the election, when the full evidence of criminal wrongdoing is finally unveiled, the mainstream press - led by a thundering lead editorial in the Washington Post - urges the public to put the election-year scandals behind us and let the president get back to the important business of running the country and providing Wall Street with another bailout.
posted by gompa at 11:39 AM on June 11, 2012 [100 favorites]


A little from column A, a little from column B.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:52 AM on June 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Nixon was also a major force in canceling later missions of the Apollo space program and NASA's plan to build space stations, lunar bases and land on Mars.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:56 AM on June 11, 2012


He was a paranoid vulgar man, he did get some very important legislation in place though.

All of which is being actively targeted for root-and-branch dismantling by the newest generation of paranoid, vulgar Nixonian political heirs.
posted by blucevalo at 11:57 AM on June 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


Nixon was also a major force in canceling later missions of the Apollo space program and NASA's plan to build space stations, lunar bases and land on Mars.

To be fair, as much as the human cost, the Vietnam war took a massive economic toll on the United States. Nixon ended the war and brought troops home, and he increased spending on LBJ's social programs — no small feats for a Republican president. The space program seems like a fair trade.

In hindsight, who'd have thought that Nixon would be further to the left than our current Democratic offerings? He was a paranoid and a bigot, but he actually had the country's best interests in mind, at least more occasionally than the stooges whose strings are pulled by defense, energy and healthcare corporations these days.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:14 PM on June 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


Read. The. Article.

Which one? There are a lot of excellent links in this post. Besides, it's not unreasonable to expect that many people commenting here have some interest and relatively in-depth knowledge of Nixon.
posted by KokuRyu at 12:15 PM on June 11, 2012


He won in a landslide because of an ongoing campaign of dirty tricks and espionage of which Watergate was merely a small part.

Disagree. He was a sitting president, we were talking peace with Vietnam, making nice to China, and the Democrats had a really weak candidate. Recall that McGovern could barely convince anyone from his own party to run with him for VP, the odds were that bad. The economy was iffy, but the economy was not a strong point for the Democrats. No, this was Nixon's to lose regardless.

I sometimes wonder, would Nixon have been quite so nutty if the Democratic 1960 campaign hadn't been as crooked as it was? Just imagine - Nixon in power 1960-1964, possibly 1968, then out of our hair. Quite possibly no Vietnam (Eisenhower was not a fan). Quite likely no JFK presidency, certainly no Johnson presidency. A whole other set of pluses and minuses.
posted by IndigoJones at 12:17 PM on June 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


> He won in a landslide because of an ongoing campaign of dirty tricks and espionage
> of which Watergate was merely a small part.

And because the Democrats nominated George McGovern. Every so often one of the major parties goes bananas and nominates the candidate it really wants ideologically. And then they pay for it. The Republicans did it with Goldwater in 1964 (carried 6 states out of 50.) The Democrats did it running McGovern against Nixon (McG took 1 state and Washington DC) and then they did it again with Dukakis (10 states out of 50, plus DC.) You should all hope the current Republicans do let the right wing of the right wing pick their preferred nominee. (Romney isn't it.)
posted by jfuller at 12:17 PM on June 11, 2012


He Was A Crook
posted by benzenedream at 12:19 PM on June 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


jfuller: The early front-runner in the Democratic primary was Ed Muskie. Guess who the dirty tricks in the primary were directed at!
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 12:21 PM on June 11, 2012


What would Watergate look like today?

It's a sad dose of defeatism that even in fiction, WaPo admits that a fictionalized Wikileaks would break the story. And who needs what ifs? Florida chad recounts, systematic disenfranchizing of low income voters, Diebold voting machines delivering elections, tea party co-option, Rupert Murdoch, Walkers' "don't need to vote" robocalls, James O'Keefe. Watch All the Presidents Men and try to not see James O'Keefe in the place of Donald Segretti.

They've just gotten better at plausible deniability and eliminated the money trail while buying up the media. I'm not even sure there is a "they." The corruption is so institutionalized that all these actors can act independently. Create a culture of assassins and you never need to call in the strike.
posted by Skwirl at 12:28 PM on June 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


jfuller: The early front-runner in the Democratic primary was Ed Muskie. Guess who the dirty tricks in the primary were directed at!

If you are interested in the campaign shenanigans (for lack of a better word), see the Canuck Letter. Once Muskie was out of the way, character assassination of Thomas Eagleton could begin.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 12:29 PM on June 11, 2012


Nixon also signed the legislation that created the EPA. He was in many respects an evil, power-hungry liberal too you know.
posted by three blind mice at 12:32 PM on June 11, 2012


three blind mice: The thing about Watergate that never made sense to me was that it was so completely unnecessary. Nixon won in 1972 by a landslide.

I'm guessing that you haven't read Nixonland. Read Nixonland. tl;dr version: the same sort of class- and culture-based resentments that Nixon so carefully nurtured to gain the presidency and keep it (co-opted in part from Reagan and George Wallace) were things that, in his heart, Nixon actually believed--that the "elites" (of various sorts) were out to screw him over, and screw him out of a job, the way that JFK did--and that the only way to win was to be even more of a bastard than "they" were.

The thing that gets me about Watergate is that, if Nixon's black-bag "plumber" team had had the modest degree of professionalism necessary to put the strips of masking tape vertically, along the edge of the door, rather than horizontally, wrapping around the edge and visible from outside (the tape was there to hold the latch in so that they didn't have to re-pick the lock if they left and re-entered), they never would have been caught. Alternatively, if once they had discovered that the tape had been removed (by the security guard, who paid it no mind until he came back on his rounds and discovered it reapplied, in exactly the same way), they had either gotten the hell out of there or simply stuck the tape on in a way that wasn't visible from the outside, none of this would have been public knowledge and we'd have had two full Nixon administrations, with the big scandal being Agnew's resignation. Details matter.
posted by Halloween Jack at 12:35 PM on June 11, 2012 [11 favorites]


>if Nixon's black-bag "plumber" team had had the modest degree of professionalism necessary... they never would have been caught.

As I've written before, there's actually been some interesting revisionist journalism in the last twenty years or so, the thrust of which is to suggest that these seemingly mind-boggling mistakes weren't mistakes at all. According to that narrative, the Watergate saga was to some extent connected to the sub rosa fight between Nixon and Helms' CIA-- and that Nixon's thuggish Plumbers were, on the lower levels, staffed by CIA guys who seemed to have consistently lied to the non-CIA guys about their existing CIA relationships.

It's worth noting that the conventional understanding of the bugging operation seems to be contradicted by the physical evidence and documented logistics of the operation, such that the actual target of the bugging may have been something rather different. And some of the reports on Woodward-- specifically, his pre-journalism Pentagon background and purported early links to Al Haig-- are rather interesting.
posted by darth_tedious at 1:08 PM on June 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


blucevalo: "He was a paranoid vulgar man, he did get some very important legislation in place though.

All of which is being actively targeted for root-and-branch dismantling by the newest generation of paranoid, vulgar Nixonian political heirs.
"

Which is relevant to judgin Nixon how?
posted by IAmBroom at 1:49 PM on June 11, 2012


Props for the Herblock link. Love this one.
I actually met Herb Block once, at the Reuben awards. It was a bit like meeting one of your heroes.
posted by Thorzdad at 2:00 PM on June 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


> Once Muskie was out of the way, character assassination of Thomas Eagleton could begin.

I'm a bit unclear why you linked that Eagleton bio. As an example of character assassination? Does Nixon edit Wikipedia from beyond the grave? Because it says that Eagleton himself (before he became the VP nominee) was the original source of the quote that turned McGovern into the "Amnesty, Abortion, and Acid" candidate. It says he really did suffer from depression, he really did check himself into hospital and receive electroconvulsive therapy twice, that he really was taking the anti-psychotic med thorazine, that he concealed his medical history from McGovern, and that when McGovern found out about Eagleton's issues McGovern consulted psychiatrists (including Eagleton's own) and was advised that "recurrence of Eagleton's depression was possible and could endanger the country should Eagleton become president." If all that shit was planted by Nixon and co. then wow! He one Bad. Dude.

(It also says McGovern's campaign manager was Gary "Monkey Business" Hart, which I didn't know.)
posted by jfuller at 2:12 PM on June 11, 2012


modest degree of professionalism necessary to put the strips of masking tape vertically, along the edge of the door, rather than horizontally, wrapping around the edge and visible from outside

I don't think masking tape would have enough holding strength keep the latch suppressed while in the vertical position. Applying it horizontally with those two 90 degree turns means a good part of the tape will pulled parallel to the surface its sticking to, rather than perpendicular like vertically applied tape would.

It was still a stupid break-in ordered by a very paranoid and dangerous individual who wanted to win an election at all costs.
posted by RonButNotStupid at 2:42 PM on June 11, 2012


I'll use this as background music.

I'm reminded more of this.

I'll also bet that future historians of the 20th century will believe that "Richard Nixon" was the name of a Dick Tracy villain otherwise known as The Jowler.
posted by benito.strauss at 2:52 PM on June 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


zarq: I wonder if, looking back, Nixon will be seen as the true birthplace of both modern American cynicism and apathy about the political process and politicians.

I think it comes and goes in cycles. Nixon certainly inspired a fair bit of disillusionment of America as the great liberator of the post-colonial world. But the early 20th century had a very strong isolationist left, and the machine politics of the 19th century was venomously lampooned on both sides.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 3:25 PM on June 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm sorta with Darth Tedious. How could people of Hunt and Fiorini's experience make such a schoolboy error? Shurely this was a set-up? Anyone?
posted by marienbad at 3:38 PM on June 11, 2012


If Watergate happened today Obama/GOP would call for indictments of Deep Throat & media would cite break-in as proof of Nixon's "toughness"
Here.

Really the Watergate break-in is pretty over-the-top even by the standards of today, and because it targeted one of the major political parties, it would probably get powerful people up in arms, even today.
posted by grobstein at 3:52 PM on June 11, 2012


I'll use this as background music.

I'm reminded more of this yt.


I really thought that you were going to link to THIS.

(I recommend opening another browser with your favourite ambient/chill for that soma-fm NASA-style vibe.)
posted by ovvl at 4:32 PM on June 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


I wonder if, looking back, Nixon will be seen as the true birthplace of both modern American cynicism and apathy about the political process and politicians.

Hunter S Thompson certainly thought so:
By disgracing and degrading the Presidency of the United States, by fleeing the White House like a diseased cur, Richard Nixon broke the heart of the American Dream.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 4:49 PM on June 11, 2012 [4 favorites]


>He was a paranoid vulgar man, he did get some very important legislation in place though.

If you want to preserve accuracy, you can't divorce action from context. It's silly to say "Even Nixon/Reagan/Thatcher/JFK/whomever did X... so it's a contradiction that his/her ideological descendants won't do X today", because X that that person thought or did is specifically rooted in the conditions, political currents, and cultural climate of that time.

Project an individual's temperament into another time and place, as opposed to his or her concrete actions and beliefs, and a different set of actions and beliefs-- actions and beliefs relative to the new time and place-- will manifest.

Richard M. Nixon, still a tortured and paranoid Quaker authoritarian but of presidential age in 2012, would have far more right-wing and Evangelically-influenced policies than the post-WWII Richard M. Nixon of the early 1970s.
posted by darth_tedious at 4:51 PM on June 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


Once Muskie was out of the way, character assassination of Thomas Eagleton could begin.

It's still not clear to me who spilled the beans to McGovern about Eagleton. The FBI had allegedly been cleared, but no hard names as to who was responsible, which in itself is interesting.

I've also read that Democratic operatives were breaking into Republican offices just weeks before Watergate, but damned if I can remember where. Anyone?
posted by IndigoJones at 4:55 PM on June 11, 2012


Oh, for that one you need to bring your own citation.
posted by JHarris at 5:06 PM on June 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


The three pieces of legislation I mentioned are part of his legacy, regardless. I stand by my statement.

As you should. I retract my ill-framed snark. Sorry.
posted by joe lisboa at 5:14 PM on June 11, 2012


Stav, I had forgotten about that Thompson eulogy. Breathtakingly vicious. Thanks for the reminder.
posted by zarq at 5:43 PM on June 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Harper's Bazaar apparently published a rueful, rather introspective account of the Watergate burglary from Eugenio Martinez, one of the burglars:

http://watergate.info/burglary/eugenio-martinez-account-of-watergate-burglary

This elaborate, citation-heavy JFK WTF site offers an interesting overview of the odd threads in Watergate:

http://www.maryferrell.org/wiki/index.php/Watergate

And here's a take from an intel-oriented journalist, spurred by a strange court case resting on charges of slander in Watergate's aftermath-- a case that posed questions of Who Did What and Why in the Watergate affair:

http://www.jimhougan.com/WatergateInquisition.html
posted by darth_tedious at 6:10 PM on June 11, 2012


This reminds me of something I noticed when looking at the official Presidential Portrait engravings at the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, when I visited DC in 1996. Before Nixon, none of the presidents smiled for their portraits. Nixon could be argued to be smirking. But after Nixon, they all smiled. I figured that this was because after Nixon, our innocence was lost, and the public's trust in the president was no longer guaranteed.

A man who smiles at you? He wants you to trust him.

Here are the last ten Presidential Portraits so you can see what I am talking about.

Looks like Obama broke the chain. What that means, I'm not sure. Maybe it means nothing.
posted by marble at 6:19 PM on June 11, 2012 [4 favorites]


And because the Democrats nominated George McGovern.

The original point of the dirty tricks campaign was to get the strong potential Democratic candidates (including e.g. Muskie) to drop out of the race.
posted by kersplunk at 6:25 PM on June 11, 2012


So many smart people commenting here.
I saw All the President's Men in college. I've seen it several times since.(It's porn for journalism majors) I read the book and I've browsed all the WaPo stuff.

Since Watergate happened before I was born I wasn't sure how Nixon's legacy was viewed by the average person. I thought Watergate and Nixon have been forgotten. I think it's especially been ignored by anyone under 40. I'm glad people still find this interesting.

At the very least, the nice people in charge of Futurama have done a good job at preserving the spirit of Nixon.
posted by hot_monster at 6:43 PM on June 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


Ben Stein: Obama Not That Smart, Nixon a “Genius”
posted by homunculus at 6:55 PM on June 11, 2012


I have two favorite bits of Nixon arcana.

1. is from G. Gordon Liddy's memoir / autobiography Will.

Liddy reports that his breakout performance in the administration was his memo on J. Edgar Hoover and the FBI when Nixon was thinking about firing Hoover. It is a five page history on the FBI and how it began as a creative countermeasure to the bootleggers who had married the machine gun and the automobile to sort of wage warfare on law abiding citizens and that Hoover owed his nearly unimpeachable status to the manner in which he went after the likes of Al Capone and his ilk. His boss told Liddy that his memo came back from the president with A+'s and right after that Liddy became the alpha monkey for any cockamamie scheme they could conceive.

2. is from Seymour Hersh's biography of Kissinger The Price of Power.

Hersh reports that a component of cold war strategy vis a vis' the Russians/Soviets was something they called the Madman Theory; the idea was to communicate that Nixon was actually inclined to do crazy shit at times and you couldn't depend on him to do rational game theory calculation decisions in all circumstances. And they had little turf dances in the meeting rooms where staffers would compete to promote the craziest policy maneuvers to show the Russians the Americans were flat fucking crazy. Hersch claims that the tragic Nigeria-Biafra debacle was an example where Kissinger encouraged millions of casualties basically just for the fuck of it.

I doubt the reliability of either of these stories but they were compelling as shit when I read them.

Amazon reports Hersh's book is out of print and you can get a used copy for a penny. It is most definitely worth it.
posted by bukvich at 8:52 PM on June 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Here are the last ten Presidential Portraits so you can see what I am talking about.

Hah. Bush I, that evil old turd, is positively beaming.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 9:17 PM on June 11, 2012


Don't you mean "Watergategate"?
posted by pompomtom at 10:00 PM on June 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


I told you so.

I told you so.

Give me back my bellbottoms.
posted by mule98J at 10:35 PM on June 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Ben Stein: Obama Not That Smart, Nixon a “Genius”

I am sure there is no one more capable of an objective judge of the relative intelligence of these two men. FEH.
posted by JHarris at 12:03 AM on June 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


JHarris: " I am sure there is no one more capable of an objective judge of the relative intelligence of these two men. FEH."

Stein's been desperately trying to revise Nixon's legacy for years. His favorite drum to beat is that Nixon was a peacemaker, and that the worst thing he ever did was lie to the American people to protect his subordinates. Corruption, cover-ups, antisemitism and Nixon's other machinations and character flaws are being diminished in scope to "lies."

Here's his latest, a response to the joint Bernstein and Woodward op ed at the top of this post.

Also see:
"Deep Throat and Genocide"
"What Would Nixon Do?"


Benny Andajetz: "BUT, he gave us the EPA."

He gave us the EPA, while privately noting that if he hadn't done so, Congress would have forced through more liberal environmental policies, as well as saying that environmentalists wanted to "go back and live like a bunch of damned animals. Plus:
His policy preferences also indicated a conflicted eagerness to please opinion-making elites. They praised his establishment of an Environmental Protection Agency, launched with an inspiring speech: "the 1970s absolutely must be the years when America pays its debts to the past by reclaiming the purity of its air, its water, and our living environment. It is literally now or never." But he shared his true opinion of the issue in an Oval Office meeting auto executives: that environmentalists wanted to "go back and live like a bunch of damned animals." Throwing conservationists a bone also suited another political purpose: the issue was popular among the same young people who were enraged at him for continuing the Vietnam War. In the end, the EPA was a sort of confidence game. The new agency represented not a single new penny in federal spending for the environment. It did, however, newly concentrate bureaucracies previously scattered through vast federal bureaucracy under a single administrator loyal to the White House—the better to control them.
In addition to all of this, he gave Republicans a nice distracting boogeyman to bash during election years, forcing Democrats to respond on their terms. The recurring motif: "The evil EPA is yet another example of big government trying to control your lives. Let's shut it down!" But let's face it, no administration is ever going to be stupid enough to try to close down the EPA completely. Too many people still alive remember heaps of garbage and real environmental dangers.

No, the real message there is twofold:
1) For the voters: The US government is too big and corrupt and Republicans are needed to trim it down. Plus, Democrats care more about animal rights than people who can actually vote.
2) For the EPA, and Democrats, who actually care about environmental issues: We can prevent you from doing anything meaningful for the environment. Focus on that for a while. Take time to respond to it. Meanwhile, we'll pushing reforms that matter to us.
posted by zarq at 7:14 AM on June 12, 2012 [5 favorites]


Great articles here. Thanks for posting them.
posted by harriet vane at 7:43 PM on June 12, 2012


Watergate 40 Years Later: The Lessons of Watergate Do Not Belong to Us Charles P. Pierce, Esquire Politics blog.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 7:26 AM on June 15, 2012 [3 favorites]


How a dead dog came back to bite Richard Nixon's Watergate conspirators: Nixon operatives Bob Haldeman and John Ehrlichman pioneered their dirty tricks on the UCLA campus – baiting reds like me
posted by homunculus at 4:45 PM on June 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


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