Watergate: 40 years later - "Nixon far worse than we thought"
Watergate: 40 years later - "Nixon far worse than we thought" - that's the evaluation offered by Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein in their first joint byline article in 36 years. I was fascinated to learn that June 18, 1972 was the FIRST LEGAL Father's Day in our US since President Richard Nixon had signed the law after Congress passed the bill on April 25, 1972. That FIRST LEGAL Father's Day as the news report of the WATERGATE BREAK-IN hit the news! What do YOU remember about the "WATERGATE SCANDAL"?
I was blessed with a meaningful and enjoyable Father’s Day yesterday, were YOU? And then, I was surprised and interested to review the special feature which the Washington Post has developed, “Watergate” focusing on the 40 years since the infamous “Watergate break-in” which led to the first resignation of a US President in US history. Since it was FATHER’S DAY, I wondered about the date of FATHER’S DAY in 1972 – it was Sunday, June 18, 1972 – yes, 40 years ago TODAY.
I was surprised to learn that it was the FIRST US FATHER’S DAY provided for by US LAW! US President Richard M. Nixon had signed the bill passed by Congress on April 25, 1972 so that Sunday, June 18, 1972 was the first LEGAL Father’s Day in our US! SURPRISED?! I WAS! What do YOU think?
Having learned the basic legal background of Father’s Day, I searched and searched for more specific information. Eventually I found a report in the June 19, 2010 Christian Science Monitor, “Who is Father’s Day founding father? (Think, ‘security break.’)” You may want to access the article using the link above for more information.
I am going to cite the basic reflection by Peter Grier, CSMonitor staff writer on that FIRST LEGAL Father’s Day in our USA, “That’s where Dick Nixon comes in. At the time, his reelection campaign was ratcheting up, and we’ll bet this looked like a political no-brainer. In response to Congress, on April 25, 1972, he issued a proclamation that officially made the third Sunday in June “an occasion for renewal of the love and gratitude we bear to our fathers.
“But in the Nixon household, that year’s Father’s Day was not happy.
“First of all, America’s first dad was familyless. He was in Key Biscayne, Fla. His wife was in Los Angeles. His daughters were elsewhere. (Press accounts of the day note that the girls called.)
“This was probably just as well. Sunday, June 18, 1972 – the first government-sanctioned Father’s Day in United States history – was the day news broke about a burglary the previous night at the Democratic National Committee office in the Watergate complex.”
This is the first time I realized the relationship between the Watergate Break-in and the first LEGAL Father’s Day in the US. How about you?
If you need to review the Watergate Scandal situation and development, use this link for Wikipedia’s feature article, “Watergate Scandal.”
The Washington Post has been informing its readers that the 40th anniversary of Watergate would be on Sunday, the 17th of June, 2012 through a feature section, “Watergate.” I encourage you to access this special section using the link. The special section has very interesting videos and photo features, including: “Watergate scandal key players” and “What else was happening in 1972?” (Alert JANESVILLE GM PEOPLE – the first picture is the General Motors’ 1972 Chevy Vega. I think it was a beautiful car. What do YOU think?)
One of the MOST significant reflections on Watergate 40 years later is the feature article by Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward, “Woodward and Bernstein: 40 years after Watergate, Nixon was far worse than we thought.” This is their FIRST joint byline in 36 years!
The lead on their reflective feature Op-ed article is, “As Sen. Sam Ervin completed his 20-year Senate career in 1974 and issued his final report as chairman of the Senate Watergate committee, he posed the question: ‘What was Watergate?’"
They assert, “Countless answers have been offered in the 40 years since June 17, 1972, when a team of burglars wearing business suits and rubber gloves was arrested at 2:30 a.m. at the headquarters of the Democratic Party in the Watergate office building in Washington. Four days afterward, the Nixon White House offered its answer: ‘Certain elements may try to stretch this beyond what it was,’ press secretary Ronald Ziegler scoffed, dismissing the incident as a ‘third-rate burglary.’"
They conclude, “History proved that it was anything but. Two years later, Richard Nixon would become the first and only U.S. president to resign, his role in the criminal conspiracy to obstruct justice — the Watergate coverup — definitively established.”
I was interested to see that our Milwaukee Journal Sentinel published the same feature Op-ed article last Saturday, June 16, using the title, “Nixon’s five wars.” That title comes from the outline used by Woodward and Bernstein citing 5 “wars” which Nixon waged.
Those 5 wars are:
1. The war against the antiwar movement. 2. The war on the news media 3. The war against the Democrats 4. The war on justice 5. The war on history
I encourage you to read the whole feature Op-ed article to gain the information and perspectives which Woodward and Bernstein offer us as we reflect back 40 years now. I distinctly remember those years. Do YOU? What do YOU remember in particular? What LESSONS do YOU think WE THE PEOPLE of the US have learned from the “Watergate Scandal”? What LESSONS do YOU think WE THE PEOPLE of the US have yet to learn from the “Watergate Scandal”? I’ll be reading your comments with interest!
Another source of reporting which I found informative is our “VOICE OF AMERICA.” This is the official US communications agency speaking to the whole wide world about US – WE THE PEOPLE and United States government. There are strict legal limits on its broadcasting within the US.
If you are interested in more background information re. VOA, I urge you to review the website for “Public Diplomacy Council” which is a non-profit organization “committed to the importance of the academic study, professional practice, and responsible advocacy of public diplomacy. Its members believe that understanding, informing, and influencing foreign publics and dialogue between Americans and United States’ institutions and their counterparts abroad are vital to the national interest and core elements of 21st century American diplomacy.” This is a NON-governmental special interest group which has a significant role in keeping tabs on and evaluating the public diplomacy work of our US government.
I gained information and perspective hearing and watching the news reports on the 40th anniversary of Watergate. You may want to listen to and/or watch one of the following:
“US Media, Historians Mark 40th Anniversary of Watergate Scandal” from Voice of America – News USA.
The audio of the VOA Newscast is embedded in the online article.
And there is a complementary video from VOA, “Watergate – Washington’s Biggest Scandal” reported by Suzanne Preston. Valuable footage, including “The Watergate Door” now on display at the Newseum in Washington, DC. YOU can see it on the video! Take a look!
I find it telling to reflect on Woodward and Bernstein’s final evaluation of the situation when US President Richard M. Nixon became the first and only (so far) US President to resign from office both in terms of history and our political culture, “The Watergate that we wrote about in The Washington Post from 1972 to 1974 is not Watergate as we know it today. It was only a glimpse into something far worse. By the time he was forced to resign, Nixon had turned his White House, to a remarkable extent, into a criminal enterprise.
“On the day he left, Aug. 9, 1974, Nixon gave an emotional farewell speech in the East Room to his staff, his friends and his Cabinet. His family stood with him. Near the end of his remarks, he waved his arm, as if to highlight the most important thing he had to say.
“’Always remember,’ he said, ‘others may hate you, but those who hate you don’t win unless you hate them, and then you destroy yourself.’ “His hatred had brought about his downfall. Nixon apparently grasped this insight, but it was too late. He had already destroyed himself.”
What is YOUR assessment? YOUR comment?
Here we go… Mr. E.
John Eyster lives in the Edgerton area. He is an adjunct professor of political science at UW-Waukesha and an advocate for democracy/civics education in Wisconsin high schools. John is a community blogger and is not a part of The Gazette staff. His opinion is not necessarily that of the The Gazette staff or management.