By: Roderick T. Beaman

The fortieth anniversary of the Watergate burglary just passed. It’s been all over the internet and the newscasts. Robert Woodward and Carl Bernstein are taking their bows once again over their roles as the relentless cub reporters who pursued the story and scooped it for The Washington Post with The New York Times left red-faced. It was the chance of a lifetime to destroy the presidency of the man that all good liberals viscerally hated and The Times had muffed it. 

In 1968, I had voted for Richard Nixon and would again in 1972. During that summer, the Watergate burglary was just a blip on the national consciousness. More of the nation’s political attention was focused on the race for the Democratic nomination. 

After Robert Kennedy’s assassination in 1968, George McGovern declared himself his heir and was widely viewed as the likely 1972 Democratic nominee but an unexpected bump had emerged in the form of segregationist George Wallace who scored a string of surprising victories in the Democratic primaries. The possibility of a Wallace presidential nomination horrified the Democratic national leadership but his campaign was halted in an attempted assassination in Maryland that left him paralyzed; McGovern went on to the nomination and an historic electoral defeat, taking just Massachusetts and The District of Columbia. The Watergate break-in occurred just about a month after the Wallace shooting. 

As that summer wore on, Watergate blossomed but really didn’t bloom as an issue until after the November election. By the following summer, it was everywhere. One revelation followed the other, culminating in Nixon’s resignation in August 1974. 

After the resignation, the media looked up from Nixon’s political corpse and chortled, congratulating itself, as if it had stopped a demon unparalleled in American history. What they never mentioned was the part that the visceral hatred between Nixon and the media played in their pursuit, yet surely that hatred played a significant role. Never again would they permit such contempt from a president and they’ve never had to. 

It wasn’t just about Watergate, though. It concerned the entire matter of the organized cover-up which he likely engineered or, at least ordered (I’m still not sure which) and there were other things, many of them unrelated but unearthed during the investigations and hearings. There was a milk fund scandal that received some attention and there were illegal campaign finance contributions including one that resulted in the conviction of New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner, a Democrat. There was the burglarizing of the office of Daniel Ellsberg’s psychiatrist and many other mini-scandals.

I got the feeling early on though, and I think numerous others did, that the scandal would result in Nixon’s resignation. In the years since that epochal event, there have been numerous books and a movie, ‘All The President’s Men,’ based on the eponymously titled book, starring Robert Redford, Dustin Hoffman and Jason Robards as Washington Post editor Ben Bradlee, who took home an Oscar for best Supporting Actor. 

Bradlee, for his part, was a liberal and personal friend of John F. Kennedy. In the movie, he’s lionized, shown saying to Redford and Hoffman, "Print it," meaning the piece of the story they had just unearthed. 

So the scenario was of an actor, we may presume a liberal, portraying a liberal editor of one of the most liberal newspapers in te country, telling two reporters, we may also presume were liberals, played by two Hollywood liberals (Redford even admitting that he had despised Nixon from the time they had met when he was a high school student in Van Nuys) to print a story reflecting badly on an administration they hated. Why those must have been acting challenges worthy of Laurence Olivier! 

But after all is said and done, no one has ever brought into focus the entire series of events. No one has ever really, convincingly, determined exactly why those burglars were there, yet the media applauded themselves on their job. There have been all sorts of theories including that John Dean had orchestrated the entire affair to have some deleterious information connecting his wife, Maureen, to a prostitution ring, removed from the office, according to’ Silent Coup.’ In ‘Family of Secrets’ Russ Baker argues that the George H. W. Bush was involved in a silent coup to oust Nixon. The intertwinings of power are so byzantine so, who knows? 

Many were repulsed by the depths to which the Nixon White House and the Committee to Re-elect the President, CREEP (talk about appropriate acronyms), had stooped. People were appalled that the Administration had used various government agencies against its enemies. In fact, it had an ‘enemies list’ and Barbra Streisand and Joe Namath were on it. The White House had tried to use the CIA to block the FBI’s investigation (again, or was it the other way round & does it matter?) 

The big unaddressed point in the whole sordid affair, was would it have all been possible if we hadn’t had the power invested in the presidency and the federal government that we did? And, of course, that power has grown exponentially since then. It is far worse today and thus affording far more opportunity for these things; just ask Nat Hentoff. 

And, of course, as so many have said, Nixon just got caught. Administrations had been using government agencies against opponents since Franklin D. Roosevelt as had other administrations ever since then. FDR had the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) reject the license renewal application of a small Catholic radio station in the midwest that had been critical of him. John Kennedy did the same thing and Lyndon Johnson did it, too; big time. So, it’s hardly new. 

Yes, it was the very existence of power that was at the core of Watergate, not simply Nixon, as reprehensible as he might have been. (Personally, I am not too sure how reprehensible Nixon really was given what has been uncovered about Lyndon Johnson, the Kennedys, Bushes, the Clintons, the CIA, etc. since. Was he unique in American history and just one example of the descent into evil of one aberrant or just another permutation of the type of person to seek power over others? I think the latter.) 

It’s important to realize that the very same cast of characters who feigned such horror were the same ones who had been applauding the concentration of power in the federal government throughout the entire twentieth century. Acton’s lesson seems lost on them. You can’t have it both ways; you can’t celebrate it on the one hand and then decry it on the other, when it’s used in a way you don’t like. Power is evil, not just Nixon or Kennedy or FDR, etc.

But there won’t be a single commentator, Democrat or Republican, liberal or conservative, who will actually come out and say it. Not one of them will look at Washington, DC and say the honest thing; it should be scaled down, it is out of hand. It would be refreshing if someone actually did but no one will.

So while the pundits all ooh and aah over the wonderful job done by these relentless reporters, these pursuers of the truth, astride their white steeds of righteousness, defeating the gargantuan evils of Richard Nixon, I’ll be out in the bathroom, throwing up. None of them will address this most central issue of our nation. None of them will raise this central question. It probably won’t even occur to them. 

When all is said & done, they love reveling and cavorting in those hallways of power, rubbing elbows with the elite. It feeds their egos. Woodward, Bernstein, Bradlee; their lives would have been meaningless were government reduced to the proper size. 

That’s the central point. Anyone care to give odds that it will be addressed?

"Published originally at EtherZone.com : republication allowed with this notice and hyperlink intact."

Dr. Roderick T. Beaman is an osteopathic family physician practicing in Jacksonville, Florida. Born in New York City, he attended New York University as an undergraduate. A recipient of a 2003 Ron Paul Liberty in Media Award, he has had dreams (delusions?) of becoming a writer. He has written a novel that he has given up hope of ever getting published and so has made it available for the asking through TheFreedomBeam@comcast.net.  He is a regular columnist for Ether Zone.

He can be reached at: TheFreedomBeam@comcast.net

in the JULY 8, 2012 issue of  Ether Zone.
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