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Watergate Daze

Seems like not that long ago, we were seeing and hearing an intense investigation on network TV as to what the President of the United States was up to. Because it involved an attempted break-in at a famous Washington hotel, the whole affair was called Watergate, the name of the hotel. Seems some burglars attempted to break into the party headquarters of the Democratic Party to steal some secrets relevant to the upcoming election. Dismissed initially as a cheap burglary attempt, it set up as the start of the downhill slide that made President Richard Nixon quit the office.
I distinctly remember college political science professors acting freaked out and blown away with what was coming out of Washington. Everybody else was too, for that part. It was a full-scale embarrassment that shooed elected Republicans out of office for quite a few years afterwards. Senators Sam Ervin of North Carolina and Howard Baker of Tennessee were selected to head a select committee to find out the facts about what happened when, and who knew what that wasn’t shedding light. There were plenty who were speaking about what they knew. Among them were John Dean, John Mitchell and other high-ranking officials of the Nixon White House. All the while, Nixon was sliding into his own nervous breakdown. There had been recordings of conversations on the phone and otherwise. Those tapes were brought before committee. Most notable was a 22 minute gap in the recordings, attributed to Nixon secretary Rosemary Woods.
Committee member Senator Daniel Inouye of Hawaii got to the point where he said that, based on what he had heard thus far, that the President should resign. The press went on a publishing/broadcasting binge of joy with that one, especially when it was remembered that Inouye was a Republican.
Most memorable were the reactions of Howard Baker to comments by various people, reciting various doings and sayings of Nixon. He was getting his faith shattered there on national TV. He believed in Nixon the man, Nixon the President, all that. But he was hearing testimony that shattered all reason for his confidence in his party’s leader. Senator Ervin even came up with a New Testament verse that seemed to apply-as ye sow, so shall ye reap.
Watergate was a wrenching blow to American confidence in its supreme leader. Never again would people follow so blindly a man who won an election, any election. It shattered the faith that one person could be so good, so heroic. Coming up in August is the 40th anniversary of the first, and thus far the only, resignation from the office of the President of the United States.
The whole thing seems like a bad dream. That’s why I call it Watergate Daze.

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