WATERGATE: A POLITICAL POWDERCAKE, EXPLODING IN PUBLIC CY

  • Category: Miscellaneous
  • Words: 1117
  • Grade: 100
Watergate, the popular name for the political scandal and constitutional crisis which

broke out in 1972 during the presidential reign of Richard Nixon, remains a mysterious

happening even today. Some details, people, events, degrees of involvement, and reasons are

still unresolved. But what began as a third-rate burglary on June 17, 1972 escalated into a full-

blown scandal that had a resounding effect on how many Americans viewed the government of

their country.

        Richard Nixon's presidency and Watergate triggered a first-rate national scandal whose

consequences still colour the nation's politics. It alerted many Americans to the possible

existence of corruption within their ideal, democratic government.



        The many faces, places, and events that formulate Watergate are numerous; as varied as

the theories as to why and how Watergate actually occurred. Mystery and speculation surround

many of the happenings which became "Watergate", a catch-all term of the events surrounding

President Nixon's term of office from 1972-1974.

        On June 17, 1972, a night watchman discovered five burglars in the National Democratic

Headquarters (located in the Watergate Complex) in Washington, D.C. It was discovered that

these burglars (Bernard Barkers, Virgilio Gonzalez, Eugenio Martinez, James McCord, Jr., and

Frank Sturgis) were working on the Committee to Re-Elect the President (which dons the ironic

acronym CREEP). The break-in was actually an attempt to replace recording equipment which

had been planted in the Democratic Headquarters. Judge John Sirica sentenced them, once they

refuse to admit their involvement with CREEP, or indeed CREEP's involvement in the burglary.

The burglars were known to the CREEP committee as "plumbers", as they consistently stopped

leaks to the press about Nixon's presidential plans.

        On the outset of Watergate, Nixon vehemently denies his government's involvement in

this scandal. Taped conversations with the president later show that a desperate cover-up to

conceal Nixon's involvement already began to take place. James McCord, Jr., relates the

involvement of others besides him and his four other "plumbers", and the pressure to plead

guilty from the "others".



        On April 30, 1973, growing media coverage began on Watergate as Nixon accepts

general responsibility for it, but denies specific responsibility. Nixon begins to force the

resignation of his advisors, his Attorney General, and others who had worked on the CREEP

committee. Upon these happenings, cracks began to appear in President Nixon's "sealing" and

cover-ups of Watergate. The mysterious "Deep Throat", jokingly named after a popular

pornographic movie title of the time, became an important press informant that leaked many

details to the press during the height of the Watergate scandal, especially to Washington Post's

reporter Bob Woodward. The identity of Deep Throat still remains a mystery, although

Woodward said of him:

        "...He was risking a great deal professionally. You may assume that

        in the course of this he was not truthful with colleagues and family

        members, and he denied that he had provided information."

        At this time, there was also the production of Nixon's infamous "Enemies' List", which

listed many colleagues that Nixon believed to be his political enemies. There was also a top

secret report, published by Daniel Ellsburg, about another truth that Nixon was trying to cover-

up"“The United States' true involvement in Southeast Asia (Vietnam War). This precipitated

another break-in by the "plumbers", this time to Ellsburg's psychiatrist's office, trying to

discredit him.

        On July 16, 1973, former White House aide Alexander Butterfield testified that Nixon

had been "bugging" his own offices, recording his top-secret conversations about Watergate with

his officials. President Nixon refuses to release these tapes, citing jeapordization of national

security. The release of these tapes would later become the "smoking gun" in the evidence of

the president's true involvement and knowledge of Watergate. These tapes were released on

October 23, 1973. A large portion of a 1972 conversation of Nixon with H. R. Haldeman, one of

Nixon's close aides, was missing mysteriously from these tapes. The president maintained that

the tapes were erased by accident. In the House of Representatives, various bills called for

impeachment of the president, and editorials in various newspapers across America demand the

resignation of Nixon. In a shocking televized question-and-answer show in November 1973,

Nixon fed the American public this infamous line:

        "People have got to know whether or not their president is a crook.

        Well, I am not a crook."



        1974 saw the beginning of impeachment proceedings for Nixon. While he tried to

maintain his dignity and national duties as president, more tapes and transcripts were being

released, all of which pointed to Nixon's involvement in Watergate"“a plot against the

Democratic Party in order to maintain a Republican government in the United States. The

summer of 1974 held the bulk of the impeachment trials, in which Nixon was subpoenaed with

"engaging personally and through his subordinates and agents in the attempt to cover-up

Watergate", "repeatedly engag(ing) in conduct violating the constitutional rights of citizens

(and) impairing the due and proper administration of justice...", and "ignoring the lawful

subpoenas of the House of Representatives". Through the impeachment trial and the release of

this evidence, the final truth came out about Watergate"“the president knew a lot, and he had

known it early.

        So on the evening of August 8, 1974, President Richard Nixon made his resignation

address:

        "I have never been a quitter. To leave office before my term is completed

        is abhorrent to every instinct in my body. But as president, I must put

        the interests of America first. America needs a full-time president, and

        a full-time congress... Therefore, I shall resign the presidency effective

        at noon tomorrow. Vice-president Ford will be sworn in as president

        at that hour in this office."



        Watergate, in essence, became the beginning of the end for Americans' trust in their

government. With the deterioration of their government and their justice system, the American

public began to no longer trust their elected officials.

        Americans are now cynical, placing little or no faith in the words or actions of their

presidents. The criminal, injust overtones of the Watergate scandal made it clear to the average

American voter that the Presidency could not, and should not, be trusted. President Richard

Nixon, when confronted with his own dishonest actions, gave the American people a ridiculous

run-around and played his electors for pitiful ignoramuses. Although his political failure proved

that no one, not even the President, is above the law, the United States lost their timid hopes and

much-needed faith in their politicians and elected officials. Watergate became the legacy of

buried hopes for an honest and uncorrupt government.

        "The downturn came to a climax with Watergate. Americans saw a presidency

        disintegrate before their eyes, criminal conspiracies at the highest level of

        government, and a president driven out of office."



        Richard Nixon's presidency and Watergate triggered a first-rate national scandal whose

consequences still colour the nation's politics. It alerted many Americans to the possible

existence of corruption within their ideal, democratic government. What started as a third-rate

burglary ended in a modern American tragedy, corrupting a President, a government, and an

idealism to which the American voter clung.



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