It is June seventeenth once again. Every year it comes around I think of it's historical significance. For me the date stands out as one of the most important dates in twentieth century America history. For me I get much the same feeling as I do on June sixth, August sixth, eighth and ninth, December seventh among many others. On June 17, 1972 one of the dumbest political events in history occurred. Seven men were arrested inside the Watergate Hotel complex in the Democratic Headquarters that housed the office of Democratic Chairman Lawrence O'Brien. That was forty years ago and it seems that the date is starting to fade from the memories of the American people to a point that equals the interest it produced on the day it happened.
When the break-in occurred, it was given little press. Nobody thought much about it, and they shouldn't have. It was a stupidly conceived plot thought up by an over zealous committee to re-elect President Nixon. The silly part is that President Nixon did not need any such covert operations to be re-elected. It was a no brainer that the President would be re-elected. The polls all showed it, His approval rating was high, He was in the process of negotiating peace with honor in Vietnam and had already begun bringing troops home. the President was a foreign affairs genius and was on track to end the war that President Johnson had escalated during the sixties.
The President was told about the break-in the day after it happened and was stunned and surprised at the stupidity of the operation. He and his staff immediately began to brainstorm on how to contain this so that it would not do exactly what it ended up doing.
A short history on what led to June 17, 1972 might help understand where the Nixon administration was coming from when the news hit. The liberal press had been looking for anything to pin on the President. His political career was supposed to have ended with his loss in the California Governor's race in 1962. The press had hounded Nixon throughout that campaign and succeeded in getting the former Vice-President defeated. Nixon would fade off into the history books like so many before him.
The Vietnam War, however , doomed President Johnson's chance of re-election in 1968 and after dropping out, both parties found that they did not have a really strong candidate to run for President. The Republicans decided to ask Richard Nixon to make another run for the highest office in the land. Nixon agreed, and with the help of a third party run by Alabama Governor George Wallace defeated Hubert Humphrey and the man whose political career was once dead was now at the top of the heap.
Shortly after Nixon took office, professional liberal Daniel Ellsberg stole Top Secret Classified papers and gave them to the New York Times, who wasted no time in putting the security of the nation in peril by printing the now famous "Pentagon Papers." This was the true beginning of Watergate. Of course the press lauded Mr. Ellsberg and he was almost a national hero for leaking top secret documents. It was at this time that the People who worked for the President decided to find out more about Ellsberg and broke into his psychiatrists office to see if they could find anything to discredit this new hero. It was the first operation of the plumbers unit of the committee to re-elect the President, otherwise known as CREEP. The committee which was headed by former Attorney General John Mitchell prepared a plan to break into Democratic Headquarters. When the first break in did not deliver any helpful information, a second break-in was set for June 17, 1972. They were caught and arraigned and if the press had not been so desperate to get anything on Nixon, they started digging. True the idea that they could get Nixon on something did not catch on for a while until the Washington Post kept pushing and blowing things out of proportion that the rest of the liberal press followed.
Nixon had a taping system in his office and, to me anyway, the tapes show that Nixon did not actually break any laws. He thought aloud of things that they could do that would be illegal, but most times said aloud that it would be wrong to do those things.
Nixon continued to try to run the country and end the war in Vietnam but was being slowed by the constant attacks from the press and then the congress. Throughout the investigation, the President cooperated as best as he could without risking national security. He complied with all subpenas, turning over transcripts of the tapes, the tapes themselves and ordered his staff to tell the truth in the investigation. He fired those of his staff who the press had somehow tied to the crime which had magically turned from a stupid break-in to a coverup of the worst kind.
Eventually, the press had succeeded in forcing Nixon to resign the Presidency on August 9, 1974. It was one of the saddest days in our history. Nixon, however, until the very end decided to do what was best for the country. Thus came the resignation instead of an Senate trial. Historical revisionists even say that Nixon was impeached, when actually he wasn't. He did what ended up being best for the country before an impeachment vote in the house could be taken. He sacrificed his dignity and the overwhelming success of his foreign policy for the good of the country that he loved. The press had won again.
Since that time, when Nixon had not broken any laws, yet was forced out of office, we have had a president who committed perjury to a federal grand jury, which is a felony. This president lied to the American people over and over again. This President opened himself up to the possibility of blackmail by doing immoral acts within the White House and making foreign heads of state to wait until he was finished with his immorality. This President put the country through an impeachment and Senate trial, and despite all of the proof of perjury, pay offs, and just being a totally immoral man, was acquitted in the Senate on a strictly partisan vote that Democrats have become famous for. President Clinton should have been shown the back door of the White House without question if the Nixon resignation is used as the benchmark for Presidents being worthy of office by acting immorally in office.
It is either an indictment on the Democratic party for being partisan on everything, or it is a sign that our country is on a slide downhill that will slowly eat this country from within. Either way , it isn't good.