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Watergate Essay, Research Paper


?Watergate is the popular name for the political scandal and constitutional crisis that began with the arrest (June 17, 1972) of five burglars who broke into Democratic National Committee headquarters at the Watergate office building in Washington, D.C.? This was the scandal that ended Nixon?s career as President and changed the way the public looked at him, forever. President Richard M Nixon should not have been allowed to take the easy way out of his own problems by resigning; instead he should have been impeached in front of the people of his country.

Richard Milhous Nixon was born on January 9, 1913 in Yorba Linda, California. He was only 1 of the 5 sons, being the second born. ? Despite the economic difficulties and emotional tensions of the Nixon household, young Richard excelled in school, graduating second in his class from Whittier College (1934) and third in his class from Duke University law school (1937).? When the U.S. was entering WWII Nixon was working in Washington DC. He then joined the navy and became an officer in the South Pacific. When he returned he got into politics becoming the Republican candidate for congress in California?s 12th District. This is what started his political career.

The next big milestone in Nixon?s political career would be the Vice-presidency. The President at this time was Eisenhower. Although Nixon was never personally close to his superior, he often covered for him when the President needed it, as a VP would normally do. The most famous account of this is when Eisenhower fell ill as a result of a heart attack, until the President could resume his duties. Due to Nixon?s good work after Eisenhower?s second term was through the Republican Party felt that Nixon was their prime choice for President against the young JFK.

Much to the surprise of Nixon, he had lost the election to a ?lesser-known? opponent. Not by many votes for the most part, only a small margin of about 100,000 votes. Many thought that this would be the end of Nixon?s political life. His next attempt at political office would be for the governor for his home state, California. Not to the surprise of many, he lost the election, and decided to take a break from public life. A few years later he showed up on TV playing the piano. This brought him back in the minds of the people. ?The nomination and overwhelming defeat of Sen. Barry Goldwater as the Republican Presidential candidate in 1964 encouraged Nixon to try again for the presidency in 1968. He obtained the nomination on the first ballot after winning a series of Presidential primaries. This time, partly because the Democratic Party was bitterly divided over the Vietnam War, Nixon won the election, despite an 11th-hour surge by the Democratic nominee, Hubert H. Humphrey, that narrowed Nixon’s final margin to less than 1 percent of the popular vote. ? From then on, Nixon was on his way to the presidency.

From ?zero to hero,? Nixon?s popularity was growing like wildfire. His comeback was one of the most amazing in American political history. Not many have left politics thinking that their career was over then reappearing in the public?s eye running for President. Nixon was a very versatile man he could be fair yet strong, as well as tough but at the same time doing it for all the right reasons. If only his decisions were planned out to be done without a hitch. Maybe we wouldn?t have even known what the leader of the country had done at the Watergate Hotel/office complex. The fact of the matter is that we do know, and he got caught in the act so he should have expected what was coming to him.

?Watergate is a general term used to describe a complex web of political scandals between 1972 and 1974.? To understand how the President took the easy way out of his own problems, you have to know what happened. In 1972 five men were arrested after a hotel security guard found them burglarizing the National Democratic Committee head quarters in the Watergate complex. All five men claimed that they had acted on their own, and there were no outside ties. Later, in early 1973 ?others alleged that they had lied in earlier evidence at the urging of John Dean (counsel to the President) and John Mitchell (Attorney-General). These allegations of a cover-up and obstruction of justice by the highest law officers in the land blew Watergate wide open. ?

When everybody found out about the break-in and of the involvement of high-ranking officials the Senate got together a committee to investigate just what was going on. Nixon can?t believe that it is gone this far, but thankfully, for his sake, nobody was pointing the finger at him, yet. Later, Nixon took John Dean, H.R. Halderman, and John Erlichman (both were close advisers to the President) and told them to resign or be fired. This showed just how selfish Nixon was stabbing his co-workers in the back just to save his own ?butt.? This did not exactly work the way the President had hoped. Nixon assured himself that Dean wouldn?t talk, this also did not work out the way he had planned. Nixon was under the impression that his former counsel would still be loyal to him. Unfortunately, for Nixon, Dean did the total opposite.

As the Senate hearings continue, Alexander Butterfield (former White House aide), discloses information about hidden tapes (Nixon used the tapes to protect himself from others saying he said something that he didn?t) in the Oval Office which contain every conversation spoken in the Presidential office. This information was vital to the cover-up of the scandal. ?Nixon claimed “executive privilege” for the tapes and argued that he should not have to hand them over. Archibald Cox (special Watergate prosecutor) and the Senate Watergate committee request the Supreme Court instruct Nixon to surrender the tapes. ?

With options running out and the blame coming closer and closer towards the Oval Office, Nixon tries to do one of the most desperate moves of all of his political career; that is he tried to fire the special Watergate prosecutor, Archibald Cox. Just the idea that Nixon thinks that being President means that he is above the law is absurd. To comparison it is the same as thinking that police are allowed to speed and break all the traffic laws, just because they are protecting the law; they aren?t. ?Nixon orders the Attorney-General to dismiss the special prosecutor, Archibald Cox. Richardson refuses to do so and resigns. His deputy is sacked for similarly refusing to carry out Nixon’s order. Eventually, the Solicitor-General, Robert Bork, dismisses Cox.?6 Once again, stabbing his administration in the back, he gets other people to do his dirty work.

Under pressure, both from the Supreme Court and his supporters, Nixon releases some of the tapes. One of the tapes had a ?magical? 18 and a half minute gap, how this happened is still one of life?s little mysteries (up there with the life on other planets one). Nixon?s secretary denies deliberately erasing the tape. At this time, people are talking about the impeachment of the President. ?Nixon releases more edited transcripts of tapes. There is public shock at the foul language used by Nixon and the expression “expletive deleted” enters the vocabulary.6? The problem with what Nixon does it that he show everyone that he has something to hide. By not disclosing all of the tapes he is censoring what they hear, and as soon as someone does that it is quite clear that he does have something to hide.

?August 5th 1974: Nixon releases three more tapes that prove he ordered a cover-up of the Watergate burglary on June 23rd 1972, six days after the break-in. The tapes show that he knew of the involvement of White House officials and the Campaign for the Re-election of the President. These tapes become known as the “smoking gun”. The eleven Republicans on the Judiciary Committee who voted against impeachment say they will change their votes. It is clear that Nixon will be impeached and convicted in the Senate. 6? Three days later Nixon resigns, being the first President in American history to do so. Much to the disappointment of many, the newly elected Gerald R Ford dismissed all charges against Ex-President Richard Nixon.

Now that the facts are out in the open, and the blame has been put on the one that it belongs on. One can only wonder if it was all worth it. The fact that so much of the tax payers money was used to pay off the burglars, who eventually were found to be doing only a portion of Nixon?s dirty work anyway. The fact that so many people lost their jobs, when in reality it was just so that Nixon himself could deflect the attention from himself. It just goes to show that nobody, not even the leader of a country is above the law in any way, nor they shouldn?t be either. When Nixon took on the job as President, that gave him a responsibility to be loyal, and truthful to his co-workers and the people of his country. Nixon took the power that the people of the Untied States gave him and just flat out abused it. He tried to do it behind their backs and it is a good thing that he got caught. If he didn?t get caught that would just give him the opportunity to ?push the envelope? further, making it easier to deceive the very constitution that he as President is to abide by. The reason Nixon should have been impeached is to set an example for all ?would-be? Presidents, that if you play with fire you will get burned. Nixon did just that, he played with fire and his whole political career went up in flames.

After Nixon left office he mainly kept out off the public?s eye, ?In retirement Nixon continued to comment, often influentially, on foreign affairs and wrote his memoirs (1978) and several other books.? ?As time passed, Nixon resumed public appearances, traveled abroad on personal diplomatic missions, and seemed rehabilitated politically, but he could never shed the Watergate shadow. He died in New York City on April 22, 1994. A prolific writer, Nixon authored The Real War (1980), Leaders (1982), Real Peace (1983), No More Vietnams (1985), Nineteen Ninety-Nine (1989), and Beyond Peace (1994). ? Nixon was also a mentor to political figures and other people seeking his wisdom. One can only wonder if we ever re-lived the experiences and choices he made as President, thinking everything over and wishing things had been different. Although no one can change the past many can think about the last few thoughts going through Nixon?s head as he passed away.

President Richard M Nixon should not have been allowed to take the easy way out of his own problems by resigning; instead he should have been impeached in front of the people of his country. Richard Nixon fought his way up to the highest political power only to misuse that power and take advantage of the people who voted him in. He lied, he cheated, he got caught. Richard Nixon died knowing that he couldn?t change the past, he couldn?t undo the back stabbing that he caused to people who trusted him and looked up to him. He made himself and his country look bad by allowing him to get away with the wrongs that he caused as President. The wrongs, that can not be out done by the rights. Richard Nixon was a crook.

By Scott McGregor 

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