Watergate 40 Years Later

CHUCK COLSON: Well, we did a little dirty trick this evening…

PRESIDENT NIXON: Of course, everybody should say, “We expect the Harris Poll to show a 10-point closing.” Is that what you did?

COLSON: No. What we did is we had someone from the Chicago Tribune Syndicate phone Gary Hart and tell him the spread is going to be 19 points and it’s great news for McGovern because he’s gaining rapidly. I hope that he will go out and have a press conference and talk about the closing of the polls just before the damn thing hits Monday showing — (laughter)

PRESIDENT NIXON: 27 (points).

COLSON: It’ll sandbag him. Jesus, it’ll sandbag him.

PRESIDENT NIXON: Sandbag them always. That’s right.

– October 7, 1972, The Oval Office

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The 1972 burglary of the Democratic National Committee headquarters soon exposed an abuse of presidential power so egregious, so dismissive of our laws and mores that the President was eventually forced to resign and multiple reforms of U.S. laws and institutions were undertaken.

Comes now the 2012 presidential election, fully 40 years after the scandal. And what of those laws and reforms?

Bush issued executive orders (post-9/11) claiming the White House may ignore U.S. laws and international treaties; Dick Cheney not only authorized torture, he bragged about it 1; the Bush White House authorized and implemented blanket wire-tapping of its own citizens, eviscerating 1978’s FISA, a practise still in use by the Obama White House; the Obama White House expanded Bush’surveillance society by authorizing drones to operate over American soil and have actively used the tools to remotely spy (at the very least) on the OWS movement; with Citizens United SCOTUS gutted campaign finance reform and rolled out the red carpet for corporations to buy elections, which empowered the lower-courts and the FEC to whole-sale just make up new channels through which bidniz cash can funnel to chosen political candidates; Congress neutered the special prosecutors by relegating them to Justice’s loving oversight.

40 years later we have a presidential candidate who all but calls for a return to slavery, a congressional candidate who believe there are legitimate and illegitimate forms of rape, a political party so intent of holding power they attempt maneuvers to subvert our right to vote that make Colsen’s burglars seem like bumbling amateurs. 2

Where, I wonder, is the outrage?

Where is the demand to throw the rascals out? Where are the marches on DC? Where are the peaceful demonstrations, the sit-ins, the demands for reform? Where is our national nerve?

Where will the nation be another 40 years on?

Frankly, it doesn’t bear contemplation.

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Show 2 footnotes

  1. Something Nixon, certainly not the most ethical president we’ve even had, would have never condoned.
  2. In all fairness, Chucks’ crew was pretty much incompetent.

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