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Early summer, 1973. Saturday morning. I'm standing in our basement watching my mother load the washing machine with my mouth hanging down my chin. I had just asked her what was all the "court stuff" on TV, and where were my cartoons? "They're holding a trial to see if the President has broken the law and needs to go to jail" was her answer and hence, my little 9-year-old mind was blown. I was hooked.

Fast Forward - Spring 1976

After having watched the Watergate hearings that summer of '73, and reading all the newspaper and magazine accounts i could get my hands on, I eagerly gobbled up the paperback copy of "All The President's Men" that came out just before the film. It was one of those copies that had Redford & Hoffman on the cover and included their pictures and other pictures from the film along with the usual pictures in the book. So much time has passed, I can no longer figure out what made a bigger impact on me, the book or the film, but i carried that battered paperback copy with me through life until recently when I lost my house and belongings due to poverty..

My mother was a big Robert Redford fan, taking my sister and me to see most of his movies, The Hot Rock and Three Days Of The Condor among them. However, I've seen "President's Men" so many times over the years, I can no longer remember the first time I saw the movie in theaters. With full disclosure out of the way, let's get to the book itself.

This is one of great detective stories of all time, a real page turner. Beginning with the evening the "Plumbers" were arrested after breaking into the Democratic National Headquarters in the upscale apartment complex in Washington D.C. called "The Watergate", the book relates how reporters Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward came to investigate a concerted effort by the Nixon administration and the Nixon re-election committee (CRP, referred to as CREEP) to sabotage the Democratic Party and its candidates for President and Vice-President.

Their first break came when Bernstein discovered a check made out to Kenneth H. Dahlberg and signed over to the bank account of a Mexican lawyer that one of the burglers, Bernard Barker, had access to and withdrew money from.

Pg. 44
"I know I shouldn't tell you this", Dahlberg resumed
Tell me, Woodward thought. Tell me.
"Okay, I'll tell you. At a meeting in Washington of the [campaign] committee, I turned the check over either to the treasurer of the committee [Hugh W. Sloan] or to Maurice Stans himself"
Woodward couldn't wait to get off the line. Stans was Nixon's chief fundraiser and CRP's finance chairman
Talking to the committee employees as well as contacts in the government who were investigating the increasingly disturbing events leading up to the break-in, the reporters had to fight employee's fear and paranoia about speaking out on illegal activities of which they had knowledge.
Pg. 62
About five o'clock, the woman telephoned Bernstein. She sounded almost hysterical. "I'm in a phone booth. When I got back from lunch, I got called into somebody's office and confronted with the fact that I had been seen talking to a Post reporter. They wanted to know everything. It was high up; that's all you have to know. I told you they were following me. Please don't call me again or come to see me"

(Oh, c'mon, you knew I was going to go there)

Woodstein, as they came to be know in the newsroom, uncovered by accident a new term in American politics. Ratfucking got its start on the campus of University of
Southern California, where many of the men working in the administration had gone to school. It was basically political sabotage against your opponent, and until the Nixon administration, it had not been carried out on a national level ever before.

Pg. 128
The word struck a raw nerve with a Justice Department attorney. "You can go right to the top with that one" I was shocked when i learned about it. I couldn't believe it. These are public servants?...Men who run the government!"...It's completely immoral..."The press hasn't brought that home. You're dealing with people who act like this was Dodge City, not the capital of the United States"

Their biggest break came with conversations Bob Woodward had with an acquaintance he called Deep Throat. A man who wouldn't become known until over 20 years later.

Pg. 130
On evenings such as those, Deep Throat had talked about how politics had infiltrated every corner of government--a strong arm takeover of agencies by the Nixon White House....He had once called it the "switchblade mentality"
Next, they learned a former Post reporter, Ken Clawson, who now worked in the administration, had written the "Canuck Letter". This letter brought about the end of the Presidential campaign of then Senator, Edmund Muskie.
pg. 143
"Intelligence work" is normal during a campaign and is said to be carried out by both political parties. But federal investigators said what they uncovered being done by the Nixon forces is unprecedented in scope and intensity
And so, the reporters kept on uncovering unsettling activities and following the trail up the chain of command in the administration.
Pg. 336
On January 30, the President delivered his annual state of the union message to a joint session of the House and Senate....The President said, "I want you to know that I have no intention whatever of ever walking away from the job that the American people elected me to do for the people of the United States."

Richard M. Nixon resigned from office on August 9, 1974.

It's my belief that our country is still dealing with the consequences of the Nixon administration regarding what has become "acceptable" behavior in political campaigns. It is the reason I will never trust a Republican. Or vote for one.

A lot of talk has been done lately about bullying. Bullies bully to intimidate, yes. But they also bully in order to cover up, whether it's inner demons or illegal or immoral activities. Unfortunately, Californian politicians seem to have led the pack when it came to unscrupulous behavior on the campaign trail or in office (as goes California...)

Linky Goodness

Originally posted to Readers and Book Lovers on Fri May 25, 2012 at 05:00 AM PDT.

Also republished by Community Spotlight.


What's your favorite Political Scandal?

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| 79 votes | Vote | Results

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Comment Preferences

  •  Required reading (8+ / 0-)

    In High school government class. I hope it still is. Haven't read it since then, but Watergate did lead to the only presidential resigination in history.

    I voted other because I liked reading about the Teapot Dome Scandal in US History.

    The Spice must Flow!

    by Texdude50 on Fri May 25, 2012 at 05:06:55 AM PDT

  •  Really (7+ / 0-)

    I can understand very well how the Watergate scandal has colored your perception of politics.  But then there's this.

    Unfortunately, Californian politicians seem to have led the pack when it came to unscrupulous behavior on the campaign trail or in office (as goes California...)
    Aside from Nixon, who is this supposed to refer to?

    If that isn't what you meant, maybe an edit is in order.

    -7.75, -8.10; All it takes is security in your own civil rights to make you complacent.

    by Dave in Northridge on Fri May 25, 2012 at 05:29:03 AM PDT

  •  The Book That Changed My Life (6+ / 0-)

    I was a freshmen in college. I took this lit class. I hated it. But I was so cheap I didn't sell back the books, cause well the college bookstore only wanted to give me pennies on the dollar for what I paid.

    Years later I pick up one of the books, Lost in the Funhouse, by John Barton (very strange shit BTW) and read it. It was the first book I'd ever read. I couldn't put it down. I might have now have read like 1,000 other books.

    When opportunity calls pick up the phone and give it directions to your house.

    by webranding on Fri May 25, 2012 at 05:29:26 AM PDT

  •  I spent that summer getting up (9+ / 0-)

    at 6 a.m. to watch the hearing as they began West Coast time and waited for the newsweeklies to put what I'd seen in perspective. I was in high school. Nixon came to our town weeks before he resigned to open World Expo '74. I stood for the office but refused to applaud him.

    Watergate and Vietnam had a lot to do with lack of trust in national discourse and political behavior. And the bullies are in full force this election.

  •  Good discussion, blueoregon! (5+ / 0-)

    Thanks for your review of this book. I assume it was from reading this book and viewing the film that you decided you would never trust a Republican or vote for one, so that's why the book changed your life.

    "Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich."--Napoleon

    by Diana in NoVa on Fri May 25, 2012 at 06:07:38 AM PDT

    •  Well, my dad was a republican (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ladybug53, boudi08, mumtaznepal

      a typical archie bunker bigot. My maternal grandfather was a New Deal Democrat, i was closer to my grandfather so i grew up with a bad opinion of republicans. And life has proven me correct.

      "Such is the irresistible nature of truth that all it asks, and all it wants, is the liberty of appearing." - Thomas Paine

      by blueoregon on Fri May 25, 2012 at 08:16:34 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I remember snapping up that paperback as (6+ / 0-)

    soon as it was available ... I no longer have my copy, but I remember referring back to it many times in pre-internet days.

    As a kid in the 60s, I knew without a doubt what a jackass Nixon was ... my mother would hold forth loudly and fluently on his past, present, and probable future every time his face appeared on TV! Watergate started when I was in high school, and it was hard to take in and remember all the nuances, so the book was a great way to pull it all together. When I first moved the Twin Cities, and stumbled across Dahlberg Drive ... I had to pull out the battered paperback to verify, "oh, THAT Dahlberg."

    On another note, the book beat to death the need to verify! verify! verify! sources and facts. That is something people could take to heart today.

    Thanks for the diary, triggers a lot of thoughts.

    "If you are sure you understand everything that is going on around you, you are hopelessly confused." Walter Mondale

    by klompendanser on Fri May 25, 2012 at 07:19:17 AM PDT

    •  Good point. ATPM is a story about good reporting, (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      about reporters convincing their editor - and newspaper owner ("get her tit in a wringer") to support them, without doubt.

      It was ... awesome when it occurred.  You couldn't believe it.  Thank goodness Woodstein were persistent!

      2012: the Year of the Voting Woman. And by the way, Republicans ... we're pretty pissed about what you've done to our country. Republican Party Motto: "Tax the poor, gift the rich"

      by mumtaznepal on Fri May 25, 2012 at 11:54:56 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Great book, really. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    My favorite scandal is Teapot Dome, tho.

    Critical Thinking: The Other National Deficit.

    by cultjake on Fri May 25, 2012 at 07:30:16 AM PDT

  •  Hey, you forgot... (4+ / 0-)

    the entire run-up to the most recent Iraq war and subsequent lack of prosecution of the criminals starting it.  Tonkin Gulf is the only one that resulted in more deaths.

    My first political memories are of my dad driving me to kindergarten every morning in his brand new 442 and listening to the latest Watergate news on AM.  Except when we were driving under power lines.

    "Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean there isn't an invisible demon about to eat your face" & "Polka will never die." - H. Dresden.

    by bnasley on Fri May 25, 2012 at 07:55:05 AM PDT

  •  I can't tell you how many times I read that book (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    blueoregon, ladybug53, barbwires

    I was trying to take a summer organic chemistry class the summer of the watergate hearings - a year's worth of chem in 8 weeks.  A tough road under any circumstances, but with the hearings going on, absolutely impossible.  I dropped the class and took it in the fall.  Every night we watched the national news... in Denver at that time, each national broadcast came on at different times, so we would watch all three networks.

    Sometimes I think that was the last time "the system" - with the help of real investigative journalism - worked.

    The Elephant. The Rider. The Path. Figure those out and change will come.

    by Denver11 on Fri May 25, 2012 at 07:55:17 AM PDT

  •  CREEP was one of the truly great acronyms. (5+ / 0-)

    It was directly derived from Committee to RE-Elect the President.

    Thanks for the reminder about a great story, very well told, and all the more amazing because true. It even has setbacks, as in when the reporters make a serious mistake and the subject is furious about it. Wonderful book.

    "Maybe this is how empires die - their citizens just don't deserve to be world leaders anymore." -Kossack Puddytat, In a Comment 18 Sept 2011

    by pixxer on Fri May 25, 2012 at 08:00:00 AM PDT

  •  No way in hell (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    blueoregon, Brecht, ladybug53

    that would ever happen today.


    The thing about quotes on the internet is you cannot confirm their validity. ~Abraham Lincoln

    by raboof on Fri May 25, 2012 at 08:23:07 AM PDT

  •  I love how that book makes fun (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    of Woodward's speech patterns.

    I'll always be...King of Bain...I'll always be...King of Bain

    by AZphilosopher on Fri May 25, 2012 at 08:23:37 AM PDT

  •  my copy is not that old (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    blueoregon, ladybug53

    but i have a relatively old copy, and i have seen the movie more times than I can count--close to being a perfect film

    "Politics is like driving. To go backward put it in R. To go forward put it in D."

    by TrueBlueMajority on Fri May 25, 2012 at 08:27:28 AM PDT

    •  and (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      blueoregon, ladybug53

      i'm so glad my mom (Avid Nixon hater and Watergate scandal follower) lived long enough to find out the identity of "Deep Throat"

      "Politics is like driving. To go backward put it in R. To go forward put it in D."

      by TrueBlueMajority on Fri May 25, 2012 at 08:28:26 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Our radio reporting professor (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ladybug53, mideedah, blueoregon

      played the movie for the class on the last session as a semester-end gift.

      The class, all of whom were 20+ years younger than me, were bored out of their skills.

      "I don't get it," was what one student said after the movie ended.

      "You can say that again," I thought, burying my face in my hands.

      "The truth will set you free...but first it'll piss you off." - Gloria Steinem

      by Sharoney on Fri May 25, 2012 at 01:29:44 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Yup.... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        "I don't get it," was what one student said after the movie ended.
        That pretty much sums it up.
        I work with lots of kids much much younger than I, and they haven't the slightest interest in todays politics, forget about stuff that happened almost 40 years ago.
        (holy mackerel, 40 YEARS?....geez, where did the time go?  Seems like just yesterday I was watching the TV hearings during June 1973)
        Their disinterest is very disconcerting, but you can't force someone to have an interest in something they think has nothing to do with them - though, as we all know, it has very much to do with them.

        I think, therefore I am........................... Plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose AKA Engine Nighthawk - don't even ask!

        by Lilyvt on Sat May 26, 2012 at 06:43:00 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Very nice discussion. I saw the movie (5+ / 0-)

    When it first came out and was astounded that they were discussing real political events, especially since I remembered the election of 1972 and the subsequent Paris Peace accords.
    There are three political books I can think of that never seem to date: "The Best and The Brightest", "A Bright Shining Lie" and "All the President's Men". Very useful to keep all of them in mind as we head into this modern campaign season, which has brough corruption to a fine art

    An empty head is not really empty; it is stuffed with rubbish. Hence the difficulty of forcing anything into an empty head. -- Eric Hoffer

    by MichiganChet on Fri May 25, 2012 at 08:38:14 AM PDT

  •  I think the country is still reeling from (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    blueoregon, Sharoney, mideedah

    the assassinations decade -- JFK, Malcolm, King, RFK -- and all that followed from it.

    Don't ask me nothin' about nothin'. I just might tell ya the truth -- B. Dylan

    by ponderer on Fri May 25, 2012 at 11:38:10 AM PDT

  •  Nixon and his crony’s anti-Semitism. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Nixon and his crony’s were some of the most outrageous and brazen anti-Semites I’ve ever heard… The Watergate Tapes just turn my ears blue!

    Nudniks need not apply.

    by killermiller on Fri May 25, 2012 at 12:55:46 PM PDT

  •  Remembering it (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    blueoregon, ladybug53

    I was in college then, and the fun just never stopped--the suitcases full of C-notes, the red wig, the tapes, I am Not a Crook, the censored transcripts--being a Democrat during Watergate was an excellent day-to-day experience, especially towards the end, when hordes of desperate Nixonites picketed the Capitol building with signs saying "I AM PRAYING FOR _______" [fill in name of member of House Judiciary Committee], a device apparently attempting to call God's attention to the matter so He could reveal to Chariman Rodino that Nixon was getting a raw deal from Congress and the media and everybody should lay off.

    Afterwards Woodstein published "The Final Days," which I remember drew a Letter to the Editor of Newsweek that referred to the volume as "this scum of a book."  That was very satisfying. I knew it spelled final victory.  Indeed, I was convinced that the whole thing spelled the eternal doom of the GOP and that we would all live happily ever after.

  •  In The Military (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    blueoregon, Dirtandiron, ladybug53

    I was in the Air Force at the time this happened. One question we had (once Nixon's involvement became known), and it was very wide spread, was what would happen if Nixon ordered us to do something. The second question, what would happen if he resigned?

    The first was never addressed or answered. The second was all of us bringing in the paper to our duty the next morning. At the time I was frozen for Vietnam duty (I was Air Force, not Army. We were still involved there in 1974). My spouse and I felt like I would not be going to Nam - we were right.

    •  Interesting tidbit, in researching (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      watergate on the internet, i looked up what national security involvments Deep Throat could have been talking about. Did you know 3 days after the burglary, Kissinger met with Zhou En-Lai and told him,

      Accompanied by NSC staffers Winston Lord and John Negroponte, Kissinger met secretly in Beijing on June 20, 1972 with Chinese Prime Minister Zhou Enlai. Toward the conclusion of the four hour meeting, Dr. Kissinger said to the Chinese, "And while we cannot bring a communist government to power, if, as a result of historical evolution it should happen over a period of time, if we can live with a communist government in China, we ought to be able to accept it in Indochina." [
      knida interesting how many people died  between then and 1974. Glad you made it out of the military in one piece.

      "Such is the irresistible nature of truth that all it asks, and all it wants, is the liberty of appearing." - Thomas Paine

      by blueoregon on Fri May 25, 2012 at 03:09:20 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  On the day .... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    blueoregon, ladybug53, boudi08

    Nixon resigned my Father called me and apologized. We had been estranged for about 5 years over the Vietnam war and my liberal tendencies.

    From that day forward he attempted to honesty seek out the truth. And he was a better person for it. But, it took his President resigning to wake him up. I'm so glad I was able to enjoy his few remaining years left with him helping him learn to be a progressive like my self.

    I'm so disappointed that Nixon was pardoned for his small crime. Our world would have been a much better place if he had been found guilty.  And, perhaps punished in some small way. What was needed was the "system" to not place the President above the law.

    In the end Nixon was just a small time crook when compared to Bush Jr. who's crimes would fill a book.


    "Upward, not Northward" - Flatland, by EA Abbott

    by linkage on Fri May 25, 2012 at 03:40:57 PM PDT

    •  And have. filled a book that is. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ladybug53, boudi08

      My dad was also a nixon supporter, one who became very cynical about politics but who continued to vote for the Republicans. he hated Bush I though, I'm glad he never had to see what the son did to the country.

      "Such is the irresistible nature of truth that all it asks, and all it wants, is the liberty of appearing." - Thomas Paine

      by blueoregon on Fri May 25, 2012 at 04:09:59 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  It's so depressing that such crimes today... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    blueoregon, mumtaznepal

    would be a trivial footnote after 8 years of Bush/Cheney's warrant-less spying, torture, extrajudicial execution and systematized K-street influence peddling.

    Nixon & Watergate were shocking precisely because of the prevailing presumption of competence and respect for the law at the Federal level in 1972.

    Today? Not so much.

    •  rummy and cheny (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      blueoregon, mumtaznepal

      learned from watching Nixon go down how to circumvent that.  And to prevent it from happening again.

      •  More an example of 'defining deviancy downward' (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        blueoregon, boudi08

        What's considered criminal or deviant or despicable in governing/politics/business has been relentlessly defined downward over the last 40 years. In the 1970s even a President could be toppled by breaking the law, and public servants with some notable exceptions still felt some obligation to adhere to some kind of ethical and legal standards. Nowadays the level of deviancy required to even be noticed by prosecutors or our supine corporate media is breathtaking. Eating a live baby kind of stuff.

  •  Have you read this? (0+ / 0-)

    Recently read this story and was wondering what you thought.  I remember hearing stories that Woodward  was a CIA plant from Naval intelligence, but nothing about Dean being disingenuous.  Curious as to your thoughts.  It's a long one but I was anxiously awaiting each installment.  Not sure if the author is a conspiracy theorist--he is somewhat there on the JFK assassination but couldn't find anything debunking him either.

    Great diary though now my 'heroes' have been taken down a peg after reading this version of events.  Maybe sort of hoping it's farcical but I don't put anything out of bounds when the Bush family is involved.

    •  Everyone can come with revisionist history (0+ / 0-)

      "Such is the irresistible nature of truth that all it asks, and all it wants, is the liberty of appearing." - Thomas Paine

      by blueoregon on Fri May 25, 2012 at 11:58:59 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  yeah, it could have some validity but, (0+ / 0-)

        If the CIA wanted Nixon out of the way, why go along with Laos, Cambodia and Chile? the administration had their fingers in all three when watergate went down. As for Woodward's old assistant, i read his article about the fact that Woodstein had spoken to a grand jury member as one of their sources but i can not find the washington post article. I did include the artcile barry sussman wrote for huffpo about that article, however. The Bushies, well, oil money, what can you say? Oilmen have pushed their way into power since....we discovered oil. didn't this guy make a documentary about the bush book, i think i saw it.

        "Such is the irresistible nature of truth that all it asks, and all it wants, is the liberty of appearing." - Thomas Paine

        by blueoregon on Sat May 26, 2012 at 12:25:13 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I haven't seen the documentary (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          and originally thought I had read this book, but after reading these excerpts, I think it must have been a different book about the Bushes.  I'll look for the documentary though-thanks.  As far as Cambodia, Laos and Chile, and going along--maybe it was Nixon going along? I guess I'm not sure what you're asking.

          I tried to look to see if John Dean had any response to this but couldn't find anything. I am very curious as to his reaction, if any.

          •  I meant all the covert actions that were taking (0+ / 0-)

            place in SE Asia and Chile when watergate happened. They were already laying the groundwork in chile with sanctions and trying to find people in the military who would assist a coup.

            "Such is the irresistible nature of truth that all it asks, and all it wants, is the liberty of appearing." - Thomas Paine

            by blueoregon on Sat May 26, 2012 at 10:46:07 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  One of my favorites, too. And (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    one of my favorite scenes in the movie was when Woodstein were searching through thousands of little scraps of paper for another piece of the puzzle, and the camera rises above them, in this enormous government building.  I had a true sense of the enormity of what they were up against, both in their search and in the larger story itself.

  •  I think their second book was even better (0+ / 0-)

    All the President's Men was really written from the reporters' angle, like a detective story that led from a small corner of the scandal to its ever-widening implications. Exciting, certainly, but quite limited in its scope and coverage of the scandal. Further, IIRC (it's been awhile since I last read it), the narrative ends well before Nixon's resignation, so the book never quite seemed "finished" to me.  

    The Final Days tells the more complicated story of the administration's implosion from a broader perspective, putting together pieces of the puzzle that were discovered subsequent to Woodward and Bernstein's investigation.  

    Shirley Chisholm was right. Our Republic is in deep trouble.

    by Big River Bandido on Sun May 27, 2012 at 04:00:10 PM PDT

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