Sunday, June 15, 2008

The Lesson of Watergate: "Don't Get Caught"

PBS Documentary Watergate Plus 30: Shadow of History (2003), directed by Foster Wiley, narrated by Will Lyman (probably the strongest narrator of our time, he also narrated Little Children). Produced by Sherry Jones (who also wrote the narration) and Marijo Dowd.

"What did the President know and when did he know it?" The Silent Majority, the Pentagon Papers, stonewalling, smoking gun, hush money, enemies list, wiretapping, dirty tricks, Saturday Night Massacre, Constitutional crisis. It's all here in two hours. Watergate Plus 30 does a standup job in setting the context for Watergate, showing how it grew out of the Nixon White House's climate of secrecy during the US-Vietnam War from paranoia and a sense of entitlement. (The clearest proponent of this type of government still in office is US VP Dick Cheney, although on a smaller scale, Kwame Kilpatrick, mayor of Detroit, is not far behind).

How can this not be riveting? Every American should see it, should study at least the broad contours of Nixon and Watergate. (Spiro Agnew doesn't make an appearance, unfortunately -- however, a documentary on Nixon's VP would be fascinating, too -- or perhaps one on all the vice presidents from Truman to Cheney?).

Here's the chapter outline:

America's Greatest Political Scandal
Meet the Players
Nixon's Enemy List Grows
Small Incremental Lies
The Cover-Up Unravels
The Senate Investigation
John Dean
Haldeman and Ehrlichman
The Tapes Are Discovered
The Smoking Gun Leads to Resignation
The Price Paid

A picture worth a thousand words: White Man's Burden? Good ole boys' club? McCain City? Haha, joke's on everyone outside the club!

John Dean's conclusion: "I think the lesson of Watergate is: don't get caught. And that's really about it." Which has been Cheney's "Executive Privilege" playbook ever since Watergate, certainly. John McCain signed on board long ago, saying he supports unlimited wiretapping because "who but the ACLU and trial lawyers would object?" Judging from the paltry street protests up until now, maybe he's right. . .

Today's Rune: Disruption.


Charles Gramlich said...

Did you ever listen to Lynyrd Skynyrd's line about "Watergate does not bother me. Does your conscience bother you?"

There's a good lesson in Watergate, in that we have to remember that our elected leaders can be questionable ethically. We should never forget this and should keep a close watch on the folks we put into the Oval office.

Erik Donald France said...

Sweet Home Alabama! An anthem in North Carolina, certainly. Which is about 50/50 split along voting lines.