Tag Archives: CREEP

Watergate: Dumbest scandal in U.S. history

Many of us are going to mark the 45th anniversary of the start of the Watergate scandal in varying ways.

Those of us of a certain age might take time to reflect on what I consider to be the most stupid, unnecessary and ridiculous political scandal of the 20th century.

On June 17, 1972, five idiots broke into the Democratic National Committee headquarters at the Watergate office complex in Washington, D.C.; they rifled through some cabinets, pilfered some papers and then left.

Then came the cover-up. President Nixon sought to call off the investigation being done by the FBI. It all led to the president’s pending impeachment and then his resignation from office.

Why so stupid? So pointless? So needless?

Because the president was en route to a smashing re-election victory later that year. On Nov. 7, 1972, Nixon was re-elected with a 49-state landslide over Sen. George McGovern. He won more than 60 percent of the popular vote: 47 million votes to 29 million votes. That’s an 18-million vote margin!

Every political expert in America knew Nixon would win. They knew he’d win big. Sen. McGovern didn’t have a prayer. I received my political baptism that year working for McGovern in my home state of Oregon, helping register first-time voters among college students in Multnomah County. I, too, was a college student. I also had separated from the Army in August 1970 and had served for a time in Vietnam. I wanted the war to end and I supported McGovern’s candidacy.

But McGovern’s candidacy was doomed. Nixon’s team knew it. So did McGovern’s team.

I am left to wonder 45 years after that ridiculous break-in: What in the hell did the Committee to Re-Elect the President hope to gain from such a stupid stunt?

CREEP blew it, causing their guy — the president — to try to cover it up and it all cost him his job as leader of the free world. And for what purpose?

If they ever create a college curriculum to study “Stupid Political Scandals,” Watergate must serve as the all-time benchmark for stupidity.

Nixon could have squashed scandal … easily

Forty-three years ago today, President Nixon missed an opportunity to squash what had been termed a “third-rate burglary.” All he had to do was deliver a brief speech on national television that went something like this:

My fellow Americans. Good evening.

By now you’ve heard about the break-in at the Watergate office complex and hotel in Washington, D.C. Several burglars were apprehended by the D.C. police and arrested and charged with breaking and entering. 

You also have heard that the men apparently were working at the behest of the Committee to Re-Elect the President. They broke into the Democratic National Committee offices and allegedly rifled through some files, looking for papers relevant to the Democrats’ campaign they intend to launch against me this fall.

I called DNC Chairman Larry O’Brien and expressed my deepest regret for this intrusion into the Democratic Party’s office.

It doesn’t stop there. Today, I fired the head of the Committee to Re-Elect the President and his senior staff. I informed all of them that this kind of chicanery will not be tolerated by me, my closest advisers, and anyone associated with my re-election campaign.

Accordingly, I have instructed the attorney general, the director of the FBI and have asked local police to do all they can to get to the bottom of this caper and to ensure that anyone caught is brought to justice as quickly as possible.

I want to apologize as well to the American people for this shameful criminal act.

Thank you and good night.

That event didn’t happen on June 17, 1972. What did happen is that President Nixon launched the Mother of All Cover-Ups. He instructed the FBI to stonewall the investigation into what happened. He told his senior White House staff to do all it could to block any and all inquiries.

He abused the office to which he had been elected and was about to be re-elected later that year in historic fashion.

Contemporary politicians today keep yapping about the “lawlessness” of the current administration. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, is among those who toss around the “lawless” label a bit too carelessly.

Back when young Teddy was in diapers, the Nixon administration set the standard for lawlessness that hasn’t been met since. If he wants to see how an administration can flout federal law, he need look no further than what the Nixon administration did in the name of the man at the top.

So … there you have it.

The Watergate break-in occurred 43 years ago. It could have been put aside and relegated to the kind of story it was in the beginning: a minor cop story covered by the Metro desk of the Washington Post. Then two young reporters — Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward — began smelling a rat.

They found it — in the Oval Office.