Between Two Tapes: The Watergate Legacy

2023 words - 9 pages

In compliance to the subpoena, Nixon had released a number of the tapes; however, on December 7th of 1973, one of the tapes was found to be missing 18 ½ minutes of recording. In an attempt to compromise with the requests for the tapes while maintaining Executive Privilege, the White House released edited transcripts of the tapes on April 30th of 1974 (Nixon gave notice that any audio pertinent to national security would be omitted). These transcripts, however, only worsened Nixon’s image as these transcripts demonstrated Nixon’s distrust of his staff and his frequent use of profanity. Although Nixon seemingly complied with the subpoena, on July 24th of 1974, the U.S. Supreme Court ...view middle of the document...

As a result of Nixon’s deteriorating image and facing inevitable impeachment, Richard Nixon became the first and only president to resign on August 8th of 1974 leaving Gerald Ford to take hold of the presidency.
However, the public reproach towards Nixon and his actions as president is not limited to his involvement in the Watergate Scandal. Nixon was a long-time dark character with a tendency to attempt to keep matters secret, as he did not trust the majority of the people he worked with. One of the most significant things which he attempted to keep secret and out of the public eye was the publication of The Pentagon Papers, in which it was revealed that Nixon authorized a bombing mission in Cambodia without seeking approval from Congress (which is allotted the power to declare war under the U.S. Constitution) and the extensive U.S. involvement in Vietnam. This in itself may have not been as damaging to Nixon’s image in the eyes of the public, but Nixon’s attempts to prevent The Washington Post from publishing these papers-and his failure to do so-brought more attention to the president’s motive for keeping the information secret and the methods through which he sought to prevent the disclosure of information which could harm his public image.
It is for this very reason that to this day, the mention of either Watergate or Nixon brings people to find themselves refusing the urge to spit at the ground, fighting the urge to curse the name of Nixon; however, the rage that is brought on by the mere mention of Nixon or Watergate is rooted in the idea that someone has wronged us in one way or another-that is what anger means-when in fact, Nixon has not necessarily wronged the public. Instead, he wronged the image and the idealistic perception that the U.S. citizens had towards the president-a person who could do no wrong. Nixon, with the uncovering of the Watergate scandal and his attempt to turn different branches of government/government agencies on each other to avoid disclosing information, enlightened the public as to who occupies the presidency: A human. A human who is subject to error and guided by self-interest-willing to employ whatever method needed to achieve his goals. He was an imperfect human, just like everyone else, although his character does appear to be far more lacking of morality than the average person. It is this sight that is the true reason for which people become angry towards Nixon-he was perversely devoid of morality and corrupt.
Not only did Nixon attempt to withhold information by abusing power, but he continuously lied in the face of the people when it was becoming more and more clear that he was involved in a conspiracy of corrupt politicians. Nixon stated in a seemingly ultimate humbleness, “I am not a crook…in all my years of public life, I have never obstructed justice”. Nixon’s chronic dishonesty proved further that he was just as human as the next person-whenever one is discovered to have lied: it is a natural...

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