The Watergate Scandal
The United States Justice System is founded on In it's historical context, Watergate was not a surprising development when it is considered that Nixon was a paranoid personality capable of using any avenue to insure that his political objectives were attained. He had proved that early in his political career in his famous Checkers speech. By the early 70's however the nation had changed. It wasn't as easy to dupe the public with sappy speeches to explain away political indiscretions. The country was seriously concerned about our involvement in Southeast Asia and how the administration was going to extricate itself from the disaster. The media was on the job during this watershed period in our political history.
The whitewash days of the Kennedy period were over. The press was willing to examine and cross-examine. This was a significant departure from the mentality of the press the day Kennedy was assassinated and his alleged assassin incredibly unprotected and gunned down two days later. The country had changed significantly by the early seventies. The passive public was not quite so willing to be blindly led anymore. The press was now activist in nature. Archilbald Cox stated "the Watergate experience is the convincing evidence… of the ability of the American people to come together in times when abuses of political power appear and threaten our political system." The people were not willing to accept without question the proclamations of presidential press secretaries. In the process, the peoples' self-image had to change. They matured and of course were willing to challenge authority. This is something that was unheard of in the 1950's. The effect on our political institutions was dramatic. It was a wake up call to Congress that their responsibilities within the system of checks and balances were of extreme importance.
As the result of Watergate, the concept of a special prosecutor became a reality and despite initial problems it worked. Interestingly, Nixon true to his pattern of abusing power, arrogantly thought he could control the office of the special prosecutor (The Saturday Night Massacre). Fortunately Leon Jaworski, who was selected by Nixon to replace Archibald Cox, recognized the seriousness of the situation and continued the prosecution in an honorable fashion. Jaworski is one of the true heroes of this episode in American Political History along with Elliot Richardson. These two men who recognized Nixon for the corrupt person he was and refused to be controlled by him.
The question of changing the ongoing political movement to the right is an extraordinary one. At the time Nixon resigned he was seen as a patriot by the right wing much like Lt. Col. Oliver North was viewed in the Iran Contra affair, subscribing to the notion that the ends justify the means. This was true of Nixon and his entourage of ex-CIA officers such as E. Howard Hunt, Bernard Barker (Cuban Exile and former CIA...