If you thought you know about Watergate, I can’t recommend enough the Slate podcast series about Watergate, Slow Burn. Neyfakh goes into deep rabbit holes around the Watergate story. This seven-part retelling helps those of us that didn’t understand the nuances of the story to fully immerse ourselves into the blow by blow of probably one of the darkest times in American history. What I appreciated is Neyfakh’s telling of the story without tieing in parallels to today’s politics. He lets the listener make inferences and boy are there some patterns repeating some 40 years later!
HERE is the link to the podcast.
Here’s what struck me during the listening of the series;
1. I knew Nixon was a broken man and I’ve written about him on this blog in the past (below). I got a deeper insight into his paranoia and a clear view of how absolute power corrupts absolutely. Of course, Madison’s quote rings true; If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In the end the three branches of government kept the system in check. My theory on how the 7 Deadly Sins lives in each of us is once again proven. Nixon had a career mired absolute ambition, pride and wrath.
2. Nixon used every apparatus of government to wield his power. I’ve covered the taping of Trump’s campaign offices by the NSA and hope that all Americans see what a slippery slope those events exposed.
3. The 4th Branch of Government (the media) and honest men were important to bring Nixon down. So in the end, the systems of checks and balances rose above politics and the Republic was preserved. Trump’s media bashing is another slippery slope. In our days of social media echo chambers, our news is more segmented than ever. If you turn on Fox News or CNN you know exactly what you are going to get. This echo chamber didn’t start with Trump. He and his election are what I like to call and Equal But Opposite Reaction to the prior administrations’ (Bush 2 and Obama) sins. All hands are dirty in this debate. Only an educated citizenry can take in the information and decide for themselves on what is true. I’ve written a lot about the state of education in America – HERE. Suffice to say, we are on the wrong track and I’ve rolled up my sleeves to try to fix it in my own small way.
4. The conservative movement, in this case the dog whistles to segregation and backlash to the hippie movement, needs to be checked. The blind devotion to Nixon in the face of such abuses of power is scary. Both Obama and Trump supporters should carefully watch out for what they wish for. Listen to Episode 5 and get a sense of what Trump supporters today and Nixon supporters in the early 1970’s have in common.
Slow Burn – WITH LEON NEYFAKH
You think you know the story, or maybe you don’t. But Watergate was stranger, wilder, and more exciting than you can imagine. What did it feel like to live through the scandal that brought down a president?
Join Leon Neyfakh for an eight-episode podcast miniseries that tells the story of Watergate as it happened—and asks, if we were living through Watergate, would we know it?
In the end, our form of government is not the best, but as Winson Churchill said
“Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others.”
The Republic survived a Civil War, a Great Depression, World Wars, Richard Nixon, Jimmy Carter, George Bush, Barrak Obama and it will survive Donald Trump. The systems of checks and balance and the power of the voting booth seem to win out in the end. A government for and by the people pervails. Now math, that’s hard to outrun. The math is creeping up on us and when the spark hits and bubbles burst, we need to be careful not to run to government filled with broken men to solve our problems.
More On My Prior Nixon Posts;
Nixon, My Second LEAST Favorite President
Blind ambition, narcissism, a man grabbed and consumed by power, you name it, Nixon suffered from it. From early in 1968 where he was behind extending the Vietnam war to make Johnson look bad;
There was no doubt, said Johnson, that Nixon’s campaign team was trying to scupper peace talks aimed at ending the Vietnam War. They were afraid that peace in Vietnam would help Nixon’s Democratic rival, Hubert Humphrey, to clinch the election.
Johnson threatened to go public with his information. The election was just days away.
But Johnson never did go public. He received an emphatic denial from Nixon in person the next day. And perhaps more importantly, Johnson never had the definitive evidence he needed tying Nixon himself to the efforts being made by his campaign team.
A new discovery by historian John Farrell might well be the smoking gun that Johnson needed. It’s published in The New York Times.
The peace process in 1968 was real. The Soviet Union had persuaded North Vietnam to come to the table, the US just needed to deliver South Vietnam. At the beginning of November, both sides made goodwill gestures to prepare for the talks. The Communists stopped shelling cities and halted attacks across the Demilitarized Zone between North and South Vietnam. Johnson ordered a halt to the massive US aerial bombing campaign. “We’ve had 24 hours of relative peace,” he said in that Nov. 2 call to Nixon’s friend, Sen. Everett Dirksen (R-Ill.). “If Nixon keeps the South Vietnamese away from the conference, well, that’s going to be his responsibility. Up to this point, that’s why they’re not there.”
To starting of the EPA, OSHA, enacted price and wage controls and probably the most devastating short-term move any President could make was that he took the US off the gold standard and cut a deal to make sure the Petro-Dollar was adopted by all oil-producing nations. Frustrated by a slow economy going into the 1972 elections (the Watergate election), Nixon removed America from the gold standard and forever put the central bankers and the federal reserve in charge of running up the largest deficits in history. With Kissinger at his side, securing the Dollars place as the primary currency for the trade of oil gave America a 40 year run of prosperity. Prosperity at a cost. The constant battles and interventions in the middle east are always in the name of protecting American interests….the petrodollar.
“Can you imagine what this man would have been like if somebody would have loved him?” —Henry Kissinger
Here’s one of the biggest decisions made that Nixon made. It was an election year, we were leading into the Watergate scandal and Nixon knew he’s got a temporary bump from leaving the gold standard. Fast forward 40 years and we can see what the fiat money system has morphed into. My favorite line ‘the many responsible lenders of the International banking community’.