History 25

2-3 Pages APA Style Format

There’s an old adage that says that history is always written by the winners. Although this is not always the case, it is true that people’s sense of historical events is often influenced by the viewpoints of the historians who write about them.

During the Watergate scandal in 1974, many policy pundits wrote columns demanding that President Richard Nixon resign from the presidency because he was, in their view, clearly culpable for the Watergate break-ins. Not all pundits felt this way, however. Read articles that offer differing views of President Nixon at the height of the Watergate scandal.

Complete the following for this assignment:

  • Step 1: Summarize the arguments made in each of the two articles regarding the conduct of President Nixon. How might each of the author’s views impact the reader’s understanding of the Watergate crisis?
  • Step 2: Describe how the Watergate events changed American views toward politics and politicians. In your view, how did these events change the press coverage of politicians?
  • Step 3: Speculate about how the Watergate event coverage might have been different (better or worse) in the age of social media and smartphones. Would it have lasted as long? Why or why not? Are these innovations in technology helpful or harmful to the way that people understand current events?

At least 2 credible sources are required for this assignment. Your sources should be cited using APA format; both in-text citations and references.

References

Burch, D. (1974, May 14). In defense of Richard Nixon. Retrieved from The Harvard Crimson Web site: http://www.thecrimson.com/article/1974/5/14/in-defense-of-richard-nixon-pithe/

The Washington Post. (1973, May 1). Editorial: Watergate: The unfinished business. Retrieved from http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/national/longterm/watergate/articles/050173-2.htm

Article 1

Editorial: Watergate: The Unfinished Business

Tuesday, May 1, 1973; Page A18

Mr. Nixon’s speech and actions yesterday, far-reaching as they were in impact and effect, leave a lot yet to be done if he means to repair the damage of 10 months of temporizing, evasion and deceit where the Watergate scandals are concerned. Plainly, the President would like to turn the whole ugly matter over to the courts. And plainly took that is where the prosecution of specific criminal violations should be. But almost from the beginning, the test of “wrong-doing” has been neither exclusively nor overridingly whether men the President put in high office had violated criminal laws. An equally important test has been whether these men met certain minimum standards of decency, propriety and honor, to borrow a word much invoked by the President. When one speaks about public confidence and trust, that is the heart of the matter: people are entitled to something more than confidence that their highest public officials do not break the law; they are also entitled to know that these officials do not lie and cheat and corrupt the institutions of government. Mr. Nixon acknowledged as much. But it is precisely in this area of earning (or restoring) public trust that Mr. Nixon’s remedies fall short.

What has the President in fact done? The answer is that he as met only the minimum public and political requirements of the situation — rather as he did on April 17, when he finally acknowledged for the first time his serious concern over the Watergate corruption.

Now as then, it has been as if the President were determined to do no more than the least that is required by the pressures of each new spasm of revelations; it is as if he were continuing to probe to find that level of public tolerance which would oblige him to concede the least.

To see why this is so, one need only examine those positive and welcome actions the President actually has taken. He has, first, accepted the resignations of H.R. Haldeman and John Erhlichman, his two top White House aides. These two resignations go a long way toward fulfilling the imperatives created by the disclosures of scandals. Second, he has accepted the wisdom of Attorney General Kleindienst’s argument for removing himself from a position which necessarily involves him in investigating and prosecuting friends and former colleagues. He has appointed Defense Secretary Elliot Richardson to be Attorney General and — pending confirmation by the Senate — directed him to involve himself in the Watergate investigation and prosecution. Finally, the president has dismissed his White House Counsel John Dean and assigned Mr. Dean’s duties to White House aide Leonard Garment temporarily, until a permanent replacement is selected.

Commendable as all these actions may be, their common denominator is that none of them guarantees the introduction into the investigative process of a detached and wholly independent party, a party with no previous connection with the administration and one unburdened by prior professional relationships — of a friendly or hostile nature — with those persons under investigation. It is not to question in any respect the integrity of Mr. Ricahrdson and Mr. Garment to observe that it is long past the time when an in-housecleaning can meet the test of public credibility. That is not the fault of either of these men; it is the natural consequence of the character of the administration’s self-investigation to date.

The clear solution, forcefully advanced by the prestigious New York City Bar Association, members of Congress and others, is for the criminal aspects of these cases to be put under the direction of a special prosecutor.

Mr. Nixon left open in his speech last night the possibility that something of this nature — a special “supervisory” prosecutor — may be created by Mr. Richardson. To his credit, he has finally accepted ultimate, personal responsibility for the activities of his subordinates and acknowledged the crisis in public confidence that lies at the heart of what we have come to call Watergate.

In what could not have been a particularly easy gesture for him to make, he also acknowledged the role of the press as well as the courts in rooting out information his own investigators had sought to suppress. What remains to be seen — the unfinished business, as it were — is, first of all, the scope and integrity of the investigatory process which he has set in motion. But the remaking of the Nixon presidency will also depend on his willingness and capacity to bring not just new men, or even new approaches, but a whole new environment to the executive branch of the government.

© Copyright 1973 The Washington Post Co.

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Article 2

In Defense of Richard Nixon

By Dean Burch, May 14, 1974

The Chicago Tribune, a long-time supporter of Richard Nixon, called for Nixon’s resignation last week after the release of the White House transcripts. After the Tribune’s editorial appeared, Dean Burch, a special assistant to the president, sent the following statement to the Tribune’s editors.

The Chicago Tribune’s editorial calling for the president to leave office is a most regrettable result of the Watergate affair.

It is regrettable, in major part, because it comes from a newspaper respected by the nation and by its readers–among them, Richard M. Nixon. It was clearly a “painful decision” for the Tribune’s editors, most of whom know the president personally.

There can be no argument with the Tribune’s right to its conclusions–but there is wide berth to contest the Tribune’s reasoning in arriving at these conclusions.

The Tribune says the Richard Nixon revealed in the transcripts is not the man they believed him to be. They maintain the newly-emerged “private Nixon” of the Watergate discussions is somehow less of a man than the “public Nixon,” the leader of a great American nation.

Here, I must differ forcefully. What emerges from these transcripts is a president searching diligently for the truth in Watergate–attempting to balance the enduring interests of the Republic, the commands of the law, and the lives and reputations of his friends and loyal deputies.

Here was a president faced with getting to the bottom of an emerging scandal that he realized might shake the foundations of the Republic. Yet, on the other hand, he was faced with preserving the presidency and, indeed, the nation itself.

But the key question remains: Did Richard Nixon do wrong?

The transcripts–read with an open mind and a practical knowledge of decision-making at the highest levels of the private sector of government–make the case for the President’s actions. What Richard Nixon did was right. Not simply and unequivocally right, perhaps, but right in context and right on balance.

The president responded to emerging internal crisis in the manner of any man at the pinnacle of leadership.

What emerges from the transcript is life as it is. It is life in government and politics, life in industry and business–and, yes, life in the editorial offices of every newspaper. It is how things actually are, warts and all.

Of course, the reality of the transcripts grates against the revered American ideal of the presidency. The salty language, the exploration of alternatives that took place in the Oval Office of the White House may be shocking to some but certainly not to those who have known the men who have occupied the office of President.

The Chicago Tribune editors know well that every presidential word and phrase is not to be etched in marble. It is not the case at the White House, nor in the corporate suites of Manhattan, nor even in the editorial offices on Michigan Avenue.

The president lives in the real world of tough, practical decisions that affect the future of every American–the survival of a nation, the existence of life on this planet.

The president is a man chosen by his fellow citizens from their own ranks. He is the electoral survivor of a process unique and uniquely successful among world governments–a process designed to place at the head of this great nation a man of the people–one who knows and shares everyday problems of all Americans, yet has the qualities of leadership to meet the complex challenges of world problems.

President Nixon is such a man. Regrettably, the Chicago Tribune’s editorial decision is based on about 33 hours of conversation, part of an estimated 15,000 hours of presidential deliberation on foreign and domestic policy as well as hundreds of other topics affecting the lives of Americans.

I wonder if the Chicago Tribune would be so ready to desert an old friend if it could also read transcripts of conversations involving:

1 –Ending with honor U.S. involvement in a war that had plagued this country for a decade.

2 –Bringing home our fighting men and our prisoners of war from Southeast Asia againt incessant pressure simply to bug out.

3 –Building peace in a world that for generations has known little peace.

4 –Directing negotiations for peace in the Middle East, for centuries a cockpit of conflict.

5 –Establishing a new candor in relations with the Soviet Union, whose leaders vowed to bury us, and opening dialogue with China, whose millions posed a growing threat to world peace.

6 –Returning government to the people–letting those who pay the taxes decide where the tax dollar will be spent.

The man who accomplished these things and much more is a great leader, a moral man, and a courageous American president.

Like all great presidents, he is not perfect. But he is not thus to be impeached. He is determined to pursue the policies that have changed the face of the world dramatically in five short years until the end of his elected term in office.