Watergate the World of Politics Is Filled Term Paper

Pages: 7 (2780 words)  ·  Style: Turabian  ·  Bibliography Sources: 15  ·  File: .docx  ·  Topic: American History


The world of politics is filled with uncivilized, snarling, rapacious beasts...."

Watergate was an event in American history that changed the course of politics, American life and leaders drastically. At first the public was unaware of the seemingly insignificant event, then when made aware, they were unaware of the importance of what appeared to be five ordinary men burglarizing an office in downtown Washington, D.C., then, when they realized this significance of the burglary and who it led to, they were unaware of the consequences that would arise from this event. Gradually, the significance and the consequences were impressed upon the public by the wide and intense media coverage of the event over a period of six years, from 1970 to 1976.

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The event, the significance and the consequences in other ages would not have been brought with such up-to-the-minute speed to the eyes of the public, but in the 1970's the stories in the Washington Post, written by two reporters, Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward, were flashed around the world within minutes and brought to everyone's breakfast table before the ink on the front page of the Post was dry. The burglary itself did not arouse much curiosity, but when the connections of the five burglars began to be traced to the White House and then possibly to the President himself, the story took on the taste of a good mystery novel and each day's revelations were followed as if it was the next installment of a gripping soap opera, especially when the President began to claim he was just as much in the dark as everyone else as to how and why the clues kept on leading to him. No one believed or wanted to believe that a President could stoop so low as to send five henchmen to photograph and steal records from his rival's office with the intent of using private information to win his next election.

And the Watergate complex itself: What a name for a caper and what a backdrop for a drama!

Term Paper on Watergate the World of Politics Is Filled Assignment

The opulent Watergate on the banks of the Potomac in downtown Washington, was as Republican as the Union League Club. Its tenants included the former Attorney General of the United States John M. Mitchell, now director of the Committee for the Re-election of the President; the former Secretary of Commerce Maurice H. Stans, finance chairman of the President's campaign; the Republican national chairman, Senator Robert Dole of Kansas; President Nixon's secretary, Rose Mary Woods; and Anna Chennault, who was the widow of Flying Tiger ace Claire Chennault and a celebrated Republican hostess; plus many other prominent figures of the Nixon administration.

The Watergate, costing $100,000 for a two-bedroom cooperative apartment, was the symbol of the ruling class in Nixon's Washington. It had been in the news. It was the target of 1000 anti-Nixon demonstrators two years earlier. They had run into a wall of riot-equipped policemen sent to protect the complex, who viciously pushed them back onto the campus of George Washington University with tear gas and Billy clubs while the residents watched from their balconies and cheered.

The fact that the Democratic National Committee Headquarters lay within this Republican stronghold was odd in itself. This was only the first of many odd facts revealed by Woodward and Bernstein that were stranger than fiction and harder to figure out. As an event, the sequence unfolded slowly and painfully. There were allegations, suspicions and denials on the part of the President. Constantly denying he had anything to do with the Watergate burglary, the President finally began to appear to protest too much.

But the story began in November of 1968, when Richard Milhous Nixon, the 55-year-old former vice president who lost the presidency for the Republicans in 1960, defeated Hubert Humphrey in one of the closest elections in U.S. history. Hubert Humphrey was an experienced, brilliant Democrat who was wildly popular. That Nixon defeated him was a miracle, yet Nixon claimed to have won a landslide victory when the announcement was made of his election. This set some people's teeth on edge and the nation became very much divided, with Nixon opponents waiting for the man, who appeared to some to be as trustworthy as a used car salesman, to make a mistake.

The first suspicious move he made, though no one realized it at the time, was to initiate and approve a plan for expanding intelligence-gathering by the CIA, FBI and other agencies far beyond what appeared rational. There was a lot of talk about why this would be done and a few days after July 23, 1970, the day he had approved such a plan, he rescinded his approval.

On June 13, 1971, the New York Times began to publish papers leaked from an official in the White House. Dubbed "The Pentagon Papers," they were the Defense Department's secret history of the Vietnam War.

Secretly, on September 9, 1971, Nixon had a group of trusted henchmen, who he called the "plumbers" because they were ordered to plug leaks in the administration, burglarize a psychiatrist's office, looking for files on Daniel Ellsberg, the former defense analyst who had leaked the Pentagon Papers in June. The next year, in May of 1972, he had them install bugging equipment in the Democratic National Committee headquarters in the Watergate Complex, perhaps not the only office he had ordered this done to.

Early on the morning of June 17, 1972 the "plumbers" were caught red-handed in the Democratic National Committee offices, dressed in business suits and wearing rubber surgical gloves. They had a walkie-talkie, 40 rolls of unexposed film, two 35-millimeter cameras, lock picks, pen-size tear-gas guns, and bugging devices in their kits, capable of picking up telephone and room conversations. They had $100 bills in sequence in each of their wallets. They obviously knew their way around, as one of them was familiar with the layout. They had rented rooms on the second and third floors of the hotel and had eaten lobster together in the restaurant there earlier that night. Bernard Barker, Virgilio Gonzalez, Eugenio Martinez, James W. McCord and Frank Sturgis hoped no one would realize what they were really doing, but two wily reporters, with some help from their friend Alfred E. Lewis, at the Washington Post, figured something bigger than a normal burglary was afoot. Bob Woodward, a veteran reporter and Carl Bernstein, a rookie, were assigned the story, which broke on a Saturday, by the city editor. Who knew what a big story it would turn out to be? Not they.

They began to investigate the backgrounds of the burglars and on June 19 revealed that one of the burglars was a GOP security aide. When questioned, former attorney general John Mitchell, head of the Nixon re-election campaign, denied any link to the operation.

Two months later, a $25,000 cashier's check, apparently earmarked for the Nixon campaign, wound up going into the bank account of a Watergate burglar and this was revealed in the Washington Post. The story was coming very close to home and Nixon got White House Counsel, John Dean, to say that he had conducted an investigation into the Watergate matter and found that no-one from the White House was involved.

In September the burglars were indicted. Indictments were also made against E. Howard Hunt and G. Gordon Liddy. The Post found out that John Mitchell, while he was attorney general, had a secret Republican fund used to finance widespread intelligence-gathering operations against the Democrats.

On October 10, 1972, after an investigation by the FBI, the Post announced that they believed the Watergate break-in was part of a massive campaign of political spying and sabotage conducted on behalf of the Nixon re-election effort.

In November, 1972, Nixon was re-elected, in one of the largest landslides in American history, with more than 60% of the vote, crushing Democratic Senator George McGovern of South Dakota.

During 1973, the trial of the burglars, presided over by Judge John Sirica proceeded, with Barker, Gonzalez, Martinez and Sturgis pleading guilty. Hunt was brought to trial and pleaded guilty. Gordon Liddy and James W. McCord, Jr., both former Nixon aides, were convicted of conspiracy, burglary and wiretapping. McCord wrote a letter to the judge, claiming that the defendants had pleaded guilty under duress, that others were involved as well and named John Dean, Counsel to the President, and John Mitchell, the Attorney General of the United States. This letter, revealing a cover-up and obstruction of justice by the highest law officer in America was shocking to the world. It reflected on the President and his whole entourage.

John Dean began to cooperate with the Watergate prosecutors on April 16 and the next day Nixon promised that White House staff would appear before the Senate Committee with "major new developments." He said there had been real progress toward finding the truth.

On April 30, 1973, Nixon made a speech to the nation after firing John Dean and taking resignations from top White… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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