Nixon and Watergate it Was Research Paper

  • Length: 10 pages
  • Sources: 10
  • Subject: American History
  • Type: Research Paper
  • Paper: #75352623

Excerpt from Research Paper :

Kennedy won the election by a very narrow margin, 120,000 votes or 0.2% of the electorate. Most historians believe that the primary reason John F. Kennedy won the Presidential Election was because of the non-verbal "poor body language" on the television debate with Richard Nixon in 1960 -- especially valid since radio audiences overwhelmingly voted that Nixon had won the debate. Nixon's body language was furtive, he was perspiring, he looked unshaven, and he did not look at the camera -- Kennedy, on the other hand, was jovial, looked at the camera just as if it were a real person, making the home audience trust and feel like he was talking directly to them (Kennedy - Nixon Debate 2001). Nixon supporters unsuccessfully challenged the votes in Texas, Illinois and 9 others, but after the initial Court battles Nixon conceded in order to avoid a Constitutional Crisis. He and Kennedy met in Florida shortly thereafter where Kennedy offered Nixon a Cabinet post, which Nixon immediately declined (Black 422).

After the loss of the election, Nixon returned to California where he completed a book and lost the 1962 Gubernatorial Election to Pat Brown. After the election he uttered another famous phrase to the press, "You won't have Nixon to kick around anymore because, gentleman, this is my last press conference" (Williams 2007).

Nixon Elected With a New Mandate -- Throughout what the media called, "Nixon's Exile," the GOP turned to him for advice on international affairs and domestic platforms. The 1968 election was more about crime, dissatisfaction within the Democratic Party, and the War in Vietnam. It is likely that Senator Robert Kennedy would have triumphed as the Democratic nominee, but he was assassinated. Instead, Nixon promised "peace with honor" in Vietnam, but had no real public plan, leading the media to assume there was some sort secret deal, but most modern scholars believe it was probably nothing more than an unfounded campaign promise. Of course, given the climate of the time, and the preoccupation towards the war, reporters were grasping at anything possible that might indicate an end to tensions in Southeast Asia (Parmet 1989 116).

Nixon and Vietnam -- One of the reasons Richard Nixon was so paranoid about his hold on power was the public's increasingly hostile stance toward the Vietnam War. The history of the war is complex, but essentially the conflict was fought between South Vietnam (supported by the United States and the Western Powers), and North Vietnam (supported by its communist allies). The war was essentially a guerilla war fought between pro and anti-communist forces. The problem was -- who could tell who was communist and who was not. The United States and its allies entered the war under the pretense of preventing the takeover of South Vietnam as part of a wider strategy to contain communism. Some planners at the time used the analogy "the domino effect" to describe what they believed would happen if one country after another fell to community rule. An example of what was predicted was elaborated on by President Eisenhower as early as 1954:

Finally, you have broader considerations that might follow what you would call the "falling domino" principle. You have a row of dominoes set up, you knock over the first one, and what will happen to the last one is the certainty that it will go over very quickly. So you could have a beginning of a disintegration that would have the most profound influences (Eisenhower 1954).

Culturally, though, the effects on the U.S. social fabric were great. The Army became relatively demoralized, some generals saying, we never knew our friends or our enemies. Tactics became a political basketball, and the success rate was low even at the best of times. Veterans returning to the U.S. after duty were rarely honored, and felt alienated from their country and confused as to why they had even been in Vietnam. Further, even Henry Kissinger noted that the U.S. military was not really suited to this kind of war (Kissinger 1975).Similarly, the political wavering of policy on the War called political judgment into question; doubts were rife about the tactics, and ever decision was scrutinized on the nightly news, with most Americans feeling that they simply did not belong there. More than anything, the Vietnam War emphasized what was wrong on the home front, and that a superpower was not always a superpower -- tremendous

The Watergate Affair -- Ironically, it was not a major policy issue (China, Vietnam, Civil Rights, etc.) that brought down the Nixon White House, or established a basis for his legacy. Instead, it was a bungled burglary by some ex-CIA agents and a series of lies, misinformation, and realization that an American President considered himself above the law.

Essentially, the Watergate Affair was quite simple: Five men broke into Democratic National Committee Headquarters at the Watergate Hotel Complex on June 17, 1972. The FBI was able to connect the hiring of the burglars to a slush fund used by the 1972 Committee to Re-Elect The President, a Republican fund of dubious uses and sources. Based on the initial evidence and target of the burglary, Trial Judge in the case, John Sirica, suspected a conspiracy involving higher placed governmental officials. One of the accused, James McCord, wrote a letter to Sirica, claiming that he was under political pressure to plead guilty in order to protect higher governmental officials. In his letter, he implicated former Attorney General John Mitchell and others, thus elevating the affair into a national political scandal (Dash 1976 30).

Further investigation followed; a $25,000 check for the Nixon re-election campaign was found in one of the brugerlys homes; in September 1972 investigators found that Mitchell controlled an intelligence fund used to gather information on the Democrats; on October 10, the FBI reported that the Watergate break-in was likely a part of a massive campaign of political spying and sabotage. However, this did nothing to prevent Nixon from being re-elected. It was through the investigation by the media, most notably Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein of the Washington Post that there were cover-ups within cover-ups, secret tapes the President kept, illegial dispositions of campaign funds designed for covert action against American citizens, and ultimately the indictment and subsequent prison sentence of two influential aids, H.R. Haldeman and John Ehrlichman, and the dismissal of White House Counsel John Dean, who went on to testify to the Senate against Nixon (Watergate Scandal 1973).

In retrospect, there were really two things that caused Watergate to end Nixon's presidency: The source, code named "Deep Throat," and the "Smoking Gun Tape." Once it became known in the Washington area that Bernstein and Woodward were investigating the President, the reporters were contacted and fed information that would lead them to people and documents that would help uncover a web of conspiracy and allow confirmation of what the investigators already suspected. Although Deep Throat's identity was kept secret for many years, in 2005 the reporters revealed that he was former FBI Deputy Directory Mark Fell, who died in 2008 (Weiner 2008). The second issue that was a death knoll for Nixon was his continual denial that anyone in the White House had any knolwedge of the break-ins or any of the suspects. Instead, on August 5, 1974 a tape from June 23, 1972 indicated that Nixon and Haldeman had a conversation about the burglery and how it would need to be spun to throw off the FBI. Other indications from the tape proved that the President had lied to the nation, to his aides, laywers, and to Congress, for more than two yeas (Bernstein and Woodward 1976 390).

Facing probably impeachment and perhaps even jail time, Nixon agreed that the best possible course personally and professional was to resign as quickly as possible, let the natuion heal and help I return to normalcy.

The Resignation Speech -- In review of the Resignation Speech of President Richard Nixon, one finds a complicated set of emotions running through the speech, as well as the commentary afterwards. Overall, the speech had a great deal of emotion, making the audience feel two ways about the President. The emotion was real -- it was a sad moment for most Americans to see their President in such a mode; sad, depressed, and for the first time in modern history, resigning. But this was coupled with the months and months of news coverage that portrayed the President as an evil criminal, even to the point that he expressed, in a Press Conference, "People want to know their President is not a crook, well, I am not a crook."

However, looking at the events, as well as the speech, objectively, one can truly empathize with both sides of the argument: that the President was guilty of high crimes and therefore should leave office, or, that the President acted in the best way he could and misjudged…

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