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Old 03-25-2019, 08:16 PM
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Dopers alive for Watergate: honest comparison of then vs. now?


I’m sort of getting the sense that Watergate and its results are romanticized in some circles, like Nixon had a 0% approval rating and was forced to resign by Democrats and Republicans in equal measure working together singing kumbaya for the good of the country. I sort of wonder if this is widespread, and if it’s harming expectations and such today.

So I thought I’d ask my Doper elders (heh) who remember all this firsthand. Obviously, there are many changes in government and society between then and now (not the least of which is conservative news and media), but I’d like to hear your direct impressions and comparisons of the DC and national reaction between Nixon and Trump.
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Old 03-25-2019, 08:29 PM
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I’m sort of getting the sense that Watergate and its results are romanticized in some circles, like Nixon had a 0% approval rating and was forced to resign by Democrats and Republicans in equal measure working together singing kumbaya for the good of the country. I sort of wonder if this is widespread, and if it’s harming expectations and such today.

So I thought I’d ask my Doper elders (heh) who remember all this firsthand. Obviously, there are many changes in government and society between then and now (not the least of which is conservative news and media), but I’d like to hear your direct impressions and comparisons of the DC and national reaction between Nixon and Trump.
No, most everyone thought Nixon was a crook. Some defended him as a effective crook. Still, a few hardcore GOP supporters thought he was framed.
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Old 03-25-2019, 09:40 PM
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I was there. Just out of the service and working, while all my roommates were in grad school. I arrived home each day to find them glued to the Watergate hearings.

Nixon had been elected to a second term during the investigations and the hearings seemed to go on forever.

If the current situation follows the same pattern, we are just getting started.
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Old 03-25-2019, 09:55 PM
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When during Watergate? In 1972, it was nothing, a two-bit story pushed by Nixon's enemies. In 1973, the Watergate hearings were riveting daily television when watching such hearings were very unusual because C-Span and cable didn't exist. The Saturday Night Massacre took place on Oct. 20, 1973. That, I think, was the major turning point. Nixon made himself look guilty: Presidents did not obstruct justice. Even so, it took another year of continual fighting until Nixon went down, having finally lost the leaders in his party.

You cannot compare Watergate and now. Two gigantic differences. One, the parties then had liberal, moderate, and conservative wings. The world was not bipartisan, but each wing had allies in the other party they could talk to and work with. Two, only what is now called the mainstream media existed. They were trusted. Walter Cronkite was still the CBS anchor. No official propaganda streams reached the mass market. Media coverage made it obvious that Nixon was a crook. He had an enemies list and most of the names on it were journalists, but they stood equal to him.

Nixon started everything we see today. He called everyone opposed to him enemies, and went to war with them. He inaugurated the Southern Strategy, which made racism the official principle of the Republican Party. He personified hatred in his personal statements, many of which were caught on tape. He surrounded himself with unqualified toadies who primary skill was crushing others in his name. He had no personal friends, and no advisors to rein him in. He unleashed the world we live in and gave those who hated the Other permission to relish their perceived superiority. They've always been almost half the country, a minority that could easily reach a majority when the other half did not fight them every single second.

The one saving difference between Nixon and Trump that matters is that Nixon had no mass people skills and that is Trump's only skill. That skill is far more important and successful in today's changed media landscape. Everything else is too close to the same for anyone to back down an inch ever.
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Old 03-25-2019, 09:56 PM
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When he started his second term, before Watergate blew up, Nixon's approval rating was 67%. As late as May 1973, more people approved than disapproved of his performance. By the end of 1973, his approval rating was around 30%. But he probably could have ridden out Watergate until it became known that there were recordings of his conversations and the Supreme Court voted 9-0 that he had to turn over the tapes. That was on July 24, 1974. The House Judiciary Committee voted the first articles of impeachment on July 27. By then Nixon's approval rating had dropped to 24%. A few days later the tapes revealed the "smoking gun" that he was actively involved in the coverup of the original "third-rate burglary." That's when Republican leadership told him he would be convicted. Nixon resigned on August 9.

Truman also had dismal approval ratings in his second term, although I think they stayed above 30%, and they improved somewhat by the time he left office.

Even Nixon's most hard-core supporters never had the fierce personal devotion toward him as Trump supporters have, though. Nixon's style simply couldn't come up with the level of righteous indignation that inspires that kind of response.

Last edited by Kent Clark; 03-25-2019 at 09:59 PM.
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Old 03-25-2019, 10:11 PM
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There are a lot of similarities between now and then, but the biggest difference is that Nixon was veteran politician unlike Trump who is serving his first term in public office.
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Old 03-26-2019, 12:46 AM
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Another big difference is that Nixon had tapes but thought he could keep them from going public. I bet Trump doesn't have tapes. But they both seem(ed) to think they were too big to fail. Nixon was wrong and I hope Trump is too.
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Old 03-26-2019, 04:59 AM
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I was a kid then, but one important difference is that during Watergate, there was still a collective idea of citizenship. Even far right politicians still operated within the same set of accepted facts as the far left. Now, there is no shared reality, we are two distinct nations who are wrestling for control of a single national government. Victory by one side now represents an existential threat to the other side.

The damage being done now is far more profound than the damage of Nixon because we will not come together after Trump.

Last edited by madmonk28; 03-26-2019 at 05:01 AM.
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Old 03-26-2019, 05:54 PM
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One thing to keep in mind is that hardly anybody actually liked Nixon. So there was no 35% mass of ultra-loyal supporters. Once his support started to fail it cratered. This hasn't happened now and it seems to be unlikely that it will.

But things might change if the Mueller report should ever become public. It is still conceivable that the AG's report totally misrepresented the report. After all, what were all those high-profile plea bargains all about? They were all pretty big fish and the only reason for a plea bargain is to catch a bigger fish. We might be at the equivalent of early 1973; who knows?
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Old 03-26-2019, 11:28 PM
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Exapno Mapcase has succinctly summed up my thoughts about the situations—notably the broad agreement on what standards government should be held to, and what constitutes knowable truth. But I'll add an anecdotal reflection on the era: At the time, the three newsweeklies offered special subscriptions to high-school students, and government classes frequently required students to subscribe to one for "current events" discussions. The Texarkana, Texas, school board (and probably others) decided that Newsweek and Time were unfairly trying to hound Nixon from office, and decreed that U.S. News & World Report was the only newsweekly that could be used in the classroom.

Ironically, this edict was still in force for my government class when school began in Sept. 1974, even though there had been some, ahem, further developments in the Nixon presidency the previous month.
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Old 03-27-2019, 06:48 AM
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But he probably could have ridden out Watergate until it became known that there were recordings of his conversations and the Supreme Court voted 9-0 that he had to turn over the tapes. That was on July 24, 1974.
Just to keep these two things from getting elided, the existence of the tapes was revealed by Alexander Butterfield in his testimony before the Senate Watergate Committee on July 13, 1973.

From that point on, it was pretty much all a battle over the tapes. Nixon fired Archibald Cox in the Saturday Night Massacre ("Impeach the Cox Sacker!" was one of the best bumper stickers ever) over his subpoena of the first nine tapes, one of which was the June 20, 1973 tape that probably would have been the smoking gun if Nixon hadn't erased 18.5 minutes of it. (We don't know for a fact that Nixon did that, but come on. ) And so forth.
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Old 03-27-2019, 06:58 AM
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{...} (We don't know for a fact that Nixon did that, but come on. ) {...}
If I had a friend like Miss Rosemary Woods,
How simple my life would be
I'd just give all my problems to Rosemary Woods
and she would erase them for me...


CMC fnord!

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Old 03-27-2019, 07:31 AM
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Another big difference is that Nixon had tapes but thought he could keep them from going public. I bet Trump doesn't have tapes. But they both seem(ed) to think they were too big to fail. Nixon was wrong and I hope Trump is too.
That's a major difference that can't be overlooked. I don't know what evidence federal investigators and prosecutors have in their possession at the moment, but as far as we know, there are no recordings, no tapes, except for Access Hollywood of course.
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Old 03-27-2019, 07:37 AM
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One thing to keep in mind is that hardly anybody actually liked Nixon. So there was no 35% mass of ultra-loyal supporters. Once his support started to fail it cratered. This hasn't happened now and it seems to be unlikely that it will.

But things might change if the Mueller report should ever become public. It is still conceivable that the AG's report totally misrepresented the report. After all, what were all those high-profile plea bargains all about? They were all pretty big fish and the only reason for a plea bargain is to catch a bigger fish. We might be at the equivalent of early 1973; who knows?
I don't think Trump supporters necessarily 'like' Trump either. The difference is that Trump offers the shittiest people in the country access to influence the political agenda. He offers white nationalism a platform without any precedent in the post-civil rights era. He offers a similar platform to the most extreme of Christian fundamentalists. Nixon was a plutocrat's best friend, too, but the difference is that Trump has the support of a party that is ideologically in alignment with plutocrats - so much so that they look the other way when a hostile foreign country tries to interfere in an American election. Trump also has the chance to fundamentally reshape the federal judiciary for the next 30 or more years, in a way that pleases the worst among us. So that's the difference. Trump offers horrible people good things, and there's no way in hell that those diehards are going to abandon him. In some cases - perhaps in numbers that will shock us all - they might very well take up arms to defend him.
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Old 03-27-2019, 09:43 AM
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There are a lot of similarities between now and then, but the biggest difference is that Nixon was veteran politician unlike Trump who is serving his first term in public office.
The biggest difference is Trumps bass are a bunch of knuckle dragging morons that get all their information from FOX 'news'.
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Old 03-27-2019, 10:33 AM
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The biggest difference is Trumps bass are a bunch of knuckle dragging morons that get all their information from FOX 'news'.
Well, this too. I was gonna say, however, that over the course of 45 years or so the nation's standards for behavior at the top have lowered and coarsened. A brash, TV's hindquarters like Donald Trump may not have ever been taken seriously enough for the country's top position in 1972 but today gets away with misdeeds far greater than Nixon ever committed.

I'm left wondering if we boomers had an important hand in that continuous lowering of standards.
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Old 03-27-2019, 10:36 AM
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You did. Thanks loads. Those ten years or so my junior thank you even more.
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Old 03-27-2019, 10:56 AM
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Exapno Mapcase has succinctly summed up my thoughts about the situations—notably the broad agreement on what standards government should be held to, and what constitutes knowable truth. But I'll add an anecdotal reflection on the era: At the time, the three newsweeklies offered special subscriptions to high-school students, and government classes frequently required students to subscribe to one for "current events" discussions. The Texarkana, Texas, school board (and probably others) decided that Newsweek and Time were unfairly trying to hound Nixon from office, and decreed that U.S. News & World Report was the only newsweekly that could be used in the classroom.

Ironically, this edict was still in force for my government class when school began in Sept. 1974, even though there had been some, ahem, further developments in the Nixon presidency the previous month.
The irony is thick here. Time magazine under Henry Luce had moved more and more conservative after WWII. Luce died in 1967, but the Time-Life empire was too huge to quickly change. Newsweek pitched itself as a hipper and more liberal alternative to Time, with enormous campaigns giving college readers cheap subscriptions, which is when I started getting it. U.S. News was staunchly conservative, but had a much lower circulation.

Even so, Newsweek was never a leftist magazine. No major leftist mass market magazine or newspaper or television outlet existed at the the time. The closest I can point to was Rolling Stone and real leftists would have to be scraped off the ceiling at my doing so.

Plenty of conservative outlets could be found. The New York Times was far to the left of most newspapers because it was basically centrist, and that may be overstating it. (Leftists used to hate the Times.) Virtually every southern newspaper was wildly conservative and so were many midwestern ones. The Los Angeles Times was notably conservative. Whatever remained of the Hearst and Gannett and several other old-time empires were conservative to the core. The McCormick newspapers in Chicago and elsewhere were much farther right than that. All the business magazines were corporate conservative.

There was nothing on the left to balance them out. A few little political magazines, a few outrage magazines (like Ramparts and Monocle), an occasional article in Playboy and Esquire, but no newspapers, no television, no reaching out to the mass audience. The mainstream media was mainstream and mainstream America was not leftist, as seen in Nixon's landslide victory in 1972.

For Nixon to go down in such an environment says volumes about Nixon but very little about America.
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Old 03-27-2019, 02:00 PM
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...

Even so, Newsweek was never a leftist magazine. No major leftist mass market magazine or newspaper or television outlet existed at the the time. The closest I can point to was Rolling Stone and real leftists would have to be scraped off the ceiling at my doing so....

There was nothing on the left to balance them out. A few little political magazines, a few outrage magazines (like Ramparts and Monocle), an occasional article in Playboy and Esquire, but no newspapers, no television, no reaching out to the mass audience. The mainstream media was mainstream and mainstream America was not leftist, as seen in Nixon's landslide victory in 1972.....
I'd count the Rolling Stone, but there was a vigorous Free Press around at that time, with weeklies at every corner.
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Old 03-27-2019, 02:07 PM
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Was operation mockingbird still in effect during Watergate?
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Old 03-27-2019, 04:46 PM
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The difference is, this time I'm scared.
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Old 03-27-2019, 06:13 PM
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I'd count the Rolling Stone, but there was a vigorous Free Press around at that time, with weeklies at every corner.
If you mean alternative weeklies, they never were part of any mass market. Their combined circulation was probably less than a Fantastic Four comic book.

If you mean something else, you'll have to spell it out.
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Old 03-27-2019, 06:30 PM
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If you mean alternative weeklies, they never were part of any mass market. Their combined circulation was probably less than a Fantastic Four comic book.

If you mean something else, you'll have to spell it out.
Yes, Alt weeklies, aka free press. And I never claimed they were part of any mass market, eact city had one or two plus maybe one in a university.
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Old 03-27-2019, 08:41 PM
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... There was nothing on the left to balance them out. ...
No text-based entity, I agree. And the reasons for that are worth further exploration.

If we're talking widely-known left-leaning sentiment, it was surely found in the arts: Easy Rider and M*A*S*H at the movies, and Pete Seeger and Joan Baez and left-leaning rockers in music. The Smothers Brothers were pretty lefty on television and Mort Sahl and Dick Gregory were telling subversive jokes both on television and in nightclubs.
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Old 03-27-2019, 08:54 PM
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I’m a little gobsmacked at one omission in all the previous posts that makes our present day situation so different – and so much more dangerous – than Watergate.

Chiefly, Watergate was a national concern. Nixon and his henchmen were far fewer than the number Trump controls (or rather, who control him), and they were all American-born. In contrast, Trump has welcomed and coordinated his efforts with adversarial foreign actors – and not just Russians. The House of Saud is having their way with us, too. (Reuters)

Those foreign interests happen to align with the goals of our own American oligarchy, who are all too happy to turn a blind eye and accept their illegal assistance, along with the evangelical nutjobs who have somehow persuaded themselves that Trump is their tool to facilitate the second coming because he’ll force women to have children they don’t want and can’t care for, and he might just bring about their Rapture. Look at the lunatics who are running the show today: Pence, Pompeo, Bolton, Kushner, DeVos, McConnell, Nunes, Jordan. We all know the players. The end justifies the means, and this is very different than how things were during Watergate.

During Watergate, there was still collegiality in Congress. People were better educated about civics and how their government was meant to work. They understood its success centered on compromise. The rule of law mattered. We had the filibuster. We had the draft, meaning more people had actual skin in the game. Citizens understood the importance of the separation of church and state. They also had a much better grasp on history, meaning they could still appreciate the importance of international alliances and were much more clear-eyed about the hostile foreign actors. Diplomacy mattered.

Lots more people recognized the emotion of shame.

Now it’s a winner-take-all smash ‘n grab. The criminals in power are monetizing, selling out, stealing everything not nailed down as fast as they can, without regard to how vulnerable it leaves our national security or the well being of our citizens or our government institutions. In fact, undermining our government institutions is the feature, not a bug. Waving a rebel flag and wearing a stupid red hat constitutes patriotism.

Understand the projection at work today that had no role during Watergate: When Trump screams, “Rigged!” it’s because he is rigging. When Republicans holler, “Voter fraud!” it’s because they are actively tampering with the vote. There will be a citizenship question on the 2020 census, because it skews favorable for Republicans and is no longer a means of counting the actual number of people in the country. For selfish personal gain, Trump and his party will zealously exploit racial, religious and cultural schisms for as long as they can to stay in power. He has his echo chambers in Fox "News" and social media as his force multipliers.

Trump and his minions are going to be frenetically busy over the next couple of years, tearing down every norm we’ve recognized since the inception of this nation. They will welcome both foreign and domestic interference with the 2020 election. Even if Dems prevail, they will not go peacefully. The will scream the election was "stolen." They are doing it solely for self-enrichment and to protect themselves from criminal prosecution for their acts. When they are done, we are not going to recognize the place – or indeed, the world they’ve left behind.

Not much like Watergate at all, in my opinion.
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Old 03-27-2019, 09:54 PM
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When they are done, we are not going to recognize the place – or indeed, the world they’ve left behind.
That's what they said about Nixon, too.

And in a way they were right. Trust in government has nearly disappeared since Vietnam and Watergate. Reagan was allowed to get away with making the government the enemy. Trump's damning it as the swamp and the deep state are a direct outgrowth of that.

Somehow, a new generation of politicians will have to make Americans trust government again. Whether that's possible in an internet age is doubtful, but the country can't be saved otherwise. Of all the million faults the right has, that may be the ultimate.
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Old 03-27-2019, 10:43 PM
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That's what they said about Nixon, too.

And in a way they were right. Trust in government has nearly disappeared since Vietnam and Watergate. Reagan was allowed to get away with making the government the enemy. Trump's damning it as the swamp and the deep state are a direct outgrowth of that.

Somehow, a new generation of politicians will have to make Americans trust government again. Whether that's possible in an internet age is doubtful, but the country can't be saved otherwise. Of all the million faults the right has, that may be the ultimate.
Having lived through it, I agree with you to a point. I remember the sick feeling of watching Nixon's criminal behavior as it was revealed. How it undermined my trust in government. I also remember how unsettled I felt for years after, unease at the rise of the Moral Majority (sic) and Newt Gingrich's Contract with America, along with the Right's willingness to demonize anything offered by Democrats. They certainly exploited the lingering Nixon stench of Something is Not Right in America.

But I think the distrust of government that led to the Era of Trump was much more an outgrowth of BushCo lying us into a huge, pointless costly war with Iraq, together with a complete underestimation/appreciation of all that Obama accomplished in his 8 years despite tremendous and frequently unwarranted opposition by Republicans. Republicans exploited the very real pain suffered by citizens arising out of Bush's blunders with relentless focus -- and, sadly, success.
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Old 03-28-2019, 08:58 AM
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I’m a little gobsmacked at one omission in all the previous posts that makes our present day situation so different – and so much more dangerous – than Watergate.

Chiefly, Watergate was a national concern. Nixon and his henchmen were far fewer than the number Trump controls (or rather, who control him), and they were all American-born. In contrast, Trump has welcomed and coordinated his efforts with adversarial foreign actors – and not just Russians. The House of Saud is having their way with us, too. (Reuters)

Those foreign interests happen to align with the goals of our own American oligarchy, who are all too happy to turn a blind eye and accept their illegal assistance, along with the evangelical nutjobs who have somehow persuaded themselves that Trump is their tool to facilitate the second coming because he’ll force women to have children they don’t want and can’t care for, and he might just bring about their Rapture. Look at the lunatics who are running the show today: Pence, Pompeo, Bolton, Kushner, DeVos, McConnell, Nunes, Jordan. We all know the players. The end justifies the means, and this is very different than how things were during Watergate.
There's so much right in this post - I wish I could rep it a million.

I think it's important for people to understand the shift that is occurring in their own government. I know people think I'm some kind of bat-shit insane conspiracy nutter when I speak of oligarchy and plutocracy taking over the government, but that's exactly what it is. It's a struggle between private power and public power, which isn't really a new struggle, but one that has reached a new phase. And in this phase, we're at the point at which those who are in power, presumably to serve the interests of the American people, simply don't; they're using their government high office only insofar as it serves their interests. Russian klepocratic oligarchs and others, like the House of Saud, see opportunities to align their interests with those of American oligarchs, who don't have nearly the same attachment to democratic values and therefore don't feel compelled to criticize their attacks on civil liberties in their countries. On the surface, people still assume that because we have elections and that we still have functioning institutions that we still live in the same old democracy we always have, but public confidence in these institutions is eroding to the point where functional democracy as we know it could collapse relatively soon. At the state level, it is already beginning to crack in some cases, and that's true even at the federal level.

Regarding the evangelicals, I think it's important to remember that it's not just religion that matters to them; it's also money and power they desire. The Falwells, the Devoses...they ain't in the poorhouse. It's just like it was throughout much of Medieval Europe: the religious zealots use God to gain wealth and power. They use God as a smokescreen to sucker their devotees into believing that it's all part of God's plan that our lives suck and that the lord's messengers are obscenely wealthy.

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During Watergate, there was still collegiality in Congress. People were better educated about civics and how their government was meant to work. They understood its success centered on compromise. The rule of law mattered. We had the filibuster. We had the draft, meaning more people had actual skin in the game. Citizens understood the importance of the separation of church and state. They also had a much better grasp on history, meaning they could still appreciate the importance of international alliances and were much more clear-eyed about the hostile foreign actors. Diplomacy mattered.
The early 20th Century, which is the time during which the adults of the Watergate era were born and raised, was a time in which people began to value public institutions and also working cooperatively in the public interest. The first half of the 20th Century was a time in which 'people power' reached new heights, and the idea of shared sacrifice and doing things in the public interest mattered more. This is probably because a generation of people lived through the Great Depression and World War Two - challenges which affected nearly everyone in the country in some way or another. The adults during the Watergate era lived through WPA, TVA, and wartime rations. Big government wasn't the enemy; it was something that could work for people if we had the right people running it.

Furthermore, the early 20th Century was an era in which we began to believe in the power of science. Despite the objections of fundamentalists, most people gradually began to embrace scientific discovery as something that benefited humankind. We developed new vaccines. We cleaned up drinking water. We had improved sanitation in public places. And as a result, we lived longer and healthier lives. We didn't claim any of the diseases they cured to be fakes or hoaxes.

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Understand the projection at work today that had no role during Watergate: When Trump screams, “Rigged!” it’s because he is rigging. When Republicans holler, “Voter fraud!” it’s because they are actively tampering with the vote.
This, precisely.

It is republicans who are actively attempting to undermine the public's trust in government because they are the ones who stand to benefit. That's what explains why they don't give a shit about the federal deficit or the national debt now -- because they never did, and they only do when a progressive comes to office and wants to use the power of the presidency to raise taxes on the rich to pay for things that benefit the rest of us. That's why - and I say this in complete seriousness - Republicans want to throw the budget so far out of alignment that they will force everyone to make a choice between funding the military or funding government assistance - or default. And if progressives for the military, then they'll probably claim that we're denying soldiers and veterans their pay and call for a military takeover of the United States. We are living with fascists. Don't like that term? Okay, then we're living with oligarchal authoritarians who won't stop destroying this country because they don't really believe in a United States of America unless they control it. It's up to the general public to understand what's happening here and stop them before it's too late.

Last edited by asahi; 03-28-2019 at 09:00 AM.
  #29  
Old 03-28-2019, 09:04 AM
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And if progressives for the military, then they'll probably claim that we're denying soldiers and veterans their pay and call for a military takeover of the United States.
Sorry, missed the edit window: if progressives vote to cut funding for the military...
  #30  
Old 03-28-2019, 09:59 AM
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I’m sort of getting the sense that Watergate and its results are romanticized in some circles, like Nixon had a 0% approval rating and was forced to resign by Democrats and Republicans in equal measure working together singing kumbaya for the good of the country. I sort of wonder if this is widespread, and if it’s harming expectations and such today.

So I thought I’d ask my Doper elders (heh) who remember all this firsthand. Obviously, there are many changes in government and society between then and now (not the least of which is conservative news and media), but I’d like to hear your direct impressions and comparisons of the DC and national reaction between Nixon and Trump.
On the day the Watergate break-in and bust made the news my wife and I looked at each other and both of us said, "Nixon's the one", which was his campaign slogan in 1968. It took more than two years to prove it, but Nixon left the smoking gun of those tapes.

As soon as it became clear the Russians interfered with the 2016 election, I believed Trump was involved. I still do, Barr or no. Proving it might be impossible since Trump is more of a mafia don than Tricky Dick.

The Trump administration is orders of magnitude worse than Nixon's. It feels far worse. I never feared Nixon might declare himself president for life. I have at least a little fear Trump might do so. Nixon was politically corrupt, but not very corrupt personally. Trump has been rolling in corruption all his life. Nixon at least went to church occasionally. Trump meets with right wing religous nutjobs only when he does something to weaken the 1st amendment.

The only time I was concerned Nixon might blow up the world was during the 1973 Yom Kippur War. I worry about Trump doing that every single day.

Last edited by BigAppleBucky; 03-28-2019 at 09:59 AM.
  #31  
Old 03-30-2019, 10:04 AM
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I cannot imagine Trump, looking at a proposal to fight a fire, saying, "But it would be wrong."
  #32  
Old 04-13-2019, 07:42 PM
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I’m a little gobsmacked at one omission in all the previous posts that makes our present day situation so different – and so much more dangerous – than Watergate.

Chiefly, Watergate was a national concern. Nixon and his henchmen were far fewer than the number Trump controls (or rather, who control him), and they were all American-born. In contrast, Trump has welcomed and coordinated his efforts with adversarial foreign actors – and not just Russians. The House of Saud is having their way with us, too. (Reuters)

Those foreign interests happen to align with the goals of our own American oligarchy, who are all too happy to turn a blind eye and accept their illegal assistance, along with the evangelical nutjobs who have somehow persuaded themselves that Trump is their tool to facilitate the second coming because he’ll force women to have children they don’t want and can’t care for, and he might just bring about their Rapture. Look at the lunatics who are running the show today: Pence, Pompeo, Bolton, Kushner, DeVos, McConnell, Nunes, Jordan. We all know the players. The end justifies the means, and this is very different than how things were during Watergate.

During Watergate, there was still collegiality in Congress. People were better educated about civics and how their government was meant to work. They understood its success centered on compromise. The rule of law mattered. We had the filibuster. We had the draft, meaning more people had actual skin in the game. Citizens understood the importance of the separation of church and state. They also had a much better grasp on history, meaning they could still appreciate the importance of international alliances and were much more clear-eyed about the hostile foreign actors. Diplomacy mattered.

Lots more people recognized the emotion of shame.

Now it’s a winner-take-all smash ‘n grab. The criminals in power are monetizing, selling out, stealing everything not nailed down as fast as they can, without regard to how vulnerable it leaves our national security or the well being of our citizens or our government institutions. In fact, undermining our government institutions is the feature, not a bug. Waving a rebel flag and wearing a stupid red hat constitutes patriotism.

Understand the projection at work today that had no role during Watergate: When Trump screams, “Rigged!” it’s because he is rigging. When Republicans holler, “Voter fraud!” it’s because they are actively tampering with the vote. There will be a citizenship question on the 2020 census, because it skews favorable for Republicans and is no longer a means of counting the actual number of people in the country. For selfish personal gain, Trump and his party will zealously exploit racial, religious and cultural schisms for as long as they can to stay in power. He has his echo chambers in Fox "News" and social media as his force multipliers.

Trump and his minions are going to be frenetically busy over the next couple of years, tearing down every norm we’ve recognized since the inception of this nation. They will welcome both foreign and domestic interference with the 2020 election. Even if Dems prevail, they will not go peacefully. The will scream the election was "stolen." They are doing it solely for self-enrichment and to protect themselves from criminal prosecution for their acts. When they are done, we are not going to recognize the place – or indeed, the world they’ve left behind.

Not much like Watergate at all, in my opinion.
Quoted in full because, alas, I cannot dispute a single word.
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Old 04-15-2019, 01:51 PM
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Watergate was much different. Then, you had the government trying to use the IRS against its political opponents, and bugging them. Totally different. And of course, the investigation into Watergate actually found something against the President.

Regards,
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  #34  
Old 04-15-2019, 01:59 PM
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Watergate was much different. Then, you had the government trying to use the IRS against its political opponents, and bugging them. Totally different. And of course, the investigation into Watergate actually found something against the President.
No matter how cute you think you're being, you should avoid using Investor's Business Daily as a cite. The only difference between them and the Onion is that IBD believes its satire.
  #35  
Old 04-15-2019, 02:16 PM
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I’m sort of getting the sense that Watergate and its results are romanticized in some circles, like Nixon had a 0% approval rating and was forced to resign by Democrats and Republicans in equal measure working together singing kumbaya for the good of the country. I sort of wonder if this is widespread, and if it’s harming expectations and such today.

So I thought I’d ask my Doper elders (heh) who remember all this firsthand. Obviously, there are many changes in government and society between then and now (not the least of which is conservative news and media), but I’d like to hear your direct impressions and comparisons of the DC and national reaction between Nixon and Trump.
Well, I was alive...I think I was around 12 or 13, if memory serves. What I remember most was my mom or one of my aunts were listening to things on the radio, and the announcer guy said something like Nixon resigns! and whoever it was said something like 'thank God!'. That always struck me. Other than that, I remember in my family (Hispanic and VERY Democrat) he was not well loved even before this, and they were all pretty much in lock step that he was a crook and had to go. I can't recall any sort of alternative narrative at the time than that, but then at that time there weren't any Republicans in the family, and we didn't have access to the internet or 24 hour news (or even a TV in my house). There was the news paper, which I didn't read then, and radio, which I mostly listened to if an adult had it on, and was mainly in Spanish and played mariachi type music.
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  #36  
Old 04-15-2019, 02:27 PM
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For the OP: Season One of Slate's "Slow Burn" podcast attempts to portray "what was it like to live through Watergate?" through various means, including looking at media coverage and interviews with bit players. It's made by a team that was too young to "live through" it, but is old enough to draw connections to what's going on now.

Worth a listen. On the question of Nixon's popularity during the sordid saga, Episode 5 is particularly good.
  #37  
Old 04-15-2019, 03:39 PM
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No matter how cute you think you're being, you should avoid using Investor's Business Daily as a cite. The only difference between them and the Onion is that IBD believes its satire.
That the government bugged Trump Tower is an established fact, and therefore your suggestion will be given all the consideration it deserves.

Regards,
Shodan
  #38  
Old 04-15-2019, 03:50 PM
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That the government bugged Trump Tower is an established fact, and therefore your suggestion will be given all the consideration it deserves.

Regards,
Shodan
Yes, this is an established fact that the government was tapping the phones at Trump Tower. What isn’t a fact, and likely not true, is that this was done because Trump was a political enemy of the people who ordered the bugging. The reason it was done is because there was legitimate concern that Russian interests were working with Trump.
  #39  
Old 04-15-2019, 04:10 PM
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Apologies for the double post. My understanding is that while Trump himself was not the target, their was legitimate suspicion that someone in his campaign was working with the Russians.
  #40  
Old 04-15-2019, 04:48 PM
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That the government bugged Trump Tower is an established fact, and therefore your suggestion will be given all the consideration it deserves.
Oh, well, we're being serious then.

OK. Seriously stand up for that post and state that you honestly consider both of those events comparable to what Nixon did in Watergate.
  #41  
Old 04-18-2019, 04:36 AM
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No, most everyone thought Nixon was a crook. Some defended him as a effective crook. Still, a few hardcore GOP supporters thought he was framed.
Like Roger Stone? Stone likely spent time on his knees for Nixon if you catch my drift.
  #42  
Old 04-18-2019, 08:29 AM
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Lots of good responses so far. I was a senior in high school during the Saturday Night Massacre. As I recall:

We had divisions, to be sure. But we all read the same papers and watched the same television news. Whether you watched ABC, CBS, or NBC for the evening news, the facts were the same. Now, you can completely insulate yourself from reality and watch a cable news channel that puts Pravda and Tass to shame.

Republicans in Congress did not see themselves as subservient to the president. They were perfectly willing to impeach and convict Nixon if that's where the facts lead. Now, DJT could march into the National Archives and burn the original Constitution and Mitch McConnell would say "this still means we get to appoint right wing judges, right? Cool."

A Republican, Howard Baker, asked the key question: What did the president know and when did he know it? Compare that to the shenanigans that Devin Nunes pulled when he lead his committee.

When we all figured out that Nixon was a crook, nobody thought that he was a patsy for Khrushchev. Foreign countries didn't funnel money to Nixon in an attempt to curry favor.

Mostly, in 1974 we had two responsible political parties. Now we only have one.
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