Watergate Scandal: Nixon’s Critics and Defense Report

October 14, 2020 by Essay Writer

In Defense of Richard Nixon

This article explores a statement written by Dean Burch who was a special assistant to President Richard Nixon. The statement was written as a response to calls for Nixon’s resignation for his involvement in the Watergate scandal. The author starts by expressing his dissatisfaction with the reaction of Chicago Tribune’s editors who wanted Nixon to resign. The response is unexpected because the newspaper is respected by many Americans. The decision made by the editors cannot be ignored because they have a right to give their opinions. However, the process used to arrive at that decision should be closely scrutinized.

The editors stated that their decision was informed by revelations made in the White House transcripts that were released after the scandal. Their perceptions and expectations of the President changed after reading the transcripts. The information contained in the conversations contradicted the character displayed by Nixon in public. The author disagrees with that conclusion because in his opinion, the President was trying to explore different avenues in order to find out the truth regarding the Watergate scandal. He was trying to obey the law, keep public interests in mind, and protect the reputation of his officials (Burch, 1974).

The scandal was critical to the stability of the United States and therefore he had to proceed cautiously and act creatively. Moreover, he had to protect the presidency and the nation. The actions of the President were right with regard to the context in which they were performed. Decision-making is difficult especially in high levels of government. Therefore, Nixon did what was right for the country (Burch, 1974). The author agrees that certain revelations in the transcripts undermined Nixon’s values. However, proper understanding of the challenges and requirements of the presidency could help to understand why certain decisions were made.

Nixon’s reactions were not contrary to his character but mere reflections of the need for strong and flexible leadership (Burch, 1974). The decision made by the Chicago Tribune’s editors was biased because it was based on selective conversations that did not reflect the Nixon’s stand on America’s foreign and domestic policy. There are other conversations that reflect the president’s readiness to improve the lives of American citizens and enhance the effectiveness of the country’s foreign policy. Nixon might have acted irrationally and made some mistakes. However, his weaknesses are not a good enough reason for his impeachment.

The author of the article protects Nixon and faults the decision made by the Chicago Tribune’s editors. The views of the author are biased because he considers only one side of the issue. He agrees that the president could have made some mistakes. However, the author argues that Nixon’s role as the president allowed for strong and flexible leadership. The views might impact the reader’s understanding of the Watergate crisis in a negative way because he focuses on arguments that serve to defend the President. There is little mention of the irrational decisions made or any direct involvement. It is important for the reader to get a balanced perspective in order to understand the crisis properly. The defensive approach adopted by the author does not furnish the reader with information that enhances proper understanding of the issue. It is easy for the reader to absolve Nixon of any wrongdoing based on the author’s views.

Watergate: the unfinished business

This article criticizes President Nixon’s involvement and approach to the Watergate scandal. The author finds fault with Nixon’s speech that did not address his unethical behavior of lying and evading the scrutiny of the public and media that went on for many months. The President’s intention is to avoid the scandal altogether and hand over the matter to the courts. The author finds Nixon’s intentions of handing over the matter to the same institutions that should prosecute him ironical (Watergate, 1973). There are questions regarding whether he violated criminal laws with his involvement in the Watergate crisis.

The public needs to have trust and confidence in its leaders and a belief that the people elected into office will not break the law and corrupt government institutions. The author argues that Nixon’s speech did not convince the public that his administration was telling the truth and was not corrupting government institutions. According to the article, the Nixon did the least of what was expected of him as the president like accepting the resignation of two aides and Attorney General Kleindienst, appointment of a new attorney general, and dismissal of White house Counsel John Dean (Watergate, 1973).

These actions did not express the president’s willingness to conduct independent and unbiased investigations into the scandal. The speech did not say whether a special prosecutor would be appointed to conduct investigations (Watergate, 1973). However, the author commends him for taking responsibility for the actions of his officials and acknowledging the existence of the crisis that occurred under his watch. Nixon blamed the press and the courts for revealing sensitive information that his administration meant to keep private. There is need for an independent and transparent investigation into the scandal and drastic changes in the executive branch of the government in order to restore public’s trust and confidence.

The author takes a critical perspective in presenting personal views about the Watergate scandal as well as Nixon’s response. He does not defend the president but criticizes his evasive approach of addressing the situation. The article is not biased and addresses the issue openly and critically. The author’s views might impact the reader’s understanding of the Watergate scandal in a negative way because they heap the blame on Nixon primarily because the scandal was started and perpetuated by his administration. The author does not acknowledge that there were many other officials who were involved in the scandal and they should also be blamed for engaging in criminal activities. The author’s views might make the reader hate Nixon and lose confidence in his ability and willingness to address the issue appropriately.

How the Watergate scandal changed the public’s view of politics and politicians

The Watergate scandal changed the public’s view of politics and politicians because it revealed the many conspiracies and criminal activities that politicians engage in. In addition, the public lost confidence and trust in politicians because of their propensity to lie and corrupt government institutions in order to have their way (Olson, 2003). For example, President Nixon tried to stop the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Criminal Investigation Agency (CIA) from investigating the scandal (Zelizer, 2014). According to Nixon, it was part of a national security operation. After the scandal subsided, many people avoided joining politics because they were not willing to subject themselves to political indignities that the Nixon administration had engaged in and perpetuated.

People lost faith in their leaders’ abilities to protect government institutions and protect the constitution (Finney, 2012). The scandal made the public skeptical and cynical about government operations as well as the legality of some of its activities (Zelizer, 2014). Nixon corrupted the belief that presidents are ethical, honest, trustworthy, and great people. The crisis began an era that was characterized by cynicism and doubts regarding the morality of political leaders. People began to take the words of politicians with great caution because they doubted their authenticity (Anderson, 2006). On the other hand, the scandal gave politics a bad name and as a result many people avoided running for public offices (Zelizer, 2014). The Watergate crisis changed journalism because it led to the emergence of investigative journalism. Media houses changed their coverage of politicians and began focusing more on their weaknesses and private lives.

The press started focusing on the negative aspects of political leadership because of the loss of trust and confidence in elected leaders. The revelations made regarding the scandal eroded the trust that voters had on their elected officials (Finney, 2012). People began to believe the many denigrating arguments that were made against government, politics, and politicians. Today, politicians find it very difficult to convince voters that they will protect government institutions and the constitution from corruption by the unethical and criminal actions of government officials. Many people now consider politics to be a reserve of unethical people who run for public offices only for personal gains (Olson, 2003).

Watergate and the age of social media and Watergate

The Watergate scandal happened at a period when technology was not well developed and social media was nonexistent. If it were to happen in today’s society, its coverage would be better because people would have access to detailed and timely information. They would use their smartphones to create discussion forums that would explore the issue from different perspectives. In addition, they would use the devices to access information regarding the scandal from different sources such as government agencies, media houses, political parties, and religious organizations.

The scandal would not have lasted as long because the government would not be able to hide information and people would be always updated about its progress. In today’s society, the awareness created through social media would prompt people and civil societies to petition political leaders to impeach the president. The scandal lasted for a long period because dissemination of information was untimely and biased (Anderson, 2006). Innovations in technology are very helpful to the way that people understand current events because they facilitate the timely dissemination of information and creation of different platforms that explore issues from different perspectives. Therefore, it is easy to identify biases by accessing information from different sources and making personal conclusions.

On the other hand, people get the opportunity to share information and use online platforms to discuss issues in order to fully comprehend their scope and effects. Technological innovations enhance understanding of events because they combine auditory and visual aspects to cover events. For example, if the scandal were to happen in today’s world, the White house transcripts would be shared on the internet for people to make their own conclusions. Technology is an important aspect of communication that helps people understand current events by accessing information from different sources in a timely manner.

References

Anderson, D. (2006). Watergate: Scandal in the White House. New York, NY: Capstone.

Burch, D. (1974). In Defense of Richard Nixon. Web.

Finney, D. P. (2012). Watergate Scandal Changed the Political Landscape Forever. Web.

Olson, K. W. (2003). Watergate: The Presidential Scandal that Shook America. New York, NY: University Press of Kansas.

Watergate: The Unfinished Business. (1973). Web.

Zelizer, J. (2014). Distrustful Americans Still Live in Age of Watergate. Web.

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