(Washington, DC) – On August 8, 1974, President Richard Nixon (R-CA) addressed the country and announced his plans to resign.
“I shall resign the Presidency effective at noon tomorrow,” Nixon told the nation that evening. “Vice President Ford will be sworn in as President at that hour in this office.”
On August 9, newly-sworn-in President Gerald Ford (R-MI) claimed that Americans’ “long national nightmare” was finally over.
It was only just beginning.
The “nightmare” was of Nixon’s doing, abusing his powers as president to cover up a simple burglary – in Washington’s Watergate complex – on June 17, 1972. Nixon’s power-hungry paranoia and greed, coupled with his unfathomable need to secretly record and preserve conversations taking place in the Oval Office, finally led him to the gates of impeachment in 1974
During this time, Nixon continued to deny culpability.
“People have got to know whether or not their president is a crook,” said Nixon, during a November 17, 1973, Q&A session with the press. “Well, I’m not a crook.”
More than seven months later, as Nixon waved good-bye from the White House lawn to his supporters, he flashed his “V for Victory” sign.
“It was the kind of victory on par with Saddam Hussein and Bashar al-Assad declaring victory in their respectively rigged presidential elections,” said a political scientist, speaking on condition of anonymity. Or even on par with Al Sharpton’s declaration of victory following the Tawana Brawley case.”
In 1987, a grand jury determined that Brawley had made up her story about being attacked by a gang of white men, including Dutchess County Assistant District Attorney Steven Pagones. In turn, Pagones filed a lawsuit against Brawley – and her advisors, including Sharpton – which he won.
After the verdict, Sharpton declared victory.
The 26-month saga of Watergate severely tested the faith of average, ordinary, everyday Americans in their Federal government – as well as any and all elected officials. Their faith was to be tested again on September 8, when, to the dismay of a majority of Americans, Ford issued Nixon a “full, free, and absolute pardon.”
Their faith has been tested ever since, and 40 years later, the nightmare continues.
“Americans have witnessed scandal after scandal after scandal,” said a political scientist, speaking on condition of anonymity. “Not just at the local and state levels, but at the Federal level as well. Our faith has been tested, and we’ve become more and more cynical about government overall. Watergate was only the start.”
|Benghazigate||An attempt by Congressional Republicans to blame President Obama (D-IL/Kenya) for the September 11, 2011, terrorist attacks on two United States compounds in Benghazi, Libya.|
|Bridgegate||New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s (R-NJ) self-inflicted wound can be traced back to September 2013, when he and his lieutenants forced lane closures on the George Washington Bridge, in retribution against Mark “The Little Serbian” Sokolich (D), the mayor of Fort Lee, NJ, who did not support Christie in the November 2013 election.|
|Heaven’s Gate||A doomsday cult led by Marshall “Do” Applewhite, Heaven’s Gate members believed the Earth was about to be “recycled” and needed to leave by committing suicide – over a three-day period, from March 24 – 26, 1997 – and hitching a ride on the spaceship allegedly tailing the Hale–Bopp Comet.|
|Iran-Contra||President Ronald Reagan’s (R-CA) attempt to circumvent Congress by selling arms to Iran and funneling money to the Nicaraguan Contras.|
|Iraqgate||President George W. Bush’s (R-TX) bald-faced lie regarding Iraq’s Saddam Hussein possessing weapons of mass destruction (WMD). The WMD argument led to the March 2003 invasion of Iraq on false pretenses.|
|Lernergate||An attempt by Congressional Republicans to blame President Obama (D-IL/Kenya) for the IRS’ improper targeting of Republican Tea Partyist groups who applied for tax-exempt status during the 2010 and 2012 elections. The investigation is mainly focused on former IRS official Lois Lerner.|
|Monicagate||Refers to the scandal involving President Bill Clinton and White House intern Monica Lewinsky. The incident led to Clinton’s impeachment, though he was acquitted in his Senate trial.|
|Weinergate||With a name like Representative Anthony Weiner’s (D-NY), it probably wasn’t the smartest idea in the world to sext photos of his private parts.|
And, in spite of Watergate, Nixon remains beloved to a significant number of Americans. During Nixon’s funeral in 1994, Senator Bob Dole (R-KS) eulogized Nixon by saying the “second half of the 20th century will be known as the age of Nixon.”
“It just goes to show how short-term and skewed the memories of some Americans are,” said a political scientist, speaking on condition of anonymity. “That is unless the ‘Age of Nixon’ means the age of scandals and lying, crooked politicians. In that case, Dole was spot-on.”