August 08, 2014

#Watergate after 40 years — the #Vietnam angle on why it happened

I'm old enough, as neither a Boomber nor a Gen Xer, but an honest-to-goodness Tweener, or '70s kid, to remember well August 9, 1974 and the resignation of Richard M. Nixon over Watergate. Well enough to remember how he looked drained and pasty-faced all while sweating hard.

Well, as an adult, having read history books, I know that a mix of his pores and sweat glands, and a body chemistry that didn't deal well with alcohol in any quantity, led to the look — along with the obvious stress, of course.

But, what led to the moment?

Late October, 1968, arguably.

I just came across this great essay from 2012 which says that Watergate all started near the finish line of the election that year, and Nixon's arguably treasonous, or at least Logan Act violating, dalliance with Anna Chennault to get South Vietnam to hold off on any peace talks agreement until after the election.

Nixon was given, through channels, an indistinct yet clear warning by Lyndon B. Johnson that he knew just what was happening.

So, having lost to Jack Kennedy in 1960, and hinting at dirty tricks there, and expecting Teddy, even post-Chappaquiddick, in 1972, he was worried about more snooping. Or past dirt coming back to life. (Oh, on 1960 cheating? Quite possible in Texas of Landslide Lyndon fame even as it was moving Republican, but only at the local level; Texas reverted Democratic until 1972 after having voted for Ike both times. In Illinois, famous for Nixon's hints, the commonly accepted story is he dropped his demand for a Cook County recount when Democrats countered that all of Illinois would have to face the same. And he needed both, not to win, but just to block Kennedy-Johnson from winning, with Harry Byrd in the race, too.)

So, already in 1971, besides the Pentagon Papers burglary, Nixon's group hit the Brookings Institute, on the belief that proof of LBJ's 1968 spying on his contacts with Chennault were there. But, as Robert Parry explains at the link above, Walt Rostow had that information, and after LBJ died, to do his best to hide it, he gave the documents to the LBJ library.

Unfortunately, as Robert Parry also notes at his linked essay, folks like Woodward and Bernstein still refuse to look seriously at late October and early November 1968, and the arguable treason of Richard M. Nixon.

Watergate was bad.

Deliberately getting soldiers killed to win election was far, far worse.

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