“Richard Nixon: A Legend in His Own Mind!”
“I’m no Crook!”
I don’t know about you but I kinda enjoyed seeing so much coverage of Richard Nixon on TV this past week. It’s hard to believe that 40 years have passed since the Watergate scandal caused the demise of old “Tricky Dicky” and forced him to resign from the presidency. Yep, all those years ago on August 8th 1974 he appeared before the nation on live TV and announced that he would resign from office so that the “process of healing which is so desperately needed in America” could begin.
True to his word (which was quite unusual for Nixon) on August 9th he resigned the presidency and passed the torch to Vice President Gerald Ford and just like that Nixon became the first president to ever resign from office.
You probably don’t remember, but it was a very significant moment in American History. Just two weeks before his resignation a Washington grand jury quietly indicted the Watergate Seven for conspiracy to hinder the Watergate investigation and concluded that our president, Richard M. Nixon was involved in the cover-up and named him as an unindicted co-conspirator. That was the beginning of the end for old Dick Nixon.
The investigation leading up to his resignation was centered on White House involvement in the Watergate break in and the subsequent attempt at covering it up. From the beginning Nixon adamantly denied all knowledge of White House involvement and proclaimed his innocence, but no one believed him. The question on everyone’s mind was “What did the president know and when did he know it? Once the grand jury made it clear that the evidence pointed to Nixon’s involvement, it was all downhill from there.
When 64 of Nixon’s personal White House tapes were subpoenaed by the special prosecutor in the investigation Nixon was up in arms. He initially refused to hand over any of the tapes, citing ‘executive privilege’, but as pressure continued to mount, he eventually agreed to provide typed, edited transcripts to the Judiciary Committee. He even made a television appearance three months before resigning to announce his decision to release the transcripts. It was not well received by the American public. One week after the speech the House Judiciary Committee began impeachment hearings.
The real bomb hit in late July when the Supreme Court in a unanimous decision announced that the president’s claim of executive privilege over the tapes were invalid, and they ordered the president to turn all of the tapes over to the special prosecutor. On July 30, 1974, President Nixon released the subpoenaed tapes. A few days later evidence was found on one of the tapes that proved that for more than two years the President had lied to the nation, to his closest aides, and to his own lawyers. The newly discovered “smoking gun” proved beyond a doubt that our president knew a whole lot more than he’d cared to admit to.
The nation was up in arms, and impeachment was a certainty. But that never happened, on August 9th Nixon resigned and vice president Gerald Ford took office. For weeks there was talk of criminal charges being brought against the former president, but in early September President Ford granted Nixon a full pardon. After all, what are friends for.
I was a young man of 23 then, and I will never forget the whole Watergate Scandal. Two years of political bull crap! I can still see our shifty eyed president on TV time after time lying through his teeth. I always thought he looked guilty as hell. Then when he couldn’t lie any longer, there he was on TV again, good old Tricky Dick, pouring his heart out to the American public, rambling, trying desperately to cover his ass. Looking sad and dejected, he simply resigned without ever really admitting his guilt. And the nation breathed a sigh of relief. Tricky Dickie had been caught holding the bag and no matter how many times he tried to pass it on, it always came back to him.
Funny, but I always liked Dick Nixon. Until the whole Watergate fiasco I thought he was a pretty good president. During his tenure he did some great things for civil rights and the space program as well as establishing relations with China and the Soviet Union. I would have continued to respect the man if he’d only had the cojones to own up to his mistakes. How can a guy who audio taped nearly every conversation in his oval office, deny wrong-doing when the proof was right there in his own voice? Do you know he went to his grave proclaiming his innocence? Unbelievable! He will never be forgotten!
“Dick Nixon: A Legend in His Own Mind”
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