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Sunday, June 17, 2007

This Day in History: The Watergate Arrests

On this day in history:

June 17, 1972: Five men were arrested for burglarizing the Democratic Party Headquarters in the Watergate complex in Washington, DC. The men all worked for the reelection of President Nixon. The event was the beginning of the Watergate affair.

1972 was the year the 18 year olds got the vote in America, and it was also the year I turned 18.
The Vietnam war had been raging for years, with exponentially growing opposition to it. John Lennon had written "Give Peace a Chance", Bob Dylan had written "Blowing in the Wind". Students had been gunned down at Kent State. The Democratic convention had not been held yet, but the front runner was George McGovern who went on to win his party's nomination.

America wanted the war to end and George McGovern was the "peace candidate". Yet McGovern went down in a landslide vote which re-elected Nixon. Five months elapsed between the arrests for the break in at the Watergate and the election in November. Five months in which people had been told about the break in yet they STILL re-elected Nixon.

I attended a McGovern rally with my father at my high school that summer after I graduated. My high school was Whittier High School, the same high school which Nixon attended and at which Pat Nixon taught English. The auditorium was packed. Leonard Nimoy (Dr. Spock) was there and the hopes were high that given the situation, McGovern would win. History tells us that our hopes were dashed and then Nixon resigned in disgrace. That was the year that my father for the first time voted Democrat. He was NOT going to vote for the criminal Nixon.

The parallels between what happened then and what is going on now in our country are mind-boggling. But the crimes of Nixon did not come near the crimes of the present administration. One must also remember that in 1972 there were only three major news channels and the internet did not exist. Now there are MANY news outlets and instant communication via the internet can give us news from across the globe in minutes.

Below are three videos. The first was aired on June 19th, 1972 with Walter Cronkite and Barry Sarafin reporting on the arrests from the break in. The second two videos were aired Oct 27th of that year just days before the election at Walter Cronkite's absolute insistence.

Has America learned from it's mistakes? No they have not and I do not know when they ever will.
Video 1" "Beginning of the End" Video 2&3 "The Watergate Affair". Both aired on CBS

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