Saturday, January 31, 2009

Watergate and other mistakes

There was today an interesting paper about Watergate and the tapes transcripts by Patricia Cohen in the New York Times.

When you have a job and kids, you listen to the news, have a look at the paper, but you never have the time to study a political subject in depth. That is how a lot us ignore the facts an dwelve into conspiration theories or faulty judgments. For example, I never believed that I was told the whole truth about what happened to Apollo 13: every day when the accident happened the news stories were confusing and there was no objective link between all the things that went wrong: no explanation. It did not dawn on me that nobody knew at the time what was going on ; I only understood what happened when Tom Hanks, blessed his soul, made a movie about it.
During Watergate, I misjudged what happened because I candidly believed what the White House was saying. It did not come to my mind that the President of the United States would tell blatant lies. Since I retired, I had the time to read about 15 books on Watergate, and then I bought the tapes. You got to listen to the original tapes, though they are very difficult to understand, because listening to a "reading" by an actor gives you a very different take of what was said.
For what it is worth, here is what I think about Watergate:
1) Republicans who say that Nixon was a victim because "everybody else does it" never listened to the tapes. It is like saying nowadays that everybody is a Blagojevich: only fascists would say that.
2) President Nixon often sounds very uncertain, seeking advice: he lowers his voice, leaves his sentences unfinished and sounds rather pitiful. His "advisers" never have the guts to give him any advice at all. I do know that Nixon did not like to be contradicted, so this may be a catastrophe of his own making, but at some times President Nixon sounds unbearably lonely and surrounded by cowards.There is a lot of Richard III in Nixon, from the paranoia to Despair and die!
3) The tapes are extremely difficult, and instead of attacking Stanley I. Kutler for errors and omissions, one should just publish corrections and be thankful to the man. But of course it is less conductive to publicity than to attack him.
4) Howard Dean comes out as the worst lawyer in the history of mankind. And not a very decent person to boot.

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