The Fall of a President

Movie poster of All The Presidents Men featuring Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman.
Movie poster of "All The President's Men" featuring Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman.

On January 20, 1969, Richard M. Nixon was sworn in as President of the United States and became the 37th president of the Union.  Little did anyone know he was to be the only President of the United States to ever resign from office.

As required by law Nixon said, “I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States”.

He, and his closest followers broke the law and paid for it.  In the face of likely impeachment and conviction for his role in the Watergate scandal, Nixon resigned on August 9, 1974.  His successor, Gerald Ford, issued a pardon for any federal crime Nixon may have committed while in office.

Nixon suffered a stroke on April 18, 1994, and died four days later, at the age of 81.

The fall of President Nixon began in June 1972.   During a second burglary on June 17, 1972, to replace a malfunctioning bug and collect more information, five burglars were arrested and the Watergate scandal began to unfold.

What is exactly Watergate?  Watergate is a complex which consists of six buildings on the site (i.e., a hotel, two office buildings, three apartment buildings and a retail center).  On the sixth floor of the office building, the Democratic National Committee had its  national headquarters.

On May 28, 1972, a team of burglars working for Nixon’s re-election campaign put wiretaps and took photos in and near the DNC chairman’s office. The wiretaps were monitored from rooms at the Howard Johnson’s Motor Lodge hotel across the street at 2601 Virginia Avenue NW.  The second time the burglars broke into the DNC’s office they were caught.

As a consequence of this incident, several of Nixon’s closest advisors were indicted and ultimately Nixon resigned on August 9, 1974.  Nixon and his staff conspired to cover up the break in as early as six days after it occurred.

A comprehensive investigation made two Washington Post reporters, Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein revealed that this burglary was one of many illegal activities authorized and carried out by Nixon’s staff and loyalists. They also revealed the immense scope of crimes and abuses, which included campaign fraud, political espionage and sabotage, illegal break-ins, improper tax audits, illegal wiretapping on a massive scale, and a secret slush fund laundered in Mexico to pay those who conducted these operations. This secret fund was also used as hush money to buy silence of the seven men who were indicted for the  June 17 break-in.

Wikipedia Encyclopedia)
Richard Nixon bids farewell to his staff on August 9, 1974, as his daughter Julie Nixon Eisenhower and son-in-law David Eisenhower look on. (Credit: Wikipedia Encyclopedia)

Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein wrote the book, All The President’s Men, in 1974.  The book chronicles the investigative reporting of Woodward and Bernstein from Woodward’s initial report on the Watergate break-in through the resignations of H.R. Halderman and John Ehrlichman, and the revelation of the Nixon tapes by Alexander Butterfield in 1973.

It relates the events behind the major stories the duo wrote for the Post, naming some sources who had previously refused to be identified for their initial articles, notably Hugh Sloan. It also gives detailed accounts of Woodward’s secret meetings with his source Deep Throat whose identity was kept secret for over 30 years.

Vanity Fair magazine revealed that Deputy Director of the FBI, William Mark Felt, Sr. was Deep Throat on May 31, 2005.  For more than 30 years, the identity of Deep Throat was one of the biggest mysteries of  American politics and journalism, the source of much public curiosity and speculation. Woodward and Bernstein insisted they would not reveal his identity until he died or consented to have his identity revealed.

In 1976, a movie was produced based on the book, “All The President’s Men”. The motion picture had the same title.  This picture is a powerful reminder that all citizens must be guardians of the law.  The job performed by Bob Woodward, Carl Bernstein and The Washington Post is remarkable and shows us that even the President of the United States—or any other country—is not above the law.

I viewed this picture a couple of days ago and greatly enjoyed the high-quality performance of Dustin Hoffman as Carl Bernstein and Robert Redford as Bob Woodward.  The book and the movie should be read and seen by all citizens who love their country.

As the United States enters a new election on November 4th., and a new President will be sworn in on January 2009, it’s utterly important to bear in mind that he is obligated to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States.  Or else he will have to pay the consequences.  In Panama we will follow the same political process next year.

Definitely a must-see movie.  Can’t stress this recommendation enough.  All The President’s Men is not only about the role of the press in 1970, but also one of the most successful political movies in American history, both artistically and commercially.  Good Day.

Stream Movie:  All The President’s Men (Length:  2 hours, 18 minutes)

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