June 2, 2002

Why Watergate Means the World to Them

By: Timothy P. Carney

Judy Woodruff, host of CNN’s “Inside Politics,” spent a whole day sitting in front of the Watergate Hotel. One entire day on CNN was dedicated to remembering Watergate.

If we’re going to understand our parents’ generation we have to grasp that the elites of that age consider the removal of Richard Nixon the single greatest thing that ever happened to them. And it is helpful to examine why.

First, getting Nixon out of the White House was not about Watergate. The break-in and the cover-up were the excuses. They couldn’t stand the fact that he was in office, and they were driven even more insane by the fact that he won again, and won big, beating their preachy leftist George McGovern handily in 1972.

When news of the break-in came out, and the first hints developed that Nixon was involved, the attitude among the elites was, “we knew he was no good, now the rest of the world sees it.”

Also, Americans, especially the elite, already knew politicians were corrupt. They knew Kennedy stole the election in Texas and Illinois. They knew LBJ was crooked. So a cover-up in the White House was certainly not some cancer on a pristine body that needed to be eliminated. It was more like finding dirt in a college boy’s dorm room.

But the vendetta wasn’t ideological either. Nixon may have come into the White House as a conservative, but he certainly didn’t stay that way for long. He surrounded himself with the wrong people and quickly “grew” in office. By the time he was running again in 1972, it was clear that he was to the left of JFK on most issues.

The reason Watergate was the greatest thing that ever happened to the baby boomer elites was that they drove out a man they hated more than anyone else in the country. The reason they hated him so much was that he was not one of them. He was not part of the elite, and did not play their games.

Nixon was born poor and ugly, awkward and uninterested (and frankly incapable of participating) in the playboy Georgetown lifestyle. He had never been popular, but he infuriated the left by not seeking their acceptance, or not seeking it hard enough.

In JFK they had had a beautiful prince, they had their Camelot. He was rich, had grown up rich, and spoke lofty words while not bothering with petty bourgeois moralities. The left lost him and got Nixon, and in 1972 the American people made it clear they wanted him back.

So given all that frustration, just think of the power-high it gave the left to remove him from office. Among the tools at the elite’s disposal, the academy had proven effective in destroying American support for the war, but to overturn the will of the electorate the left needed to call on the media.

We all know the story of how it unfolded. We know it because they will never let us forget. Watergate takes up entire chapters in our history books, entire days of programming on “news” networks. Our teachers have made “Watergate” and “Nixon” synonyms. Our anchors bring it up whenever they can.

The media and academic elite never will let us forget what they were able to do to this man because it sends an important message:

You are allowed to be a Republican, you are allowed even to be a conservative, but you must be one of them. If you are one of them, if you go to their parties and care about their magazines, they will protect you, like they did with JFK and Clinton. If not, they will not only take away your job, they will humiliate you and publicly psychoanalyze you in the most demeaning way.

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