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Watergate as the Largest Political Scandals in U.S. History

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watergate: The Presidential election of 1972 had two strong candidates,President Richard Nixon and George McGovern.

There were many issueswhich had a great deal of importance to the election. -=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-Category:miscellaneousPaper Title:watergateText:The Presidential election of 1972 had two strong candidates,President Richard Nixon and George McGovern. There were many issueswhich had a great deal of importance to the election. The Vietnam war andthe stability of the economy at the time were two main factors. The electionended in one the largest political scandals in U.S. history, being theWatergatebreak-in, and cover-up, by President Richard Nixon.

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The Democratic party had a large selection of candidates from whichto choose for the primary elections of 1972. There were many well knowncandidates who entered the race for the nomination. The leading contenderswere Edmund S.

Muskie of Maine, Senator George McGovern of SouthDakota and Hubert H. Humphrey of Minnesota. Other candidates who didn’treceive quite as much recognition were Alabama governor George C.

Wallace, Mayor Sam Yorty of Los Angeles, Rep. Wilbur D. Mills ofArkansas, Sen. Vance Hartke of Indiana, former Senator Eugene J.

McCarthy of Minnesota, Mayor John Lindsay of New York City and Rep.

Shirley Chisholm of New York. Chisholm was the first black to run in aseries of presidential primaries.” (Congressional Quarterly, “Guideto U.S.

Elections”, Third ed., 1994, pg.603-605.) 5Governor Wallace had a devastating moment in his campaign while inMaryland. “In early May a sick young man named Arthur Bremer altered thepolitics of 1972. As Governor Wallace campaigned toward certain victory inthe Maryland primary, Bremer stepped forward out of a shopping-centercrowd and shot him four times. Wallace survived, but at the cost of beingparalyzed from the waist down. Maryland’s voters surged out on election dayto give Wallace a huge victory, his last of 1972. While Wallace recuperated,the millions who would have voted for him as a Democratic or independentcandidate began to move in overwhelming proportions behind the candidacybegan to move in overwhelming proportions behind the candidacy of RichardNixon.” (Benton, William. “U.S. Election of 1972.”Encyclopedia BritannicaBook of the Year. pg.12-13, 1973 ed.)1When the California primary was approaching, Humphrey tried tosave the nomination for himself. “Humphrey excoriated his old senatefriend(McGovern) for his expensive ideas on welfare and his desire to cut thedefense budget. It almost worked. But McGovern won all of California’sgiant delegation, and beat Humphrey 44.3% to 39.1% in the popularvote.”5That loss spelled out the end for Humphrey’s Democratic nomination.

Many felt Edmund Muskie was sure to win the Democraticnomination for the election of 1972. “All political observers agreed onthecertainty that Senator Edmund Muskie of Maine would be the Democraticparty’s nominee.”1 “As the front-runner, he wanted to snare thenominationearly and so was committed to running in all of the first eight presidentialprimaries. Prominent Democratic politicians lined up eagerly to endorse him.

Among them: Gov. John Gilligan of Ohio; Leonard Woodcock, President ofthe United Auto Workers; Iowa Senator Harold Hughes; and PennsylvaniaGovernor Milton Shapp.”1 Muskie had many supporters, and a good chanceof receiving the nomination, perhaps even becoming the next President of theUnited States. President Nixon knew that Muskie had a good chance ofwinning and felt he had to do something to get Muskie out of the race. Nixonhad seven men who were loyal to him make up false press releases aboutMuskie, and his wife. These press releases claimed that Muskie had hadaffairs with both men and women, that he beat his wife, and then the topperwhich claimed that Muskies’ wife was an alcoholic. These false statementsdestroyed Muskies’ campaign and reputation of being a calm trustworthycandidate. Then one day “mounting the bed of a truck parked outside theoffices of the archconservative Manchester Union Leader, Muskie launchedan attack on the paper’s publisher, William Loeb. As he spoke of Loeb’sunflattering remarks about Mrs. Muskie, the senator’s voice cracked, and thecrowd saw tears form in his eyes.”1 This incident badly dented Muskie’simage. After that event, people saw Muskie as a weak person. They didn’twant a weak person running the country. “Muskie had finished fourth inPennsylvania, behind winner Humphrey, Wallace, and McGovern, and adistant second to McGovern in Massachusetts. He then withdrew withdignity.” 1 Muskie later said of this incident: “It changedpeople’s mindsabout me, of what kind of a guy I was. They were looking for a strong,steady man, and here I was weak.” ” (Congressional Quarterly,”Chronologyof Presidential Elections”, Fourth ed. 1994, pg.329-330)6After a long primary campaign, and all the primary elections, SenatorGeorge McGovern won the nomination for the Democratic party in the 1972presidential election. “McGovern did not get to deliver his acceptancespeech–perhaps the best speech of his career–until 2:48 a.m., when mosttelevision viewers were already in bed.”6 Senator McGovern had adifficultcampaign ahead of him. His opposition, President Richard Nixon, alreadyhad the upper hand on him because he had been elected President four yearsbefore. President Nixon was the Republican candidate. “President RichardNixon told a reporter that “the election was over the day he (Sen.

GeorgeMcGovern) was nominated.” “1 McGovern campaigned very hard.

“Between September 3 and September 15, the South Dakotan barnstormedthrough 29 cities and towns in 18 states covering some 14,000 miles andbeing seen by more than 175,000 people.” (U.S. News and World Report,”Can Democrats Close the Gap, Sept. 25, 1972, Vol. LXXXIII, No.13,pg.17-22)3 McGovern knew, if he wanted to win, he had to focus on theimportant issues of 1972.

There were four very important issues. These were the war inVietnam, the economy, foreign policy, and defense. The two major oneswere the war in Vietnam, and the economy. McGovern was sure that if hewas elected president, he would be able to end the war. “We will be abletoend the war by a simple plan that need not be kept secret: The immediatetotal withdrawal of all Americans from Southeast Asia.” (CongressionalQuarterly’s Guide to U.S. Elections, “1972 Conventions”, Third ed.,1994pg..127-132.)4 McGovern goes on to say in another interview that “I willstake my whole political career on being able to withdraw our forces and getour prisoners out within 90 days after inauguration. I really think I can doitfaster than that.” (U.S. News and World, “How McGovern Sees TheIssues,”August 7, 1972, Vol. LXXIII No.6, pg.18-22)8 McGovern, like everyoneelse wanted to end the war in Vietnam as soon as possible. McGovern feltthe Nixon could have ended the war years earlier, and could have spared allthose lives. “There’s nothing that we can negotiate now in ending thiswar thatwe couldn’t have done four years ago. We haven’t gained anything in thesefour years of continued slaughter that’s gone on in this presentAdministration.”8 “I’ll be one of those rejoicing even if Nixondoes end thiswar and it does accrue to his advantage. I just wish he had done it fouryearsago. If he had, I might not now be running for the President.”8 McGovernmakes it seem as though his sole purpose, and reason for wanting to becomePresident is to simply end the Vietnam war.

Nixon along with the Republican party, and their platform stated that”We will continue to seek a settlement of the Vietnam War which willpermitthe people of Southeast Asia to live in peace under political arrangements oftheir own choosing. We take specific note of the remaining major obstacle tosettlement-Hanoi’s demand that the United States overthrow the Saigongovernment and impose a Communist-dominated government on the SouthVietnamese. We stand unequivocally at the side of the President in his effortto negotiate honorable terms, and in his refusal to accept terms which woulddishonor this country.”4 “We insist that, before all Americanforces arewithdrawn from Vietnam, American prisoners must be returned and a fullaccounting made of the missing in action and of those who have died in enemyhands.” (U.S. News and World Report, “Promises RepublicanMake,” Sept.

4, 1972, Vol. LXXIII No.10, pg.28-29)2 Although the Republicans held thebasic idea that the Democrats did, which was to end the war in Vietnam assoon as possible, they didn’t specify an allotted amount of time in whichtheywould accomplish this goal as did the Democrats.

The second major issue of 1972 was the economy. “The Nixonrecord increased unemployment by 3 million people.”8 There were pricefreezes, and wage-price controls. McGovern and the Democrats stated thattheir goal was for full employment, and for those who are unable to work,thatthey would receive a guaranteed income. “The heart of a program ofeconomic security based on earned income must be creating jobs and trainingpeople to fill them. Millions of jobs — real jobs, not make-work — need tobe provided. Public service employment must be greatly expanded in orderto make the government the employer of last resort and guarantee a job forall.” “What I offer is a balanced, full-employment economy–wherewe canprovide enough, both to protect our interest abroad and to bring progress athome.”4 Part of McGovern’s economic plan included defense spending cutbacks. “What I offer is not simply a set of promises, but a specificplan topay for those promises. First, I would reduce by approximately 10 billiondollars in each of the next three years the rapidly escalating, lavish Nixonmilitary budget. Current spending wastes billions of dollars on planes thatdonot fly, and missiles that will not work. I will never permit America tobecomea second-rate power in the world. Neither can we permit America tobecome a second-rate society. And if we choose a reasonable militarybudget, we will not have to choose between the decline of our security andthe deterioration of our standard of life.”(U.S. News and World Report,”From McGovern: A New Blueprint For Taxes, Welfare,” Vol. LXXIIINo.11, pg.14-16)7 Our country does not only need to be strong militarilybut also economically. Our military is an important part of our economy, butit shouldn’t be one of the major influencing factors that determines thehealthof the economy. The Democrats felt that “Spending for military purposesisgreater by far than federal spending for education, housing, environmentalprotection, unemployment insurance or welfare. Unneeded dollars for themilitary at once add to the tax burden and pre-empt funds from programs ofdirect and immediate benefit to our people. Moreover, too much that is nowspent on defense not only adds nothing to our strength but makes us lesssecure by stimulating other countries to respond.”4Just as the Democrats want a healthy economy the Republicans wantthe same thing. Our country needs a healthy economy to survive, and theRepublicans feel they can give us that strong economy. “We stand forfullemployment–a job for everyone willing and able to work in an economyfreed of inflation, its vigor not dependent upon war or massive militaryspending. We will fight for responsible federal budgets to help assure steadyexpansion of the economy without inflation. The right of American citizens tobuy, hold or sell goods should be re-established as soon as this isfeasible.”2The Republicans agree that the economy shouldn’t be based on war or hugeamounts of defense expenses to keep our economy, but they also feel that themilitary is an important part of our country.

Traditionally the Republican party has always supported a strong military,andfeels it is necessary to keep America as one of the world’s strongestnations.

President Nixon, and the Republican party stated that “By adhering to adefense policy based on strength at home, partnership abroad and awillingness to negotiate everywhere, we hold that lasting peace is nowachievable. We will not let America become a second-class power,dependent for survival on the good will of adversaries. We draw a sharpdistinction between prudent reductions in defense spending and the meat-axslashes with which some Americans are now beguiled by the politicalopposition. We wholeheartedly support an all-volunteer armed force andexpect to end the draft by July, 1973. We will continue to pursue arms-control agreements–but we recognize that this can be successful only if wemaintain sufficient strength.”2 Basically Nixon and the Republican Partywerestating that we need a strong military and a healthy economy, but cuttingdefense spending is not the solution to the economic problem.

Another major issue focused on during the election of 1972 wasforeign policy. Senator McGovern, and the Democratic party stated the nextDemocratic Administration should “End American participation in the warinSoutheast Asia. Re-establish control over military activities and reducemilitary spending, where consistent with national security. Defend America’sreal interests and maintain our alliances, neither playing world policemannorabandoning old and good friends. Not neglect America’s relations with smallthird-world nations in placing reliance on great power relationships. ReturntoCongress, and the people, a meaningful role in decisions on peace and war,and make information public, except where real national defense interests areinvolved.”4 The Democratic party didn’t want other countries to lookuponthe U.S. as the policeman of the world. They also wanted to make sure theU.S. remained friendly with small third world countries, because we may needto trade with them, or we might need raw materials we don’t have.

The Republicans had a different idea on foreign policy. They said that”Never before has our country negotiated with so many nations on so widearange of subjects — and never with greater success.” They go on to say”Wewill press for expansion of contacts with the peoples of Eastern Europe andthe People’s Republic of China, as long isolated from most of theworld.”2The Republican Party wanted to improve the relationships with countries thathave been cut off from much of the world. The Republicans felt they weredoing a good job with foreign policy, and didn’t think they should changemuch of anything they were doing.

After all the months of campaigning, and voting were through, RichardNixon was reelected the new President of the United States. “Nixon sweptback into the White House on Nov. 7 with a devastating landslide victoryover McGovern. He carried a record of 49 states for a total of 520 electoralvotes.”5 Nixon did have a couple of advantages that McGovern didn’t. Forone, the people had confidence in him since he had been elected once before.

They knew what kind of a President he was, and what they as the constituentscould expect from him. Second, McGovern made a bad decision when hechose his vice president running mate. McGovern had chosen Sen. ThomasF. Eagleton of Missouri. “Barely 10 days after selection of theDemocraticticket, on July 25, Eagleton disclosed that he voluntarily had hospitalizedhimself three times between 1960 and 1966 for “nervous exhaustion andfatigue. “McGovern strongly supported his running mate at the time, butin thefollowing days, his support for the Missouri senator began to wane. After ameeting with McGovern on July 31, Eagleton withdrew from the ticket.”4Eagleton badly damaged the image of McGovern. The constituents lost theirconfidence in McGovern and in his decision making power. They felt thatMcGovern may not make wise decisions if he was elected the next Presidentof the U.S. McGovern was also somewhat radical views. “CRP focusedearly and often on the more radical-sounding views of McGovern, highlightinghis support of amnesty for young people who fled to Canada to avoid thedraft, his sometime musings that marijuana might better be legalized, and hispurported support of legalized abortion.”1 Many felt that McGovern’sviewsmay have been more radical and outlandish than some had supported.

After Nixon was elected to office, “It appeared in 1972 thatAmerican politics was entering an age of calm consensus. The economy wastemporarily strong: opposition to the Vietnam War had faded as the two sidesnegotiated in Paris for an end to the war.”6 Then in Nixon’s politicalcareer”A warlike atmosphere between the media (as well as other perceivedenemies of the administration that appeared on Nixon’s “enemieslist”) and themushrooming Watergate scandal combined to create a dark side to U.S.

politics in the 1970’s. At its simplest level, the Watergate affairwas “a third-rate burglary” and a subsequent cover-up by President Nixon and hisaides.

In the summer of 1972, several employees of the Committee to Re-elect thePresident were arrested after they were discovered breaking into and buggingthe Democratic National Committee’s offices at the posh Watergate complexin Washington. The break-in was not a major issue in the 1972 election, butthe next year congressional committees began an investigation.”6 Alongwiththe congressional committees investigation, two reporters from theWashington Post, named Bob Woodward, and Carl Berstein did someinvestigating of their own. They had a politician who knew about all that wasgoing on with the Watergate scandal, nicknamed “Deep Throat.” DeepThroat supplied the two reporters with the information they needed to tearopen the Watergate scandal. These two reporters open up the Watergatescandal, and all the participants involved. “During the investigation, apresidential aide revealed that Nixon had secretly taped Oval Officeconversations with aides. When the Watergate special prosecutor ArchibaldCox ordered Nixon to surrender the tapes, Nixon ordered Cox fired. Thenthe Supreme Court ruled that Nixon had to surrender even more tapes, whichindicated that he had played an active role in covering up the Watergatescandal. Nixon resigned the presidency when his impeachment andconviction appeared certain. The impeachment articles charged him withobstruction of justice, abuse of presidential powers and contempt ofCongress. President Nixon resigned on August 9, 1974. The Watergateaffair was perhaps the greatest political scandal in U.S. history. For thefirsttime, a president was forced to leave office before his term expired.”6Vice President Gerald Ford became the President of the UnitedStates. President Ford then granted Richard Nixon a full pardon of thecrimes committed against the presidency, and the people of the United States.

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Cite this Watergate as the Largest Political Scandals in U.S. History

Watergate as the Largest Political Scandals in U.S. History. (2018, Dec 19). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/watergate-as-the-largest-political-scandals-in-u-s-history/

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