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Message of Watergate Is Going Unheeded

June 23, 2002

John Dean's eulogy-redux to Richard Nixon is almost as tragic as Nixon's ignominious Watergate-forced departure from office (Commentary, June 17). Dean alternately coos and sobs over Nixon without ever conceding that Nixon couldn't have done it without Dean's initial compliance.

But perhaps most tragic, in current politics, is White House political advisor Karl Rove's troubling comment: "Is there something specific we've drawn from Nixon? I'm not aware." He has apparently learned nothing from history and may have doomed the rest of us to repeat it.

Allan Rabinowitz

Los Angeles

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Now that the Watergate scandal has reached its 30th anniversary, the big question is: Has it had any significant impact to positively influence our political culture? Unfortunately, the answer is a resounding "no."

The Bush administration has emphasized secrecy like no other presidency since that of Nixon, almost to the point of obsession. Freedoms and civil liberties have been sacrificed wholesale in order to combat terrorism.

Presidential papers are going to be withheld from the American people for long periods, and national security-related historical information is going to be that much more difficult to obtain. This further denies our access to important information, which is tantamount to censorship.

Intelligence agencies are growing in number, size and scope of activities, literally turning into super agencies, further intruding upon our civil liberties. Obviously, America has learned nothing from Watergate. It seems that it is blindly heading down the same path again.

Kenneth L. Zimmerman

Huntington Beach

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How ironic it was that The Times ran a vintage Paul Conrad cartoon of the Watergate era with Dean's article, in which a beleaguered Nixon was depicted as Shakespeare's King Richard II. I remember thinking when I saw it in 1973 that Nixon also looked like a very weary King Lear.

The irony today is that Nixon's two daughters are now battling for the control and the direction of the Nixon Library & Birthplace in Yorba Linda, which is chillingly reminiscent of Lear and his own daughters. So the cartoon has added poignancy nearly 30 years later. Give me the good old days of Nixon and Conrad!

Ronald D. Hardcastle

Los Angeles

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