by Ethan Russell

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“In a huge valley in the Catskill Mountains in upstate New York, the changing leaves crept over one ridge line to slowly transform the entire valley. On television, Richard Nixon continually affirmed his innocence while we sat around and guffawed. It was the age of Watergate and Richard Nixon — puzzling, arrogant, insecure — was becoming increasingly implicated in the cover-up of the Watergate break-in.

With the malicious glee of an Ebenezer Scrooge, I watched the unraveling of the Nixon Presidency, noticing very early on Nixon’s incredible mistake of pitting his word and his Presidency against the entire American political system, legislative and judicial — thinking to myself, now he’s done it: it’s the system or him. On television a series of witnesses were brought before the Senate Committee headed by Sam Ervin, each of them unique studies in the psychology of Washington and the Nixon White House: Bob Haldeman, John Ehrlichman, John Dean. . . the list went on. For all its excitement, it was a complicated game of “he said, she said” between the Executive and the Legislative branches, and there was little hope of real resolution until a White House aide -Alexander Butterfield -revealed that Richard Nixon recorded all the conversations in the Oval Office.”


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