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Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Five Reasons the Comey Affair Is Worse Than Watergate, by James Fallows

What's on our minds for so many of us as a country right now....

Angela


Five Reasons the Comey Affair Is Worse Than Watergate

A journalist who covered Nixon’s fall 45 years ago explains why the current challenge to America may be more severe—and the democratic system less capable of handling it.


Senate Watergate Committee members and staff gather around Chairman Sam Ervin Bettman / Getty


The tangled affair now known as Watergate began 45 years ago, before most of today’s U.S. population had even been born. (The median age of Americans is about 38, so most people in the country were born in 1979 or thereafter.) Thus for most people “Watergate” is a historical allusion—obviously negative in its implications, since it led to the only presidential resignation in American history, but probably hazy in its details.
For me, Watergate is anything but hazy. I’d left graduate school and begun my first magazine job, with The Washington Monthly, in the fall of 1972, as news of the scandal emerged. Over the next two years, until Richard Nixon’s resignation, I was living in D.C. and tracking the daily progress in clue-following and domino-toppling via stories in The Washington Post and elsewhere—and then the riveting, televised Watergate hearings that made national celebrities of politicians like Senators Howard Baker and Sam Ervin, and of White House aides like Alexander Butterfield (who revealed the existence of Nixon’s secret system for taping White House conversations) and John Dean (who as White House counsel had told Nixon, “there is a cancer on the presidency”). Anyone of conscious age in that time can probably remember the jolts to national sentiment that the near-daily revelations evoked.

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