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Wednesday, May 17, 2023

May 17, 2023: Watergate Figures: John Dean

[On May 18th, 1973, the nationally televised Senate Watergate hearings began. So for the 50th anniversary of that historic moment, this week I’ll highlight one telling detail each for a handful of the key figures in those hearings. Leading up to a weekend post on a few contemporary echoes of that moment!]

Speaking of President George W. Bush’s 2005 admission that he had authorized NSA wiretaps without obtaining warrants, John Dean argued that Bush was “the first President to admit to an impeachable offense.” I’m not sure any American, past or present, would be in a better position to make such assertions than Dean, who had served as White House Counsel under Nixon, had been instrumental in the cover-up of the Watergate break-in, and after signing a plea deal became a key witness in the Senate Watergate hearings. Dean isn’t just an impeachment expert, though—he’s an exemplary illustration of two late 20th century trends: former government officials becoming political pundits and commentators; and members of the Goldwater generation of the Republican Party becoming increasingly disillusioned with the party’s gradual evolution into the Cult of Trump. Reflecting both those trends is Dean’s trilogy of books released in the first decade of the 21st century: Worse than Watergate (2004), Conservatives without Conscience (2006), and Broken Government: How Republican Rule Destroyed the Legislative, Executive, and Judicial Branches (2007). A Watergate-era voice we should all still be listening to for sure.

Next Watergate figure tomorrow,


PS. What do you think?

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