by John Schachter
Let me make one thing perfectly clear, Richard Nixon was worse than we ever knew or imagined. That’s the key takeaway from Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein’s latest work in The Washington Post, some 36 years after their last joint byline. And as more and more tapes get released from Nixon’s time in office, we continue to see the pettiness, meanness, and darkness that consumed him.
The intrepid reporting duo detail Nixon’s wars on many fronts – against the Democrats, the anti-war movement, the media, and history itself. But it’s Nixon’s war against the Constitution and the entire American system of justice that dominates his record.
As we approach the 40th anniversary of Nixon’s astounding re-election in 1972 (and the 38th anniversary of his resignation), the enormity of his crimes and heinous actions have only become clearer over time.
Former Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Sam Ervin (D-N.C.) said Watergate was Nixon’s attempt to “destroy, insofar as the presidential election of 1972 was concerned, the integrity of the process by which the President of the United States is nominated and elected.” But Woodward and Bernstein say that “Watergate was far more than that. At its most virulent, Watergate was a brazen and daring assault, led by Nixon himself, against the heart of American democracy: the Constitution, our system of free elections, the rule of law.”