The Political Impact of Watergate

During a recent trip I read Shadow: Five Presidents and the Legacy of Watergate by Bob Woodward, the reporter who was instrumental in investigating the original Watergate scandal under President Nixon.  This book analyzes the impact of that scandal on Presidents Ford, Carter, Reagan, George H. W. Bush, and Clinton.

Of course, we should demand the highest possible standards from our elected leaders.  But one of my favorite natural laws is the Law of Unintended Consequences.  Having a special prosecutor seems like an excellent idea.  But it also helps to have some common sense as to what should be investigated and for how long.  And when politics is involved, sometimes common sense gets shoved aside.

As one might expect, the president who endured the most under the shadow of a special prosecutor was Bill Clinton.  Certainly there was plenty to investigate in the Clinton Administration, and most of it was Clinton’s fault.  But one can muster a certain amount of empathy for the president when investigations seem never-ending.  What’s the ultimate impact on the country?  It’s a bit of a rhetorical question, but there has to be one.  Analyzing Clinton’s behavior after being found not guilty in his impeachment trial is especially intriguing.  Certainly he was trying to accomplish as much as possible to balance out the ledger.

This book is an excellent choice for a history buff, a political junkie, or an aspiring lawyer, as it gives a real insight into how the legal system works and how those in the legal profession think.  Yes, we all know the ending, but how we got there may surprise you.



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