The story of Watergate is so tragic. This idea that President Richard Nixon would be worried about losing the presidency to George McGovern, who was the Bernie Sanders Democratic Socialist of his time. In an era when Socialists were looked down upon as Marxists and Communists, is so laughable I almost want to feel sorry for President Nixon and his White House. With or without Watergate, President Nixon was in cruise control and headed for the landslide reelection that he got in 1972. The Democratic Party, was divided between mainstream Progressives and New-Left Socialists, the Green Party of their time that wanted to move America in a new radical direction.
Watergate, was not a shot in the foot, but a grenade at someone’s foot that takes both feet off in one blow. And that is it is a really weak grenade. It never had to happen and what made this story even more tragic is that President Nixon wasn’t behind Watergate itself, but the cover up that came after. Had he and his Chief of Staff Bob Haldeman, stayed out of the story and let the Washington PD and the FBI do their jobs, the Nixon Campaign might have taken a little hit in the polls. Because the burglars were connected to their campaign. But they would have gotten that back plus a lot more because of their convention and the Democratic convention later that summer.
But that is not the worst part of Watergate. Watergate, destroyed what otherwise would have been a promising presidency where President Nixon was putting together a foreign policy record that was perhaps second to none compared with any president before him. With ending the Vietnam War, opening up Russia and China to negotiations and diplomatic relations, Middle East talks involving Egypt, Israel and what would become Palestine. Plus his domestic agenda that would become what is called Welfare to Work today, health care reform that is the Affordable Care Act today, a national energy policy, to move America off of foreign oil. All of these policies that the Nixon Administration were working on in their second term. That went away because of Watergate.
Josh Burdick: CBS News Special on Watergate, June 1992