The Final Days Mass Market Paperback – January 1, 1977
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What makes this book so powerful is how it is a warning from our not so distant past about having a president and administration that acts like the president is above the law and doesn't have to answer to Congress, the courts or the American people for his actions. Nixon's actions as president nearly brought the executive branch down and paralyzed the ability of the government to function. It took two years of investigation for Congress and the courts to finally force Nixon to take responsibility for his abuse of power. Still, he was allowed to resign and retire to his home in California. The pardon by Ford allowed Nixon to escape facing justice for his crimes. It makes me wonder what it will take to finally force the current president to be held accountable for his actions during the campaign and since he took office. How long will he be able to abuse the power of his office? How much damage will he do to our Constitutional Republic before he is forced out of office? Once we discover the breadth and depth of his criminal behavior, will we finally act to prevent future abuses by a president? The executive branch has been allowed to stake out and claim a considerable amount of power since 9/11 in the name of National Security. We need the other two branches to step up to act as a check and balance at the federal level. This is true no matter which party controls the White House. We can either learn from the history detailed in this book by Woodward and Bernstein or we can find ourselves repeating the sins from our past.
Yes, we all think know the history but the parallels to today's political situation in terms of WH strategies for handling a president under investigation while attempting to run the country are striking right down to the political language used in defense of the president: "witch hunt", "politically motivated", attempts to diffuse and distract by referencing previous presidents' actions (Kennedy and Johnson's wiretapping), a WH staff jockeying for power, a Republican Party weighing their personal political fortunes against the welfare of the country and a verbally abusive, bigoted president regarded as a growing national threat due to his increasing instability. To further complicate the situation: a loyal base that believed Nixon right till the end and posed a problem for Congressional Republicans. The one departure from today : the infamous tapes produced in secret by the president himself that provided the direct evidence leading to his resignation. Trump, of course, tweets for the world to see, telegraphing his concerns and providing a bread crumb trail for the investigators to follow.
It's too bad Trump doesn't read.
The roadmap of failed strategy is outlined in detail in The Final Days....but let's not tell him how it ends.
Originally published in 1976, “The Final Days” is an outstanding work of journalistic reporting. In it, Woodward and Bernstein tell the story of the final few months of Richard Nixon’s presidency, which was then mired in the Watergate scandals.
Step by step, “The Final Days” takes readers through the key events of the spring and summer of 1974. These include: the formation and activities of the Senate Watergate Committee and the revelation of Nixon’s White House taping system; the hiring of Special Prosecutor Archibald Cox; Cox’s firing and the “Saturday Night Massacre;” the constitutional crisis brought on by the fight for the secret White House tapes; the Supreme Court decision ordering Nixon to hand over the tapes to new Special Prosecutor Leon Jawaorski; the impeachment proceedings in the House Judiciary Committee; and Nixon’s decision to resign.
It’s important to note that “The Final Days” is not another memoir by the Washington Post reporters who helped bring the Watergate Affair into public view. Instead, it is a history of the last few months of Nixon’s presidency, based primarily on interviews with most of the people who were part of Nixon’s White House.
Once I started reading “The Final Days,” I found it so completely engrossing that I found it hard to put down. This is in every way a superb book. Highly recommended.
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I am film literate but, even so, I never quite understood what was happening in the film of 'All the President's Men' and, after reading the book recently, I still don't get it. Read *this* however and things become clearer ... not crystal clear, but somewhat clearer. We discover the roles played by the rest of the White House team, members of Congress, senators, judges, lawyers, and the Supreme Court. What we hit - and I think this is the core of the matter - is one key transcript from the White House Tapes that made it clear that Nixon knew what was going on at Watergate and then tried to hide the fact that he knew. (Not only from the special prosecutors, but from his own people, his friends, power brokers, and family too.) He subsequently tried to withhold the transcript - because, by that stage, what was at issue was not only Nixon but the status of the American presidency. If you're looking for the fulcrum that gave the forces of light the leverage they needed, it was this transcript and his attempts to withhold it. Like any survivor - and further handicapped by his own personal demons - Nixon was no fool and knew what it took to get by in the Washington hothouse. He remained media-savvy up to the end (read 'The Making Of The President') and he was a convincing speaker: people who *heard* his debates against JFK on radio reckoned he won. But he was ultimately remote and hemmed-in by his emotional limitations; he was also tormented by mistrust and a desire to take revenge on those he felt had done him down. This book takes a day-by-day, play-by-play look at events and participants in a way that's similar to Max Gallo's 'Night of the Long Knives', which details Nazi Party revenge and murder in 1934. This book showed me that democracy as we know it was hanging by a thread at the time, and it doesn't seem to have got a lot better since. This book and Daniel Ellsberg's 'Secrets' put life under Nixon into perspective.