The political rants of a Libertarian and Catholic college student from South Carolina.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

another watergate?

I'm currently taking a poli sci class on the American Presidency. Today I had to present an analysis of the articles we were assigned to read for this class. I ended up spending most of my time discussing an excerpt from the Panel of the National Academy of Public Administration's 1974 report "Watergate: Implications for Responsible Government." It's basically a discussion of why Watergate occurred and what can be done to prevent a similar event from taking place in the future. The author, Frederic Mosher, presents his own theories as to why Watergate occurred. He concludes that Watergate was a culmination of earlier trends in national politics. He also claims that Watergate will provide a crucial opportunity for Americans to reevaluate our government.

Part of the assignment for presenting was to provide discussion questions for the class. One of my questions was, "Could a scandal like Watergate happen again to the presidency?"

The consensus among the class--and a fairly enthusiastic one, at that--was yes.

I'm by no means idealistic, and that response surprised me. Granted, I was already aware that my class is full of Bush-haters, but I thought at least one person would come out and say that Watergate could never again, that the media and public have become too vigilant to allow it, and that Watergate is tied directly to a previous generation and a previous presidency.

Mosher's report also reminded me of this article from Salon, an interview with John Dean, former White House counsel to Nixon during Watergate, in which he talks about his book Worse Than Watergate: The Secret Presidency of George W. Bush and denounces Bush's presidency as even more secretive and authoritarian than Nixon's. Salon quotes Dean as saying, "To say that the [Bush-Cheney] secret presidency is undemocratic is an understatement. I'm anything but skittish about government, but I must say this administration is truly scary and, given the times we live in, frighteningly dangerous." It's an interesting interview, and more than a little disturbing, especially in light of the Patriot Act coming up for renewal.

Yeah, I know that was a crappy segue. But I really hate the Patriot Act.

Oh, and since I'm updating: I got invited to a special "lunch and discussion" that my school's poli sci department is hosting with Senator Fritz Hollings next week. I'm expecting it to be either really interesting or really boring.