Daily Class OutlineDaily Class QuestionsDaily Class Web LinksDaily Class Notes

Question for Discussion:
How did the legacy of
Watergate and the cynical divisions within
American society caused by the Cold War
affect Americans in the 1980s and 1990s?

Reading: Steve Erickson,"American Nomad" (web)

Video: From Watergate to the Clinton-Lewinsky

Daily Class Web Links

1. The Political Legacy of Watergate

2. The Iran-Contra and other
Reagan scandals

3. President Clinton and the Fundraising Scandals of 1996

4. The Clinton Impeachment and
the Lewinsky Scandal

5. Economic Inequality and Social Division in the 2000s

Daily Class Outline

Daily Class Questions



Daily Class Notes

"In the old days, politicians at least pretended to have principles. Now they're not ashamed to switch values just to get elected. Every time we hear of a new scandal, we're like , 'Yup!"
                                Beth Englander, 26 year old.

"We grew up in  a period with one instance of government malfeasance and ineptitude after another, from Watergate to Iran-Contra to the explosion of the Challenger to Whitewater. We believe government can't be trusted to do anything right."
                                    Thau, Generation Xer

In November 1996, in the general elections, only 48.8 percent of eligible voters went to the polls. This rate was lower than 1992, which was 55 percent of eligible voters. The drop is disconcerting. Civic organizations across the country have worked to increase voter registration - and turnout - recently. For example, at the University, students worked in Voice Your Vote to increase registration rates. But even with MTV, the registration efforts did not bring citizens all the way to the polls. Turnout across the country declined.

"By the time President Nixon resigned in 1974, American politics was changed forever because of Vietnam and Watergate.....As a result of his actions, presidents not only would be subject to doubt and second guessing, they would be suspected of outright criminality.  Nixon's tapes of his office and telephone conversations left an irrefutable historical record that the president abused government power for political purposes, obstructed justice and ordered his aides to do so as well.  Watergate ended with unusual clarity and unusual closure because Nixon resigned. The scandal left a series of obvious questions that would come to plague his successors. Could another president be a criminal? Did presidents talk and plot in private like Nixon? Would another president have to resign." (p. xiv)
       Bob Woodward,  Shadow: Five Presidents and the Legacy  of  Watergate

To summarize: there is concrete evidence that U.S. officials-- White House, NSC and CIA--not only knew about and condoned drug smuggling in and around the contra war, but in some cases collaborated with, protected, and even paid known drug smugglers who were deemed important players in the Reagan administration's obsessed covert effort to overthrow the Sandinista government in Nicaragua.
                        Peter Kornbluh, Congressional Testimony

© 2002 by Chris H.  Lewis, Ph.D.
Sewall Academic Program; University of Colorado at Boulder
Created 7 August 2002:  Last Modified: 1 Oct. 2003
E-mail: cclewis@spot.colorado.edu
URL:    http://www.colorado.edu/AmStudies/lewis/2010/legacy.htm
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