WATERGATE REVISITED – BY ELLIN CURLEY

There’s been talk in the news recently about the 1973 Watergate Hearings. Trump’s firing of FBI Director James Comey reminded newsmen and pundits of Nixon’s firing of the Special Prosecutors during the Watergate investigation.

For me, it brings back happy memories. I was in law school during the Watergate Hearings. AND that law school was in Washington, D.C., the epicenter of the major national crisis. On top of that, Samuel Dash was a criminal law professor at my law school, Georgetown University Law Center. He was the Chief Counsel for the Senate Watergate Committee, headed by Sam Ervin, and one of the main players in the high-profile investigation. Dash became famous for his incisive, televised interrogations. We, at the law school, felt an intimate connection with the proceedings in the Senate.

For weeks, after classes, students would gather around the television in the Student Lounge to watch the live hearings. It was obviously a major topic of conversation. Sam Dash also made appearances at the law school. He’d be besieged by enthusiastic students and faculty members. Everyone wanted every bit of strategy and inside information they could get.

It wasn’t just my law school that became obsessed with the hearings. They were broadcast live on television for several weeks in May of 1973. 85% of American households watched at least some of the proceedings. Radio stations broadcast the hearings, at least in part, as well.

It was like the O.J. trial in that everyone in the country was focused on and talking about the same thing. It was a national bonding experience, at least for anti-Nixonites.

So we got to share our legal obsession with much of the country. Friends and family from New York City were all asking the same questions we were: What did the President know and when did he know it? Did the cover-up go all the way to the top? Would the revelations eventually topple the President?

But this time, maybe it IS the crime.

It was a very exciting time. Many of us had felt oppressed by what we saw as an autocratic and corrupt administration. It was beyond gratifying to watch the giant White House cover-up unravel before our eyes. We watched a giant fall in slow motion. We knew we were witnessing history in the making. We woke up every morning and grabbed the papers for the morning news. We religiously watched the evening news and any reports in between, to get every update. We shared the latest eagerly with friends and family. (No Facebook then!) What’s going on with Trump today has a similar feel.

With Nixon, we started out being sure that Nixon and his crew would get away scott-free and that the cover-up was too air-tight to crack. We followed clues and evidence that eventually revealed the conspiracy climbing farther and farther up the chain of command in the White House.

We finally got to watch the indictment of 40 administration officials and the conviction of several of Nixon’s top aides for obstruction of justice. This, in turn, prompted the start of impeachment proceedings and forced the ultimate resignation of Nixon.

I hope we are at the beginning of another national probe, this time into Trump and his involvement with Russia. This investigation will also capture the rapt attention of a big chunk of the country. It’s fun to dream that today’s numerous investigations will be as fruitful and successful as the ones in 1973. The Watergate saga proves that ANYTHING is possible.

THE FINAL WHAT?

When I saw “final” as the word of the day, I got a chill. In the past two weeks, I have lost at least three friends with more on the way. Not to mention that my email is full of warnings of: “This is the final hour! Send $3 now!”

I fondly hope this isn’t the final hour for all of us, but it has recently been the final hour for more than a few friends and loved ones.  I don’t know how many more are on the special waiting line. I’m hoping that Death is like the guy in Terry Pratchett’s books. Pragmatic, friendly and most of the time, there to give you a hand to find your right place.

It is a strange feeling watching your group of friends grow smaller day by day. My mother told me a long time ago that “You know you are old when you start to lose your friends.”

I thought it was the creepiest thing she ever said. Later, I read a version of the same idea in various books. Mostly memoirs by “famous people.” I thought “There is nothing to prevent this final loss. No money, power, or fame can change it in any way.” It’s not that I thought money, power, or fame would stop the progression of life toward its ending, but I hadn’t given it deep thought.

To a degree, that hasn’t changed. I am pragmatic. I care, but I’m not sticky about it. I’ve come close enough to that line to realize it is never as far away as we might think. Final is. Like life is.  So I don’t brood about it, accept it when news arrives, feel the absence of another person I loved. I get notes from friends about their husbands. From the family of friends. A few really good friends. Others are sick and getting sicker. There won’t be an end to this. Someday, I suppose I’ll be the note in someone’s inbox. I hope it will be a generous and kindly note that skips over my failures and all those times I’ve been an asshole. Try to remember the laughter and humor. It’s the part I worked hardest at.

After all these years, I still don’t know how I feel about this ongoing march from birth to that final hour. When I was in my twenties and we — our group — lost someone, usually to a car accident or another unexpected thing, it shook us badly. We were too young. It wasn’t supposed to happen … was it?

Now it is the way the world rolls.

Final.

Final days of the earth? Final years of democracy? Final end to everything in which I believed? Or just the inevitable shearing off of living people whose time was finished?

If this is final, what does that mean? The final what?

RIGHT WAY, WRONG WAY

Question: You are walking around the house and you feel something on your foot. Like maybe … a cord. Do you:

A) Give a good, solid pull. Be very distressed when a lamp crashes to the floor.
B) Keep walking until you fall over. Be very distressed when you lose a front tooth.
C) Look down, realize it’s a lamp cord. Move the cord.

You would think that  option C would be the standard response, but it isn’t. Many people never look down. Or right or left. They look straight ahead — or into their phone — and keep going. They are deeply distressed when they break something or fall over. They don’t connect their failure to look where they are going with any of the residual effects of not looking where they are going.

I have seen people looking at their phones while walking into doors. Talking to someone next to them and driving their car into a parked vehicle. I know, because I was in the parked vehicle. They also didn’t have insurance. Sometimes, you just get lucky.

I have been driving down a one-way street and been hit head on by someone going the wrong way, then getting shouted at for blocking his path. When it was pointed out it was a one-way street — and he was going the wrong way — he screamed: “Another WOMAN DRIVER!” What can you say to that? It left me speechless.

I had someone sue me because he t-boned me in a parking lot. When he explained to the judge what happened, he needed three pages to draw six pictures.  My explanation was much simpler. I pulled out. He hit me. I only needed a single picture, which the judge liked. So I won.

I had a friend who was a media consultant for a police department. His comment was that if criminals weren’t so stupid, we would never catch them.

Considering the state of the state, it’s something worth thinking about, isn’t it?

CLEAN DOGS

Exhausted from a day at the doggy spa, the weary pooches sack out.

That’s right! It’s the quarterly cleaning up of the grubby Scotties. For a few glorious days, they are silky, soft, and they smell good. Probably less this time because it has been raining all day today and it’s supposed to pour throughout the weekend. It seems a bit unfair that we can’t have at least one long weekend of clean dogs, but the weather just is.

After all the years of drought, this is great for the aquifer. It just makes for a pretty dreary spring.