>God, I miss that evil old bastard.
His library had a recent makeover:
By Jon Wiener
April 5, 2011
Watergate was "the ultimate stress test" for the nation, says Timothy Naftali, director of the Nixon Library. It was also a stress test for the National Archives and the Nixon Library.
The Nixon Presidential Library and Museum's original exhibit about Watergate, designed in 1990 by Nixon loyalists before the National Archives took over operation of the library, explained Watergate as a third-rate burglary exploited by the president's enemies to reverse the results of the 1972 election. Now, with the long-awaited opening of the library's new Watergate exhibit, the public finally has a museum that tells the full story of what President Ford called "our long national nightmare" and tells it with authority and rich detail, mobilizing up-to-the-minute interactive technology that might even engage middle school students brought here on tours.
That story is still devastating. The exhibit makes clear how, with the country in turmoil over an unpopular war, the president became obsessed with "enemies" and formed a secret unit, "the plumbers," to carry out illegal assignments. When its members got arrested breaking into the offices of the Democratic National Committee, the president discussed paying them hush money, talked about how to pardon them before they could tell their story, and then ordered the CIA to tell the FBI to stop its investigation of presidential wrongdoing.
In the end, the constitutional system of checks and balances worked. A Senate committee uncovered the White House taping system; the Supreme Court ordered the release of tapes containing key evidence of the cover-up attempt; the House Judiciary Committee voted for articles of impeachment, starting with obstruction of justice. And the president resigned rather than face removal from office because his own party had turned against him in the Senate.
In Yorba Linda the new exhibit consists not of long panels of explanatory text but of vivid interactive video displays in which participants, witnesses and observers tell the story from their perspectives. For each "chapter" of the story, visitors can select excerpts from interviews (a total of 40 hours of interactive content, 131 interviews on video conducted by the library for this exhibit), including central figures G. Gordon Liddy, head of the plumbers unit; presidential advisor Charles Colson; Alexander Butterfield, the White House assistant who recalls how he revealed the White House taping system; and Sen. Trent Lott, then a Republican member of the House Judiciary committee, who recalls seeing the first transcript of the "smoking-gun tape" and concluding that "one article of impeachment for obstruction of justice was going to be inevitable."