You are Missing the Overall ! ! ! Part 1

© 2019 Jim Spence -  All the President’s Men, is one of the most fabulous films of all time. The film is a thrilling narrative of one of the seediest political chapters in American history. Authors/journalists Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein are at the center of an investigative reporting process that quite improbably leads to the arrest, conviction, and incarceration of forty-three men working in various capacities for President Richard Nixon, as well as Nixon’s own resignation of the presidency.
Having seen the film at least a dozen times, it occurred to me during a recent viewing that Bob Woodward in particular, was a very naïve journalist during the early 1970’s when the events of Watergate were unfolding. Of course, this observation comes with the benefit of hindsight. Those of us who have made it a point to be well-informed about American history and aware of the specifics of the Watergate scandal, understand why it took Woodward and Bernstein a couple of years to unravel the mysteries. For the most part they were dealing with a cover-up and nobody was talking.
It is important to remember that the indictment, trial, conviction, and incarceration of all forty-three persons associated with Watergate crimes were sent to jail by Republican-appointed prosecutors. For the most part these GOP prosecutors were following leads generated by investigations and reporting done by Woodward and Bernstein.
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Hal Holbrook (left)          Mark Felt (right)
Most fascinating about the Watergate story is the fact that Woodward’s FBI source Mark Felt, more infamously known as “Deep Throat,” helped the pair logic through a patchwork quilt of evidence they were uncovering. In his interactions with Felt, Woodward, until late in the investigation, seemed unable to grasp what he was “on to.” In fact, actor Hal Holbrook, who played the Felt role in the film, is visibly disgusted in one garage meeting scene with Woodward, who is played by Robert Redford. Felt eventually became quite impatient and miffed that Woodward could not seem to grasp the depth of the corruption at all levels of the Nixon government including the FBI, the DOJ, the CIA, and the White House.
It seems that Woodward was genuinely astonished that duty-sworn FBI agents, and particularly their Nixon-appointed bosses, would deliberately choose to not pursue investigations of obvious crimes, considering the mountains of evidence lying in their laps. Felt became so frustrated at how naïve Woodward was, he finally asked Woodward with an exasperated tone in his voice, “Don’t you understand what you are on to?”
Trying to answer Felt, Woodward continues to bumble and stumble piecemeal through what he can only perceive as isolated incidents. Shaking his head Felt growls repeatedly, “You are missing the overall!”
“What overall?” Woodward finally asks with a puzzled look on his face.
At this point Felt unloads, citing a litany of criminal tactics employed by Nixon’s henchmen. Felt elaborates quite extensively about what was going on during this era when the deep state in Washington D.C. was extraordinarily emboldened, just as it has been emboldened in recent years.
It turned out that Nixon’s henchmen had bugged political opponent’s phones and offices, planted government employees to spy on their political opponents, produced fake documents, stole documents, created false press leaks, and even destroyed evidence, including shredding tens of thousands of documents and tapes, all under the supervision of the Attorney General of the United States, John Mitchell. Imagine that, evidence got destroyed?
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The Watergate burglars
During one exchange with Felt after Woodward and Bernstein over-reached on a story about a grand jury, Felt admonished Woodward, “You put the investigation back months.”
A remorseful Woodward admitted the mistake and said, “If we were wrong we will resign.” Imagine that statement coming from a journalist today in the world where fake news is rewarded instead of condemned.
Fortunately for history’s sake, Felt let Woodward know he and Bernstein were not “wrong.”
History teaches us that political corruption never really changes. The means of the corrupt change as technology changes. But the ends tend to mirror political corruption of the past. The Watergate scandal was not merely about a few burglars trying to plant listening devices at DNC headquarters. The corruption of that era was about an obsession with holding power. The obsession spilled over and engulfed the entire United States intelligence and law enforcement communities, including the CIA, the FBI, and the Department of Justice.
Before illustrating the parallels of Watergate with recent patterns of conduct in the 21st century, it is important to make note of the historical context of Watergate from several vantage points. First, elections bring out the worst in all political zealots. And Washington D.C. was as infested with political zealots leading up to the 1972 presidential election as it was in 2016.
Did The Washington Post go hard after Nixon and his men because it was a pro-Democrat newspaper that had NEVER endorsed a Republican? Or did the paper do so because it had a legitimate story of corruption? History strongly suggests these two reporters had an important story that needed to be told.
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Bob Woodward (left) Carl Bernstein (right)
Enough about 1972 and the story that had to be told. Let’s fast forward to 2019. Bob Woodward will be 76 years old in 2019, and Carl Bernstein will turn 76 years old next year in 2020. Though these two reporters are retired, they are still legendary in the journalism profession for daring to investigate powerful people. Quite deserving, they have profited enormously from their work in the 1970’s.
Amazingly, there remains an astonishing UNTOLD story in 2019, with damning evidence trails leading everywhere, that are right under the experienced noses of Woodward and Bernstein. It seems curious that these two men, who helped change history, have lost their sense of duty about evidence trails leading to the powerful. Clearly Woodward and Bernstein are now content to watch their successors in journalism deliberately choose to ignore overwhelming evidence trails. The results are simple. The entire journalism profession is once again missing the OVERALL.
Recognizing the parallels and paradoxes associated with the patterns of behavior of federal government appointees under Richard Nixon and Barack Obama are like solving jigsaw puzzles designed to engage four-year old children. The parallels reflect a thirst for power that is inherent in Washington D.C. The paradoxes are merely due in great part to the fact that while there was no change of power in 1973, there was a stunning change of power after the 2016 election.
In Part II of this series, we will explore what is really at the heart of the creation of the bogus “Russian Collusion” narrative created by Democrats as they lost power in 2016.
Here is a juicy garage meeting hint for you on Part 2. The only way to engineer a cover-up when you are about to be removed from power is to make astonishing accusations about those about to be sworn in and start an investigation of them.