Opinion | The Watergate Hearings Gripped a Nation. Can the Jan. 6 Hearings Do the Same?

ByTommie C. Curtis

Jun 14, 2022 , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The third lesson from the Ervin committee underscores the wide gulf politically amongst 1973 and 2022: The Republicans on the committee — and in Congress much more commonly — had been excellent-religion individuals in the hearings. Inspite of their partisan affiliation, they came into the course of action with open minds. Even the position Republican, Senator Howard Baker, uncovered his belief changing as the evidence of wrongdoing amassed as a result of the summertime. He explained, a long time following the hearings, that at initially he thought that they were “a political ploy of the Democrats, that it would occur to practically nothing,” but as they proceeded, “it started to dawn on me that there was extra to it than I assumed, and far more to it than I favored.”

Baker’s Republican committee colleague, Lowell Weicker of Connecticut, was horrified by what he listened to from John Dean’s testimony. He advised the Ervin committee: “Republicans do not go over up. Republicans do not go ahead and threaten. Republicans do not go ahead and commit illegal acts. And, God is aware of, Republicans really don’t perspective their fellow Us residents as enemies to be harassed.”

It’s this last level that most obviously details to the chasm involving politics then and now through Watergate, Republicans in both the Dwelling and Senate recognized that they experienced an vital purpose as customers of the coequal legislative department to hold the govt branch to account.

Watergate is finally a tale of the American method operating — the fragile ballet of constitutional checks-and-balances operating to provide a corrupt and legal president to justice. But the story was only feasible for the reason that Republicans, the two management and rank-and-file, acted as members of Congress initially and partisans 2nd.

Right now, of program, there is a extremely different political dynamic on Capitol Hill. The bravery — and political isolation — of the Jan. 6 committee’s two Republican associates, Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger, and the lopsided Republican votes on equally of Mr. Trump’s impeachments demonstrates how hard it will be to power the occasion to confront actions its customers evidently want to dismiss.

Garrett M. Graff is a journalist, historian, and author, most lately, of “Watergate: A New Record.”