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All The President's Men

A Zerosun Movie Review

Posted on by Magistrate Dunham

All The President's Men

 

“It’s the lie that gets you”…..Richard Nixon

It seems to me that to be a politician, one has to make a conscience decision to cease being human, or not be one to begin with.  In some ways, this could be a positive trait, but generally, it would not.  There is a graveyard of reasons that would keep me from pursuing a career in politics, one of which being my admiration for Richard Nixon.  How lucky I am for him to be the subject of so many great tales, “All The Presidents Men,” being among them.

This movie is a pragmatic examination of the journalistic investigation into the ill-conceived Watergate burglary, seen of course through the eyes of The Washington Post.  When I first saw this film, it occurred to me that many people would chase a career in journalism because of it. It also occurred to me, that most would be disappointed when they realized that they would not be instrumental in exposing the president as a felon, and a psychopath.

Bob Woodward (Robert Redford) and Carl Bernstein (Dustin Hoffman), the Times journalists who uncovered the story, employ some cagey tactics to get to the essential truth of the break in.  They make the audience suspect that a good amount of slyness and persistence is required in the journalism profession.  A particular scene where Bernstein visits the home of an administration fundraiser is an ideal example of this.  Woodwardand Bernstein stoop to downright subterfuge to confirm the names of some of the accomplices when they again visit the home of the same uneasy source.  Clever letter association ruses helped lead to the demise of the Nixon White House.  Woodward and Bernstein would have made excellent spies.  Exploiting the better half of human nature, for a noble cause.

I’ve on occasion visited the nations capital.  Being, there, one can accurately sense that D.C. is a place where the most important powers are at work, and the most critical decisions are being made.  “All The President’s Men” articulates this reality very well.  In D.C., ordinary social circles are sprinkled with both political lackeys, and power players.  It’s a place where a nightcap can turn into scandal and political suicide.  Slips of the tongue can have national consequences.  Clandestine meetings seem to be the norm.

Speaking of clandestine meetings, I’d like to talk a bit about “Deep Throat.” No, not the porn movie. No, not the sex act. No, not the character from the “Metal Gear” video game series.  I’m referring to the previously mysterious FBI informant (his identity was released posthumously) who led Woodward down the path to Watergate verity.  These are the strongest scenes in the movie.  In the basement of a seemingly hollow and cavernous parking garage, Deep Throat deliberately and reluctantly reveals the sinister tale behind the break in by stressing the importance, stupidity and sheer madness of the men involved.  This is the movie that made the anecdote regarding the lunacy of G. Gordon Liddy famous among historians and political junkies.  These moments are secrecy incarnate.

We are no strangers to political scandal in this country.  We are endlessly bombarded with them, due to the growth of the mega-industry of news media.  Watergate was the first scandal of this type to capture the nations attention.  Now, every disgrace, political or otherwise, ends in “gate.”  Seems to me to be a bit unjust, however logical when seen through the prism of pop culture.  It would have been my hope, if I were alive during the scandal, that Watergate would cause future public servants, to hold themselves to a higher moral standard, or at least take fanatical care to suppress their anti-social appetites.  Obviously, this was not the result.  How unfortunate that we have to continue to expect the worst from our leaders.

 

- Magistrate Dunham

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