Who is Watergate?


A tiny item in yesterday’s paper jogs my memory.  The garage where, on this 42d anniversary, “Deep Throat” passed teasing information to WashPost reporter Bob Woodward is due to be demolished.  People under a certain age probably don’t know about Watergate or have only a vague textbook idea.  Or they picked it up from Pakula’s great movie “All The President’s Men” where Robt Redford plays the restrained gentile journalist Woodward and Dustin Hoffman the pushy Jewish foot-in-the-door Carl Bernstein.  The film made investigative reporting not only popular but respectable…that is until our present administration began cracking down on hardnose reporters.

I am personally responsible for the break in by five CIA employees into the Democratic Natl Hq at the Watergate office complex.  Let’s walk this back a bit.  Among Pres Nixon’s close aides in the 1970s who went into the slammer for (among other crimes) obstruction of justice were my two UCLA drinking buddies also my political enemies, Bob Haldeman and John Ehrlichman.  The “third man” at UCLA, also a drinking companion at Westwood’s Glen bar, was Alex Butterfield, another Nixon aide, who spilled the beans with his surprise disclosure that Nixon taped his criminal activities.  (Later, when I spoke to Alex, who was never prosecuted, and asked if it was all a CIA plot to dethrone the president, he just smiled at me signaling well yeah maybe but you didn’t hear it from me.)

Haldeman, Ehrlichman and I were BMOC, big men on campus, sharing the same student activities building.  The Wasp culture then was to wear a cheerful, slightly robotic Pepsodent smile even when stabbing another student in the back.  The mantra was: “It’s not personal, Clancy.”  They were ferociously anti-Red, but we didn’t let a little thing like that get in the way of fraternity-style palship.  (Bob was Beta Sig, John Kapp Sig, I a “barbarian” which is what Greek Row called non-orgs.)

One day, as the campus paper’s managing editor, I walked into the Dean of Students office where Ehrlichman was the Dean’s fraternity liason and surprised him with a magnifying class bent over photographs of student demonstrators (including me) marking in red crayon the most dangerous subversives.  “Hey John, whatcha doing?”  He just smiled blandly, “Oh, you caught me.”  Much later he confessed that identifying fellow students to the FBI and LA police “red squad” was his “ongoing counterintelligence function” whatever that means.

I visited Haldeman in prison at Lompoc and Ehrlichman in New Mexico just before he began his sentence.  They were happy to talk and talk and talk.  Just like the old days at the Glen.  Haldeman, the more buttoned up of the duo, was the most revealing.  He said that Watergate was born in old campus struggles that centered on the UCLA Daily BruinDin the grip of “Jewish liberals” like me who had it in for him over a long-forgotten fraternity scandal involving, yes!, a dead puppy dog.  (I protested to Bob that I wasn’t a liberal then but a radical but he just blinked uncomprehendingly, I was trying to fool him again, libs and rads what’s the difference?)

Follow the logic: Jews-and-liberals (same thing) control the media (campus newspaper) in their vendetta against loyal Americans.  By extension, when Nixon is in the White House and brings in the three UCLA boys, ALL media is controlled by Jewish liberals who have never forgiven Haldeman for that damn puppy dog.

So all of you who have gone to college those many long years ago and think it’s all forgotten think again: old insults from a sensitive age and era have a habit of coming back to life like Dracula and sinking in their fangs, nothing personal.

Clancy Sigal is a screenwriter and novelist. His latest book is Hemingway Lives


Clancy Sigal is a screenwriter and novelist. His latest book is Hemingway Lives. Sigal and Doris Lessing lived together in London for several years.

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