January 1973: Watergate, Roe v. Wade, Vietnam, and the Month That Changed America Forever
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In January 1973, politics in America changed forever as, in the span of 31 days, the Watergate burglars went on trial, the Nixon administration negotiated an end to the Vietnam War, the Supreme Court issued its decision in Roe v. Wade, Lyndon Johnson died in Texas, and Richard Nixon was sworn in for his second term. The events had unlikely links and each worked along with the others to create a time of immense transformation. Using newly released Nixon tapes, author and historian James Robenalt provides readers an insider’s look at what happened in the White House, events both fascinating and terrifying, during this monumental month. He also delves into the judge’s chambers and courtroom drama during the Watergate break-in trial, and the inner sanctum of the United States Supreme Court as it hashed out its decision in Roe v. Wade. A foreword by John W. Dean sets the stage for this unique history, which details events that, while taking place more than 40 years ago, are key to understanding today’s current political paralysis.
government buildings around the capital, including soldiers from the Third Army (Patton’s former army) in the basement of the Executive Office Building. Tom Wicker, a New York Times columnist, wrote that Nixon’s and Agnew’s attacks on the Kent State victims “could have no other purpose, and no other result, than to set generation against generation and class against class for the calculated political purposes of the Nixon Administration.”82 There was an overwhelming sense of drama and tension
Hughes was disappointed, he said, that “there were no healing words from the President” for those, like him, who had opposed the war.39 Notwithstanding the silent presence of Leo Cherne’s bronze bust of Abraham Lincoln on Nixon’s credenza behind him in the Oval Office, this presidential address contained not a hint of “with malice toward none, with charity for all.”40 Nixon’s slight in his speech had been intentional. At 10:45 PM Nixon broke his own self-imposed embargo on telephone traffic and
proved wrong. “It pleased her,” Nixon said of Julie, “because she realized with the line they had taken [against the bombing], we had really stuck ’em in the groin.”41 Colson was next. “God bless, Mr. President,” Colson said as he came on the line.42 Nixon repeated his Julie story. “I hope to Christ,” he said, “that this will cause some of our bomb throwers to get off their asses.” Not to worry, Colson responded, his “boys” were on it. Colson was especially pleased that Nixon did not embrace
phoned his mother, but she knew nothing about what he had been doing in Washington. Another number, though, belonged to Robert Mitro, a lawyer from West Haven, Connecticut, who was a law school classmate of Baldwin’s and a good friend. In fact, Baldwin had gone directly to see Mitro on the day he escaped from Washington. Mitro was distracted with another case, though, and told him to go away and come back later in the week. Two days later Mitro, now frantic, called Baldwin. “Jesus Christ,” he
anticlimactic nothing” Nixon said to Haldeman in a phone call. “I mean, what the hell am I announcing? The word would go out from there—an agreement has been reached. So the president goes on for what purpose?” Haldeman, this time, shared the president’s concern. “You can’t go on TV to explain Henry’s agreement.” Nixon said it was vitally important that he be in a position to speak first.6 Haig joined a meeting with Haldeman and the president and was assigned the task of responding to