All the President’s Men

I have a decades-old affection for the “All the President’s Men.” A great script, stellar performances, a true story; these characteristics alone would place this film on my list of favorites. But my connection to this fact-based film runs deeper, for a few reasons.

While the movie was being made, I took a peek behind the scenes. My father’s job as a network programmer often sent him to California and whenever possible, I was invited to come along. On one such visit, we toured the set of “All the President’s Men,” specifically the recreation of the Washington Post newsroom. I was in awe of the attention to details, including time-worn office equipment, desks filled with pads, paper and gnawed pencils and overflowing waste baskets. My appreciation for set decorators and the magic they make soared, that day!

During the period of time the film chronicles, I was living in Italy. While the Watergate scandel unfolded, my only source of news was the International Herald Tribune. I learned about Nixon’s resignation after quickly snatching the latest edition from a newsstand, when friends and I were changing trains in Padua. “All the President’s Men” allowed me to experience that tainted period in American history. It also cemented my respect and gratitude for the press and the dogged dedication of the best of reporters, those committed to getting to the truth, no matter how elusive and infuriating the process is. This long-standing respect adds to my infuriation, now, whenever I hear our President scoff at the news media or when I read his most unsettling statement, “The press is the enemy of the American people.” Add my concern for our democracy and you’ll understand why there were tears in my eyes when I learned a group of reporters were recently barred from a White House press gaggle.

I was equally as outraged years ago, as I sat at a table discussing Watergate with some Italian acquaintances. As a baby boomer, I’d had a crash course in civics, American politics and foreign policy. I’d protested the war in Vietnam, worked on my chosen candidate’s campaigns and had a deep belief in social justice. My distress concerning Nixon’s administration was met that night by a statement I’ve never forgotten. As I took a sip of chianti, an elderly Italian man patted my hand and said, “But it’s the government; it’s corrupt by definition!” My naïveté was instantly shattered by reality.

We’ve entered a new period of political crisis here in America, a mere 41 days since Donald Trump was inaugurated. There were red flags (pun intended) during the 2016 campaign season and disturbing conduct continues as the days go by. I firmly believe the truth and consequences will come; unfortunately we’ll have to suffer through the day-to-day aggravation and news whiplash as the puzzle pieces fit together. Last night I was dreaming about Trump’s tax returns being subpoenaed and an independent commission investigating Russia’s hacks. And – POW!- this morning I’ve learned about the trail of breadcrumbs Obama left in regard to Russia and the fact that Attorney General Sessions seems to have lied during his confirmation hearings. It’s exhausting being an informed and concerned American!

Here’s the bottom line. If you have nothing to hide, you don’t resist investigation. If you’re an innocent man, you turn over your books, give a DNA sample or allow a search without a warrant. If you’re guilty, you shred the paperwork, refuse to take a polygraph test or tell your mother the pot she found in your room belongs to somebody else. When Republican’s pass legislation that protects the President’s taxes from review, you’ve got to wonder, what are they hiding? It’s another distressing news day and I’m making my coffee strong. What I wouldn’t give to be in Italy, sipping espresso…

 

 

 

 

 

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