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Political corruption: When ends justify the means

President Nixon during Watergate scandal

White House scandals have been motivated by greed, love of power, lust or a conviction that one’s political agenda is so good it justifies going around the law, as Machiavelli observed with the corrupt tactics of Cesare Borgia: “The ends justifies the means.”

Crossing political party lines, a list of scandals, many of which were compiled by William A. Borst, Ph.D., in “The Mindszenty Report” (Vol. IV-No. 8), included:

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One of the most written-about scandals began in 1972.

Five low-level members of President Nixon’s re-election team did a third-rate break-in of the Democratic headquarters in the Watergate building.

Though Nixon was not involved, effort to defend his subordinates led to him being implicated in a cover-up. Rather than face impeachment, he resigned.

On Aug. 8, 1974, the 37th president of the United States, Richard Nixon, resigned, stating from the Oval Office: “Good evening. This is the 37th time I have spoken to you from this office. … To continue to fight … for my personal vindication would almost totally absorb the time and attention of both the President and the Congress. … Therefore, I shall resign. … If some of my judgments were wrong … they were made in what I believed … to be the best interest of the Nation.”

Nixon continued: “In the Middle East, 100 million people in the Arab countries, many of whom have considered us their enemy … now look on us as their friends. We must continue to build on that friendship so that … the cradle of civilization will not become its grave.”

Nixon continued speaking: “I have taken heart from what Theodore Roosevelt once said about the man in the arena, ‘whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly. … If he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly.’ … In leaving … I do so with this prayer: May God’s grace be with you in all the days ahead.”

Privately to his Cabinet, President Nixon said: “Mistakes, yes … for personal gain, never. … I can only say to each … of you … we come from many faiths … but really the same God. … You will be in our hearts and … in our prayers.”

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