Richard Nixon

Vanessa Williams, 1984
Noteworthy events from our common experience
Next year marks the 40 th anniversary of the culmination of the Watergate scandal, which ended in the summer of 1974 when Richard Nixon defiantly boarded a helicopter on the White House lawn and left his presidency - and the American public's trust in their government - smoldering on the ground below.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is plenty upset. The leak of a surreptitious recording of one of his reelection campaign's strategy sessions captures McConnell and his aides discussing possible attacks on actress Ashley Judd - at the time a potential Democratic opponent - over her past struggles with depression and religious views.
Sen. George S. McGovern is remembered mostly as an opponent of the Vietnam War and as the ill-fated Democratic presidential nominee in 1972. After a campaign marred by mishaps - from an out-of-control national party convention schedule to revelations that his vice presidential pick, Thomas Eagleton, had been treated for clinical depression - McGovern suffered one of the worst landslide losses in history to incumbent Richard Nixon.
In striking down major portions of federal campaign finance law  in 2010, the U.S. Supreme Court opened the floodgates for unlimited "independent" expenditures on behalf of presidential candidates. As long as the groups doing the spending - and the donors that bankroll them - don't directly coordinate their efforts with the candidates they're backing, the Court said, the sky's the limit. The result has been a record-shattering flood of TV and radio commercials, Internet ads, robocalls and other persuasive efforts by the "Super PACs" that its decision spawned.
Can it really be 40 years ago this weekend that the bungled "third-rate burglary" at the Watergate Hotel marked the beginning of the end for a President of the United States?
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