I just ran across something that I wrote in 2010 for an American history class I was teaching at that time. Here is what I wrote:
“In 1973, at the start of the impeachment investigation by the House of Representatives, President Nixon relied on a 3-point defense strategy, which he repeated often.
1. The Watergate investigation is a witch hunt. (A witch hunt is defined as a search for or harassment of a person or persons with unpopular views or opinions.)
2. The press has a liberal bias and is out to destroy me, led by the Washington Post and the New York Times.3. I am not a crook. The real criminals are the leakers.”
Hmmmm. This sounds vaguely familiar, doesn’t it? In 1973, the Washington Post reported that Richard Nixon was going around the White House telling people that the Watergate investigation was just a ‘witch hunt by the Democrats and the Washington Post, who he claimed were trying to overturn the results of the 1972 election. Of course, the Watergate investigation proved to be more than just a witch hunt, but Nixon was right in his belief that leakers in the White House were doing great damage to his presidency. The 2 leakers who did the most damage to Nixon were the anonymous ‘Deep Throat’ and Martha Mitchell, the wife of Nixon’s Attorney General, John Mitchell. Martha Mitchell was an alcoholic, and when she got drunk, she would call reporters on the phone in the middle of the night and tell them about crimes being committed by President Nixon and her husband. Although she was drunk, her calls were surprisingly detailed and verifiable. John Mitchell went to prison as a result of his wife’s drunken phone calls. (Not surprisingly, John Mitchell divorced Martha.) After Nixon resigned as president, he said in a TV interview that: “Without Martha Mitchell, there would have been no Watergate.


What U.S. President Ate Cottage Cheese Covered With Ketchup For Breakfast?
That was Richard Nixon. Richard Nixon did not have a sophisticated palette. Nixon usually started his day with a big plate of cottage cheese covered with Heinz ketchup. If for some reason he ate something else for breakfast, he would have cottage cheese over canned fruit for lunch. Here is a photo of Nixon’s last meal in the White House – a scoop of cottage cheese over canned pineapple slices with a glass of milk. It looks like a very sad meal to me. The White House has a well-paid celebrity chef, but many presidents preferred junk food to the high class stuff the White House chef is paid to prepare. Bill Clinton was famous for jogging to McDonalds in the early morning with Secret Service agents jogging behind him and then loading up on Sausage McMuffins. George H.W. Bush was famous for his love of fried pork rinds. Sales of fried pork rinds skyrocketed during his presidency. Pig skinners ran out of inventory and had to import the stuff. Franklin Roosevelt’s favorite meal was a grilled cheese sandwich on white bread. Warren Harding served knockwurst, sauerkraut, and bootleg beer at White House dinners. He was president during Prohibition. Donald Trump’s favorite restaurants include McDonalds, KFC, and Wendy’s; although he doesn’t serve that kind of food to guests at the White House.


Most Americans are too young to remember Watergate, but I remember it well. Watergate dominated the news for 2 years. As Richard Nixon became more and more entangled in legal troubles, he fell back on 3 defense arguments, which he repeated constantly. These arguments were:

1. I am the victim of a witch hunt. (Nixon actually did use the term ‘witch hunt’ to describe the Watergate investigation.)
2. The liberal press is trying to destroy me, led by the Washington Post and the New York Times.
3. I am not a crook. The real criminals are the leakers. I have ordered my attorney general to find and prosecute the leakers.

Does this sound vaguely familiar?

MARTHA MITCHELL. About the leakers…..President Nixon ordered his attorney-general, John Mitchell to find and silence the leakers, which he was never able to do. The problem was that there were just too many leakers. It wasn’t just ‘Deep Throat’ who was leaking White House secrets. An even bigger leaker was Martha Mitchell, the wife of the attorney-general. Martha Mitchell was an alcoholic, and when she got drunk, she would call reporters in the middle of the night and tell them embarrassing White House secrets. She did this quite frequently. Reporters looked forward to getting phone calls from Martha Mitchell because she always gave them headline stories. White House reporters called Martha Mitchell ‘the mouth of the South.’ She was from Georgia. John Mitchell knew his wife was making these phone calls, but he was unable to stop her. Martha Mitchell’s midnight phone calls had a huge impact on the Watergate investigation. After he resigned as president, Richard Nixon told David Frost in a TV interview that “without Martha Mitchell, there would have been no Watergate.”

The Martha Mitchell Effect. There is now a widely-used psychiatric term based on Martha Mitchell. The Martha Mitchell Effect refers to a situation in which a psychiatrist mistakenly concludes that an alcoholic patient is delusional because the patient is making bizarre or extraordinary claims, claims that turn out to be true. John Mitchell had psychiatrists examine his wife, hoping to discredit and silence her. The psychiatrists he hired concluded that Martha Mitchell was delusional because her Watergate conspiracy stories sounded unbelievable; however, it turned out that she was telling the truth! John Mitchell was ultimately disbarred and went to prison for his involvement in the Watergate scandal. Much of the evidence against him came from his wife’s drunken midnight phone calls to reporters. (Yes, that really happened!)

Sprio Agnew

agnewDo you remember Spiro Agnew? He was Richard Nixon’s vice president. When Agnew was elected, Greek-Americans were elated. Every Greek restaurant in Baltimore had a picture of Agnew on the wall. No Greek-American had ever achieved such a high position in the United States before. However, Greek-Americans don’t talk about him anymore. Agnew resigned as vice president after pleading ‘no contest’ in a highly publicized income tax evasion case. Agnew failed to pay income tax on the bribes he took while he was governor of Maryland, and he took bribes from everybody. Agnew was only governor of Maryland for 2 years, but during that brief period of time he received hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes from the contractors building the Baltimore Harbor Tunnel and the second span of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge. When Agnew became governor of Maryland, he placed a small wooden box on his desk. Contractors were expected to leave envelopes full of cash in the box whenever they visited the governor’s mansion in Annapolis. As Agnew’s greed grew, so did the size of the box. After his resignation, Agnew was replaced by Gerald Ford who went on to become president after Nixon was also forced to resign. Just like most of the other crooks in the Nixon White House, Agnew wrote a book and went on the lecture circuit after his resignation. He took no personal responsibility for his actions and blamed all of his troubles on Richard Nixon. In his book ‘Go Quietly Or Else’, Agnew claimed that the reason he resigned as vice president was because President Nixon threatened to have him assassinated if he didn’t leave, but Agnew had no evidence to back up his preposterous claim. The real reason that Agnew resigned was to avoid going to prison. It was just that simple. The judge in Agnew’s tax evasion case would not accept his plea deal with the I.R.S. unless Agnew resigned as vice president first. Most historians now rate Spiro Agnew as the worst vice president in American history. He was also the worst governor in Maryland’s history. Just as the national Republican Party never mentions Richard Nixon at their conventions, the Maryland Republican Party never mentions Spiro Agnew. I once met Agnew while he was governor of Maryland. Actually, I stepped on his foot. It was an accident. I was a student at the University of Maryland. He was getting off an elevator, and I was getting on.