Monday, July 15, 2013

Leonard Garment

Leonard Garment, RIP. Garment, as those reading my Watergate posts know, succeeded John Dean as White House Counsel at the height of Watergate, and stayed on with Nixon until the end.

Garment probably wound up as the only, or at least the only high-ranked, Nixon White House staffer to actually enhance his reputation as a result of Watergate. In particular, he (as I'm planning to write in today's item!) was a strong voice against destroying the White House tapes. In addition, there's a later episode in which Nixon proposes to create evidence, and Garment is one of those who prevented it. Garment was a key person early in the "cover-up of the cover-up" phase, but was essentially a victim or unwitting dupe of that cover-up much more than a perpetrator. That is: the initial cover-up was a White House conspiracy against the rest of the nation; the cover-up of the cover-up was a Nixon conspiracy against, among others, many within the White House.

On the other hand...if Garment and other non-conspirators had resigned earlier on, it's very possible that Nixon's presidency would have been cut even shorter.

Unlike the case of Chuck Colson, it's unlikely that Garment takes any important Nixon Watergate secrets with him to the grave (okay: I don't know if Colson did know anything we don't know. But he was probably the last one left who might have. Liddy and some others might know things that we don't know, but they wouldn't be directly Nixon-related. At least probably not). To be sure: he's with Nixon after the tapes are turned off, so we only have is the accounts of those involved, but it seems quite unlikely that Nixon would have told Garment anything from before April 1973 that we don't know.

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