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Bruce McFarland: Nixon, Bush, Cheney and the Truth Teller

Democratic Voices

Posted: July 27, 2009 9:48 p.m.
Updated: July 28, 2009 4:55 a.m.
As we learn more about the secret inner workings of the Bush/Cheney administration, many old-timers make comparisons with Richard Nixon's reign.

Wouldn't it be great if there were someone to talk with who had the gravitas and historical perspective to shed some behind-the-scenes light on activities inside 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.?

And wouldn't it be great to hear that person speak to us, right here in Santa Clarita, about all the dirt in Nixon's White House, and then ask him questions about his experiences and insights? Maybe he could help us understand Bush and Cheney.

Well, guess what? Richard Nixon's White House counsel, John Dean, will be a guest speaker at St. Stephen's Episcopal Church on Orchard Village Road near Lyons in Valencia on Saturday, Aug. 15, at 6 p.m. sharp.

The event is sponsored by local Democrats, but is free and open to the public. Dean is on a book tour promoting the just-released paperback version of "Blind Ambition: The End of the Story."

Dean is quite the writer about and commentator on abuse of power in Washington, D.C. You may remember his original book, "Blind Ambition: The White House Years."

It detailed the June 17, 1972 break-in at Democratic National Committee headquarters in the Watergate Hotel in Washington, D.C. by Nixon operatives, and the failed coverup that resulted in the president's resignation on Aug. 9, 1974.

The original book was a big hit when published in 1976, and according to the publisher of the new "Blind Ambition: The End of the Story" paperback edition, Dean has "added a powerful new afterword, an extended essay in which he explains with the new clarity why (and how) a bungled, conspicuously amateurish burglary ... unraveled a presidency, forcing Richard Nixon from office."

According to a publisher's note on, the publisher says the updated paperback also provides "definitive answers to the most persistent questions that have lingered about these events, and alerts us all to the deceitful and growing efforts by Nixon apologists and those out to make a fast buck to rewrite this tragic chapter of American history by reinventing it."

Just as with the hard-cover "Blind Ambition," the publisher's note on the new paperback concludes, "...this new material is brutally honest and strikingly revealing.

Dean's perceptive new afterword, when read with this now classic autobiographical work, truly closes the case on Watergate."

After the original "Blind Ambition," Dean mostly stayed out of the political limelight and worked as an investment banker until 2001, when he retired and began to write again. Dean just couldn't seem to stay away from abuse of power in the White House and D.C.

Dean's next big best seller was "Worse than Watergate: The Secret Presidency of George W. Bush," published in 2004. In that book, Dean refers back to how Nixon might have handled problems, but paints a vivid picture of W. being much worse.

Dean makes the case of an obsessed executive branch that puts the lives of American citizens, civil liberties and the Constitution at risk. If you want to hear an insider's view of Nixon's ... I mean, Bush's shadow government, the bogus secret energy policy, or the phony march to war in Iraq, this book is a must-read.

Dean's next book, "Conservatives without Conscience," is a play on Barry M. Goldwater's "The Conscience of a Conservative," but in this one, Dean describes the demise of the Republican Party post-Goldwater.

He describes how immoral, self-serving neo-conservatives and social conservatives used Christian fundamentalists to further their political aspirations.

As a self-proclaimed Goldwater conservative, Dean shows where the party took many wrong turns. Maybe some local Republican should ask Dean how the Republican Party can find its way back from oblivion.

Dean's 2007 book, "Broken Government: How Republican Rule Destroyed the Legislative, Executive and Judicial Branches" shows how the new Republican Party leaves no American value unturned in its lust for political dominance.

Now, just in case you think Mr. Dean has some sort of a special penchant for Bush and Nixon, not to worry, he's also written about Goldwater, Warren G. Harding and others.

John Dean is surely a living piece of history and I can't wait to hear what he has to say, and what the people of Santa Clarita will ask him.

Mr. Dean will have copies of "Blind Ambition: The End of the Story" available to be signed after his presentation at St. Stephen's on Aug. 15th. I'll be there - I hope to see you there, too.

Bruce McFarland represents the 17th Senatorial District in the Los Angeles County and California Democratic Party. His column reflects his own views and not necessarily those of The Signal. "Democratic Voices" appears Tuesdays in The Signal and rotates among several local Democratic activists.


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