Thursday, September 03, 2015

September Challenge -- Day 3

What's the most recent thing you have learned? I knew that Watergate had a huge impact on my world view, but I didn't realize how it effected my vocabulary. Two phrases I use all the time at work were introduced during the Watergate scandal.

Plausible deniability. The term used in the Executive Branch when wanting to distance themselves from an action taken by underlings. They may have clearly wanted the dirty trick or break-in to occur, but they didn't want any evidence that they knew about it in advance. I use this at work, when people around me want to rewrite copy that's already been approved by the client and their attorneys. I tell my coworkers I don't want to know about it so I can maintain my plausible deniability.

Twisting in the wind. When Patrick Gray had been nominated for the head of the FBI, John Ehrlichman, Nixon's White House Counsel, intentionally let the confirmation hearings go on ... and on ... and on ... even though everyone in the Executive Branch knew Gray would never be confirmed. According to the infamous tapes, Ehrlichman felt it would be better to let Gray "twist slowly, slowly in the wind," like a body at the end of a hangman's noose, because at least while the hearings were going on, no one was talking about Watergate. When I feel vulnerable and completely without support, I say I've been left twisting in the wind.

I learned this stuff while reading Evan Thomas' riveting, and so sad, biography Being Nixon.

Want to play along? Click here for the day's question.

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