Faculty Say Watergate Differs From Past Political Scandals

Faculty members said yesterday that the Watergate scandal differs from corruption in past administrations because the Nixon appointees who have been linked to last June's bugging of the Democratic National Headquarters were political amateurs who did not act to "line their own pockets."

In addition they said that President Nixon's ability to work with Congress for the remainder of his term will depend on the kind of men he chooses to replace his domestic aides, H.R. Haldeman and John D. Ehrlichman, who resigned earlier this week.

Samuel H. Beer, Eaton Professor of Government, said that in comparison to past scandals Watergate represents a "new form of misconduct" on the part of public officials.

"When you consider that the usual vice of the American political system is venality, that is to say, using public office for private gain, there is something novel about Watergate," Beer said. "These people weren't doing it for the money, they were doing it for power. But at the same time they took such great risks for such tiny stakes."

Beer said that the scandal has placed the country "in a period of divided government which we haven't had for a long time." "Instead of having direction, we will have a whole series of unidentifiable compromises," he said.


Arthur Maass, Thomson Professor of Government, said that the fact that Haldeman and Ehrlichman were political amateurs contributed to the "lack of political judgment" evidenced by the Watergate affair.

"They had a view of the political system, of political races and of loyalty to the President which was terribly unsophisticated," Maass observed. "It's legitimate to want to know what the Democrats were doing, but it was silly to think there were any secrets."

Maass said that this particular lesson will be "well-learned." "No President in the future will staff his office in the same way," he predicted. "Just look what Nixon has done in the past two days--he's gone back to Agnew and given him completely new responsibilities. Whatever you may think of Agnew, he is a pro. He would never get involved in something like Watergate."

Maass said that with the resignations of Ehrlichman and Haldeman, "the worst is over," and that the next few weeks will bring a reduction in the antagonisms over the Watergate issue.

David Riesman, Ford Professor of Social Sciences, said yesterday that while he has not followed recent disclosures closely, he thinks that Watergate may have released many tensions which are not directly related to it.

"Political corruption is not new, yet so many people who are neither members of the liberal left nor conservative Republicans are all stirred up," Riesman observed. "How many of these people are really upset by high meat prices, but are striking out now because there is a higher morality, a legitimacy, to attacking Watergate?"

Paul H. Weaver, assistant professor of Government and a supporter of Nixon last November, yesterday called Watergate a "damned outrage" and said that the scandal "has the potential of leading to the end of Nixon's presidency."

"This seems to be the most serious scandal in our government," Weaver said. "I am disappointed to see this turn out to be true." Weaver said he is "prepared to believe that Nixon is not guilty," but added, "we may never know if, or how much, he was involved."

H. Douglas Price, professor of Government and a specialist on voting behavior, said yesterday that although Watergate has undercut the potential arising from Nixon's landslide victory last November, it will not be a major issue in the 1976 presidential campaigns.

"The three-line screamer headlines in The New York Times are about over," Price said. "I can't think of anything they can do for an encore."

Price added that although Watergate has hurt the political careers of those involved, he noted that such possible candidates for the Republican nomination in 1976 as John Connally and Spiro Agnew have remained untouched by it