A Very Different Country

John Dean

     ... attorney, author and key "Watergate" witness.  Mr. Dean's Broken Government: How Republican Rule Destroyed the Legislative, Executive, and Judicial Branches, Worse Than Watergate: The Secret Presidency of George W. Bush, and Conservatives Without Conscience, form a trilogy based on 40 years inside his "former tribe", the Republican Party. Once White House legal counsel to President Richard Nixon, Mr. Dean’s Blind Ambition, published in 1976, was followed by a number of other books. He had also served as chief minority counsel for the House Judiciary Committee and an associate deputy attorney general in the U.S. Department of Justice. Following a successful career as a corporate attorney, he is now a columnist for and with his wife, Maureen, lives in California.

Republicans have broken America’s government by gaming the system, says John Dean of “Watergate” fame, and author of Broken Government: How Republican Rule Destroyed the Legislative, Executive, and Judicial Branches. He says his hopes for a reversal rest with the American people -- we hate being suckered.

“People know when they’re getting screwed. When there’s a breakdown in fairness, people get it.”

Don’t sit back and wait for the Supreme Court to fix things, Mr. Dean warns. It is by far the most secretive of the branches of government, and the most dangerous.

“The most important chapter in Broken Government is where I lay out in some detail where a fundamentalist Supreme Court would go,” he says. “All the elements are there. (In addition to Scalia, Thomas, Roberts and Alito) they just need one more vote -- five to control the Court -- and then we have a very, very different country. What will you have these people saying? Things like the Bill of Rights don’t apply to the States. That means that a state like Utah might decide to have the Mormon religion as their state religion.  It would mean the removal of the protection against self-incrimination at the state level. Women have no rights at all in fundamentalist thinking.”

He’s deeply concerned that authoritarian Republican leaders and followers are intent on a radical transformation of the United States.

“What’s interesting is Conservatives once were such sticklers for the rules,” says this former Goldwater Republican. “They prided themselves on their adherence to playing by the game’s proper procedures.  That’s not true anymore, from the way they run government to being intellectually dishonest and making arguments that are fallacious -- arguments for the nation going to war, for torture, for illegal wiretapping -- very radical rulings.”

While his testimony before Congress was instrumental in ousting Richard Nixon, Mr. Dean says has no ax to grind about Republicans in particular nor is he trying to make Watergate look good. “I’ve never been known as a Watergate apologist.”

Before he wrote Broken Government, he revealed the strong authoritarian streak among leaders and followers of America’s extreme political and religious right wing in Conservatives Without Conscience. The second book in his unintended trilogy, he called Worse than Watergate.

“It was actually a misnomer. It should have been Much Worse Than Watergate. Nobody was tortured during Watergate.  Nobody was killed under the so-called Watergate abuses. Millions of people weren’t subject to electronic surveillance under Watergate. It was just minor if you compare the two.”

And the good news?

“Give the public solid information -- the things they don’t know about -- and they’ll make the right decisions.”

[This Program was recorded September 17, 2007. in Atlanta, Georgia, US.]

Dead Government Society 1/5

Dead Government Society 2/5

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Dead Government Society 5/5

Related Links:

Worse Than Watergate:  The Secret Presidency of George W. Bush,Conservatives Without Conscience, and Broken Government: How Republican Rule Destroyed the Legislative, Executive, and Judicial Branches are all published by Viking.

Kevin Phillips shares many of Mr. Dean's concerns about America.  Those worries are expressed in American Dynastry: Aristocracy, Fortune, and the Politics of Deceit in the House of Bush and American Theocracy: The Peril and Politics of Radical Religion, Oil, and Borrowed Money in the 21st Century among several other books.

Another disaffected Republican,Thomas Frank has dug deeply in the records to show the long and weird history of the former nutty fringe of the Republican Party which has now come to dominate the party.


Garry Wills places American political origins firmly in the English Enlightenment. Religious fundamentalism makes its appearance in centennary waves.

Arianna Huffington is also a recovered Republican.

In Corpocracy:  How CEOs and the Business Roundtable Hijacked the World's Greatest Wealth Machine— and How to Get It Back, Robert A.G. Monks lucidly documents the damage to American democracy and to the American economy by out-of-control CEOs.

Thom Hartmann has also written about how big corporations have come to dominate American politics.

Robin Meyers and Jim Wallis have examined the role of fundamentalist religion in undermining American democracy.

The long-standing commitment of the Republican Party to big business and that commitment's impact on America is clearer in the historical context provided by historians David Nasaw (Andrew Carnegie), David Canadine (Mellon) and Ron Chernow (Ttitan) among many others.

And, here's a little background information on Paula Gordon and Bill Russell, the Program co-hosts.


Telling the truth and transparency in government are so fundamental to a democracy that they should simply be “given” and warrant no comment.

As Mr. Dean has made painfully clear, both have been virulently violated by what he calls the Bush/Cheney Administration.

Alas, once again, we must thank John Dean for standing up before the American people and the world, telling us what we need to hear. While our sadness rivals our outrage that this is demonstrably the case, we are deeply grateful to John Dean. Again.


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